Email saves Cornish couple in South Atlantic

Yacht had to be scuttled
.. .
A Cornish couple have been rescued from their yacht in the South Atlantic after emailing Falmouth Coastguard. Mike, 51, and Iris Clelford, 52, asked for help after their yacht Brilliance sustained mast damage 500 miles from the island of Tristan da Cunha.

Mr and Mrs Clelford, who were sailing from South Georgia to Cape Town, were picked up by a cargo ship.

The couple, from Perranuthnoe near Penzance, said they were 'very lucky'.

Mr and Mrs Clelford were on the latest leg of a round-the-world voyage when their 30ft (9.1m) yacht was battered by storms.

Mr Clelford said the mast was in danger of falling overboard after a battering by 50-knot winds and so he activated an emergency beacon.

'We were not looking to be rescued, we did not expect to see anybody down that way,' said Mr Clelford from the bulk carrier, Pan Voyager. 'But we wanted our families and other people to know where we had the problem.

'As it happened, Falmouth Coastguard received the emergency beacon signal, and I was able to email them. 'I was completely and utterly amazed when they said a boat would be on the way to us,' he said.

When he saw the Pan Voyager Mr Clelford said he felt relief as well as sadness, because he knew he would have to scuttle Brilliance. Mr and Mrs Clelford are expected to arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 7 March, aboard Pan Voyager.

The couple started a round-the-world trip in 2002, returning to Falmouth every six months to work. Coincidentally, they run the Castle Beach Cafe, a short distance from the Falmouth coastguard station.

Falmouth watch manager James Instance said: 'We were amazed to receive a distress call from a couple adrift in the South Atlantic who are locals and own a cafe just a short walk from our coastguard station.

'We're glad to bring this incident to a successful conclusion.'