The yacht was fully equipped with a working radio and flares - yet no call was made

Three

French yachtsmen took nearly four hours to report a man overboard tragedy.

Guernsey deputy harbourmaster Tony Pattimore said in his career of more than 30 years he had never come across a situation like it – where somebody with the

ability to raise the alarm at the time, didn’t.

The

missing man has been identified as 63-year-old Rene Yves Louis Morvan and his

family have been informed of his disappearance via the French authorities.

Mr

Morvan went overboard off Pleinmont on Saturday night at around 9pm and the

owner and two other crewmembers aboard the yacht Jouvente reported it three-and-three-quarter

hours later, after they had moored up at St Peter Port.

The

trio were arrested and bailed by Guernsey Police. The yacht has been impounded.

No

one has been charged and the three sailors have been allowed to return to

France while inquiries continue.

Following

an initial search by lifeboat crew, an extensive air and sea search was carried

out throughout Sunday morning, but Mr Morvan could not be found.

Mr

Pattimore, deputy harbourmaster, said: ‘The yacht was on voyage from Dartmouth

to Binic, its home port, when the weather turned nasty and they made the

decision to divert to Guernsey.

‘They

approached from a west-north-westerly direction and the course took them very

close to Les Hanois reef and the tide was running quite strong.

‘Their

cockpit became flooded and pushed this guy over the side – through the gap

between the top and middle wires on the safety rail.’

Mr

Morvan was wearing a lifejacket and oil skins when he went overboard.

The

yacht had spent a couple of days in Dartmouth after sailing from the north

Britanny coast via Guernsey and was on the return voyage when the tragedy

occurred.

Mr

Pattimore said the skipper and remaining crew on Jouvente turned the yacht around to

try and save Mr Morvan.

He

said: ‘They threw him a rope and missed. They turned around again and on the

second approach one of the waves caught them and turned the bow so that Mr

Morvan was carried under the boat.

‘They

said when he came up he was lying still in the water.

‘They

made a third attempt and realized they were quite close to the rocks and rather

than risk anyone else going in the water they made the decision to leave him.’

The

yacht sailed to St Peter Port and the crew used VHF radio to ask if there were

any free berths.

The

man overboard incident was only mentioned later to marina staff in what Mr

Pattimore described as a ‘very blasé manner.’

Mr

Pattimore said: ‘They had a working radio and flares on board.

‘Where

the man overboard occurred, four stations – in Guernsey, Jersey and north Brittany

– would have heard any call. But there was nothing.

‘I’ve

been in the post for over 30 years and this is the first time I’ve ever come

across a situation where somebody with the ability to raise the alarm at the

time, didn’t.

‘You

can understand that for the first 15 minutes they were trying to put the boat

around and trying to save him but once they realized they couldn’t, they

could’ve told us then.’

He

added: ‘By the time they gave us the position and we activated the lifeboat

crew it was over four hours since Mr Morvan had gone overboard.’

Mr Pattimore said the missing man and the yacht skipper had been friends for more than 40 years.

Pictures: St Peter Port

The French yacht Jouvente. Credit: Tony Rive.

The French yacht Jouvente being moved from number 5 berth to the Border Agency compound. Credit: Tony Rive