Australian sneaks pets onto helicopter

An Australian sailor has defied the helicopter pilot who was rescuing him by managing to sneak his seven Jack Russells onto the chopper.

Thane Mortensen’s catamaran was dismasted in heavy seas off Western Australia, but the rescue pilot told him that his dogs were not allowed on board and had to be left behind.

Mr Mortensen, 45, said: ‘Seeing the chopper come in was a very comforting feeling.

‘Then the pilot remarked that the dogs were not permitted on the chopper. I was horrified.

‘I didn’t question him, but I just grabbed a double-bed quilt slip (duvet cover) and I put them all in it like a big Santa sack.’

After stepping into the liferaft, Mr Mortensen was winched into the helicopter with one hand on the safety cable and one hand clinging to his sack of dogs.

He said: ‘I just had these dogs, trying to rest on my knees, because if the bottom of that bag had torn open I would have seen all my dogs drop to a horrible death that I could never live with.

‘If I happened to lose my life, so be it, but I hate to have the thought of leaving my animals behind to suffer.’

Mr Mortensen, from South Australia, battled strong winds for two days, before losing the mast on his 26ft catamaran off Cape Londonderry, forcing him to issue a Mayday.

He said: ‘I was stuck in like a whirlpool with the breeze on my nose and the swell just coming at me, just huge white caps and it was pitching me up and down and around.’

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