At night this week Two Dutch sailors were rescued this week in rough conditions and at great risk to the rescuer when their yacht was damaged in gale force winds. They were approximately 75 miles west of the Isles of Scilly, off Land's End, the south western tip of England, when the life threatening drama occurred.
Royal Navy rescue occurred around 75nm west of the Isles of Scilly
The crew set of their EPIRB, and because of the correct registration of the EPIRB Falmouth Coastguard, who received the distress signal were able to establish that the yacht was registered to a Swedish 36ft yacht called Andriette.
Falmouth Coastguard immediatly contacted merchant vessels in the area and a message was relayed from another yacht which had encountered the Andriette on Wednesday and reported that she had suffered some damage but had continued on her passage from the Azores to Malmo in Sweden.
The Rescue Helicopter from Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) Culdrose located the damaged yacht at 10.40pm which was without steering, lying stern to the wind in heavy seas. With winching over the deck impossible in the conditions, the two men on board were instructed to abandon their yacht, get into their liferaft and move away from the yacht to give a clear passage for the winchman.
A spokesman for RNAS Culdrose said: 'Sergeant Russell recovered the first yachtsman to the safety of the helicopter and returned to find and rescue the second man, who was now nowhere to be seen.
Royal Navy rescue helicopter in risky rescue
'After searching the area around the liferaft Sergeant Russell then dived under it to check if the second yachtsman was trapped there.
'He duly located him but then had to deal with the yachtsman desperately clinging to him while he released himself and his survivor from the various ropes and lines now tangled around them.
'This done, Sergeant Russell and the second yachtsman were safely lifted to the helicopter.'
Speaking afterwards, Sgt Russell, said: 'The job was up there as a 'Grade A'. It's a strange thing to say, but I actually enjoyed the experience although there were times when I thought my time was up.'
Thankfully, when the liferaft righted itself the winchman had located the man in the water and both were winched back to the safety of the helicopter.
The two men are Dutch nationals aged 41 and 54. They were cold and wet after their ordeal but uninjured and have been transferred to Falmouth.
Falmouth Coastguard Watch Manager Peter Bullard said, 'The conditions for the helicopter rescue crew were extremely challenging with gale force winds, rough seas and darkness. The three merchant vessels which responded to us helped with communications and were always an option for rescue. However, transfer either to helicopter or a vessel would always be difficult under these conditions.
The story elucidates the value of making sure that your EPIRB is registered and in working order, and a set which includes DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is strongly recommended, enabling you to send a message containing your position and identity at one touch of the button.