A solo sailor who set off his personal locator beacon (PLB) when he realised that he was becoming ill on board his yacht was located and airlifted by Coastguard helicopter to hospital yesterday afternoon.

The UK Coastguard received an alert from the PLB at 2.40pm. Because the man had registered his beacon with the UK Coastguard, his next of kin details were readily available. The Coastguard contacted the sailor’s wife who confirmed that he was out sailing between Portland and Portsmouth.

The Coastguard scrambled a Coastguard helicopter and requested the Weymouth RNLI Lifeboat to launch. The helicopter homed in on the signal from the beacon, and once the casualty and his vessel were located, a helicopter winchman was able to assess the man. He was then airlifted to Dorchester Hospital.

Aimee Phillimore for the UK Coastguard said: ‘This is a great example of how a personal locator beacon, when properly used and registered, can save a person’s life. This solo sailor ensured that, should he get into difficulty whilst out at sea, he had the right equipment to give him the best chance of being located and rescued.

‘If you fall overboard, your boat is suddenly lost or you are taken ill whilst solo sailing, you’ll need to raise an alarm and ensure that you can be located. A device such as a personal locator beacon (PLB) or a man overboard (MOB) device will assist in your rescue.

‘Make sure that, if you decide upon a PLB, it is registered with the UK Coastguard: https://www.gov.uk/maritime-safety-weather-and-navigation/register-406-mhz-beacons

‘You will need to choose a device that is best for your type of water activity – consider whether you mainly sail close to shore or offshore and whether you are usually with other experienced crew. Your local chandler can advise you.’