Solo Atlantic yachtsman rescued

A British yachtsman thousands of miles from home and seriously injured during a solo transatlantic voyage managed to summon help from his local pub. Alan Thompson, 61, an experienced sailor, broke his pelvis while sailing 600 miles northeast of Bermuda. He was in severe pain and hardly able to move but he managed to use his satellite phone to call the Bull’s Head in Fishbourne, West Sussex.

Roger Pocock, 62, the licensee and a friend of Mr Thompson, immediately alerted Falmouth coastguards, who located the yacht and organised a rescue operation by the US coastguard. Within hours two coastguards were airlifted aboard the 37ft yacht Padolu to help her owner to abandon the vessel and climb aboard an oil tanker that had responded to a Mayday alert.

The yachtsman, from Chichester, in West Sussex, had just bought the Hunter Legend yacht from a Florida dealer and set off to sail her back to Britain alone. He had crossed the Atlantic on two previous occasions, but with a crew and 20 years ago. The boat will either sink or the prevailing winds and current will take her back to America. If she hits the Gulf Stream she could even end up somewhere off the British Isles, Coastguards said.