New Year's eve drama

Two sailors were rescued by a Belgian Air Force helicopter after their brand new yacht ran aground and later sank in rough seas off the north Kent coast on New Year’s Eve.

The two men set sail from Ramsgate in their 40ft yacht bound for St. Katherine’s Dock in London during the early hours of 31 December but soon after 5am ran aground on the Hook Sands around two miles off Reculver between Margate and Herne Bay.

They soon found their deep keeled vessel listing by 45 degrees and taking on water in rough seas and north-easterly wind. Margate RNLI together with a Sea King rescue helicopter from the Belgium Air Force base at Koksijde were called to the scene after the skipper’s DSC Mayday call.

Once the lifeboat arrived on scene a tow line was passed to the yacht which was soon refloated from the sandbank on the rising tide. It soon became clear however that the yacht had suffered serious structural damage as the level of water in the vessel increased and it quickly capsized and started to sink.

The lifeboat called for the assistance of the Belgian helicopter which was now on scene and they plucked the two crew men from their now rapidly sinking vessel. The helicopter transferred the two crew to the QEQM hospital at Margate where, after being checked over were discharged. The stricken yacht later washed ashore at Herne Bay.

Kevin Andrews, Margate lifeboat second coxswain says; “The inclement weather conditions at the scene obviously contributed to the structural damage that led to the sudden loss of the vessel. They probably owe their lives to raising the alarm at an early stage and it could have been a different story if their plight had remained unknown as the situation deteriorated rapidly and dramatically. It is always sad when a vessel is lost but the most important thing is that the two men are safe and well”