Mid-Atlantic rescue; yacht scuttled

A British yachtsman and his Hungarian girlfriend have told of a six-day ordeal which culminated in them scuttling their yacht. They claimed they had to flee the Canary Islands following a row with ‘heavy-handed’ Spanish officials.

Alexander Hopkins and his partner Kinga Szabo, were rescued in mid-Atlantic by a British cruise ship in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They had been at sea for six days, three of them adrift in a gale with a damaged tiller and sails, after taxmen on the island of La Palma threatened to impound their 34ft yacht, the 30-year-old Taurus of Wyre.

The officials wrongly claimed that Alexander was a Spanish resident and liable for taxes in the port of Tazacorte. Fearing he would lose the yacht that had been home to him and school-teacher Kinga for four years, he set sail for the Azores.

Kinga told the Daily Express: ‘We did not want to leave and normally we would have taken weeks to prepare for such a trip but the officials would have sealed the boat and we would have had nowhere to live.’

Just before 7am on Wednesday their distress signal was answered by the British cruise ship Thomson Destiny, bound for the Caribbean.

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