Man Rescued Trying To Sail From Christchurch To US In Dinghy

18 August 2014, 07:52 | Updated: 18 August 2014, 08:08

A sailor's been rescued five miles off the coast of Dorset after attempting to sail to America in a 14ft dinghy.

The 30-year-old Bulgarian national purchased the £300 boat from Christchurch harbour on Saturday (16 August) before setting off on his voyage.

The man was not wearing a lifejacket, his boat did not have any lights and the only navigational aid in his possession was a street map of Southampton.

He was spotted looking seasick in choppy seas at around 5pm by a passing yachtsman, who called the coastguard.

An RNLI lifeboat crew from Mudeford attempted to help the man, who had a US visa on board, but he refused their assistance for 45 minutes.

He was eventually dragged onto the RNLI lifeboat and taken to shore, where police and an ambulance crew were waiting.

Pete Dadds, 41, a lifeboat crewman who attended the incident, said the man would have died if he had not been rescued.

``When we reached the gentleman he didn't want us there, he wanted to carry on his way,'' the commercial fisherman said.

``We were not happy leaving him out there. He kept saying 'I am going west'.

``His boat was not properly rigged so he was just getting battered, he was at the mercy of the elements.

``We said 'if we leave you you will die'. He didn't have a life-jacket, just a buoyancy aid and the vessel didn't have any lights.

``All he had on was a bag of personal belongings which were a few odds and ends, a bag of biscuits, beans and hot dogs and a bag with his passport in.

``He was obviously suffering from the first signs of hypothermia. He was only wearing a pack-a-mac jacket and leggings.

``He was absolutely sodden.''

The man boarded the RNLI lifeboat, where he was violently sea sick and ``very, very cold'', Mr Dadds added.

``I ended up cuddling him at the back of the boat to keep him warm,'' he said.

``He would have died, he was severely sea sick, he had the first signs of hypothermia and his boat was filling up with water.

``There's no chance it would have kept going for much longer.''

Mr Dadds said the sailor was ``incredibly lucky'' the yacht had been passing him and had contacted the coastguard.

The RNLI crew arrived back at Mudeford at around 6.30pm and the man was immediately taken to hospital by the waiting ambulance.

His boat was then towed back to shore by the crew.