Lifeboat rescues single-hander

A single-handed sailor has been rescued after he was trapped in his cabin as his 22ft yacht, The Tern, was pinned against Whitehaven pier.

Derek Johnson, 53, contacted harbour authorities at 0300 today, seeking permission to enter the port as weather conditions had deteriorated. At the time the wind was around 25 knots.

Because the authorities were concerned about the condition of the vessel, they contacted Liverpool Coastguard.

But at 0540 Mr Johnson (pictured above) had still not entered the harbour and contacted the authorities again to report that he was taking on water.

By this time the wind was gusting 42 knots and had veered to the north-west, pinning The Tern against the pier in the outer harbour.

Mr Johnson said that at one point he was ‘chest deep in freezing water’.

An RNLI all-weather lifeboat was launched at 0630 to rescue the skipper from the flooded yacht.

One rescuer was injured by the yacht’s flailing mast and required hospital treatment, as did Mr Johnson for hypothermia.

Paul Campbell, watch manager at Liverpool Coastguard, said: ‘This was quite an awkward job in very difficult and deteriorating weather conditions.

‘Fortunately the skipper is now safely in hospital and our own coastguard rescue officer was given a check by the A&E department and discharged.’

Mr Johnson, from Whitehaven, said: ‘It’s just one of those things that happens from time to time.

‘I will never be able to replace what I’ve lost.

‘I was hoping to sail to Ibiza in the summer, but I won’t be able to do that now.’

He thanked the rescuers for their efforts.

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