Liferaft capsizes

Two sailors have been airlifted in gale force winds off a 36ft yacht 75 miles south-west of the Isles Of Scilly. During the rescue the boat’s liferaft capsized with one sailor and one rescuer aboard.

Falmouth Coastguard received an EPIRB distress alert registered to a Swedish 36 foot yacht called Andriette.

The Coastguard contacted merchant vessels in the area and a message was relayed from another yacht which had encountered the Andriette on Wednesday and reported that she had suffered some damage but had continued on her passage from the Azores to Malmo in Sweden.

The Rescue Helicopter from RNAS Culdrose located the damaged yacht at 10.40pm on Thursday night which was without steering, lying stern to the wind in heavy seas. With winching over the deck impossible in the conditions, the two men on board had to abandon ship to their liferaft. The winchman retrieved one man from the liferaft but the liferaft capsized and on returning for the second man, both winchman and crewman were out of sight in the water beneath the upturned raft. Thankfully, when the liferaft righted itself the winchman had located the man in the water and both were winched back to the safety of the helicopter.

The two men are Dutch nationals aged 41 and 54. They were cold and wet after their ordeal but uninjured and have been transferred to Falmouth. 

Falmouth Coastguard Watch Manager Peter Bullard said,

“The conditions for the helicopter rescue crew were extremely challenging with gale force winds, rough seas and darkness. The three merchant vessels which responded to us helped with communications and were always an option for rescue. However, transfer either to helicopter or a vessel would always be difficult under these conditions.”