Loss of VHF aerial with mast meant rescue was 'lucky'

Intended route of the yacht Lily
.. .
Having his VHF aerial attached to the mast and being without an emergency VHF aerial meant that a sailor was 'lucky' to be rescued last week in seas off the Isle of Man, when his emergency flare was fortuitously sighted by a passing tanker.

The cruising sailor found himself drifting on his vessel 30 miles south-west of the Island with a snapped mast and broken engine.

At the time the yacht, Lily, was en route from Milford Haven, West Wales, to the Island, where the owner lives in Douglas.

The mast of the yacht snapped in half and her engine failed to start.

As the VHF aerial was on top of the mast and was submerged, the solo sailor could not alert the emergency authorities, so he set off a flare which was seen by a passing tanker, which then raised the alarm.

Port St Mary lifeboat was launched at 10.35pm and found the yacht at midnight.

Coxswain Dave Richards said: 'We could see the tanker from miles and miles away, so once we figured out where we were aiming for it was easy.'

The mast of the yacht had probably suffered from metal fatigue, because it had snapped just above the cross trees.

He said of the yachtsman: 'He was lucky – if it had hit him it would have done him some serious damage. Fortunately, it was a lovely night. There was hardly any wind – this was a complete freak.'

He added that it was very fortunate that the flare had been spotted. 'When you fire flares you are relying on someone looking in the right direction,' he explained.

'They only last one and a half minutes.'

Following the rescue, the lifeboat towed the yacht to Port St Mary.
http://www.sail-worldcruising.com/75395