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Sailor texts girlfriend for help after yacht sinks in Bristol Channel

by KenMcCormick on 22 Sep 2014
The lifeboat returns to Weston with the rescued sailor aboard. Weston RNLI
This might be the Texting and Facebook generation but boaters need to user VHF radio says volunteer rescuers from Weston-super-Mare's lifeboat station rescued a yachtsman whose boat sank in the middle of the Bristol Channel, UK.

The man managed to get ashore on uninhabited Steep Holm Island, then sent his girlfriend a text message asking her to get help, the RNLI said today.

The two-and-a-half-hour drama unfolded yesterday 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, about five miles offshore from Weston, and he had managed to scramble ashore but needed help.

An RNLI spokesman said the charity launched its lifeboat Anna Stock, 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 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 look 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 rescued from his sinking yacht and he was told to walk back down to the shore.

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

The RNLI spokesman said the yacht had sunk because it had been swamped by the channel's fast-rising tide near the beach.

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.'

For more information about Weston RNLI, visit the charity's website.
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