Published:
September 20, 2014
Sailor rescued from Steep Holm Island after his yacht sinks

Lifeboat crews have rescued a yachtsman whose boat sank in the middle of the Bristol Channel.

The man managed to scramble ashore onto uninhabited Steep Holm Island, then send his girlfriend a text message asking her to get help.

His two-and-a-half-hour drama unfolded on Thursday afternoon (September 18th) shortly before 3pm, when the Coastguard received a call alerting them to the emergency.

The man's friend said his yacht had sunk near Steep Holm, several miles offshore from Brean Down, and he had managed to scramble ashore but needed help.

The RNLI launched a lifeboat from Weston, which headed towards the island. As the crew drew near they spotted the mast of a yacht sticking out of the water but could see no sign of the occupant.

They then found a discarded life jacket nearby during a search of the shoreline but could not find the missing sailor.

Just as they were about to call in an RAF helicopter to help search for him Swansea Coastguard managed to contact the yachtsman, who had climbed up to higher ground and was at an old barracks building.

The Coastguard helped him to make direct contact with the lifeboat using a radio he had retrieved from his sinking yacht and he was told to walk back down to the shore.

The lifeboat crew picked him up and took him back to Knightstone Harbour. He was checked over by the crew and found to be wet but otherwise uninjured.

The yacht had sunk after being swamped by the channel's fast-rising tide near the beach.

RNLI helmsman Simon Cresser said: "This man was lucky he was near the island when his craft sank. He was found because of a text message but this is not a secure way of calling for help. He should have had a VHF radio he knew how to use and flares for calling for help."

"We always suggest all sailors are properly equipped. If any have any doubts about their seaworthiness the RNLI does offer free boat checks. Just ask at the lifeboat station."

Pictured: The man being returned to the safety of the shore by the lifeboat crew

 


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