An air and sea search got underway after a VHF radio Mayday call was heard

A sailor was rescued from a battered and dismasted trimaran found 18 miles south of Portland this morning.
An extensive air and sea
search involving Yarmouth, Bembridge and
Salcombe RNLI Lifeboats along with two Coastguard rescue helicopters,
a warship and merchant vessels got underway last night.

began at 4.50pm yesterday after a merchant vessel reported to the Coastguard that it had heard a
VHF radio Mayday broadcast from a tri-maran stating that it was in danger of capsize in mid Channel.

The trimaran’s position was reported
to be 37 miles south of the Needles, Isle Of Wight.

Coastguard rescue helicopters from Solent and Portland were scrambled and all-weather RNLI lifeboats from Bembridge and Yarmouth were launched. The British naval vessel HMS St Albans assisted with the search and broadcasts for all vessels in the area were made.

Just before 4am this morning, the Coastguard was
contacted by the HMS St Albans,
reporting they were standing by a dismasted trimaran with one person
visible on top of the damaged vessel.

The RNLI all-weather lifeboat
from Weymouth attended and recovered a man from the damaged
vessel. It is reported that there was only one person on board.

Testing weather conditions

The search effort covered
an area south of the Isle of Wight where the swell was between 2 and 2.5m with
winds up to 25 knots.

A Weymouth Lifeboat spokesman said the tri-maran had lost its outriggers and mast 18 miles south of Portland Bill. HMS St Albans located the vessel whilst returning to her exercise area.

The spokesman said: ‘HMS St. Alban illuminated the area with her search lights, but due to the weather conditions was unable to launch her sea boat.

‘Once on scene Weymouth ALB got close to the casualty to assess the situation.

‘The vessel had lost both out riggers and mast, was laying stern to the seas with a 15-degree list to port.

‘The skipper and sole occupant was asked if he was able and willing to be taken off the vessel, to which he agreed.

‘The ALB came alongside the casualty, transferring the skipper to the lifeboat, and returning with him to Weymouth Harbour.’

Suffering from hypothermia

The skipper was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia but not in a critical condition.

Commander Catherine Jordan, commanding officer of HMS St Albans,
said: ‘We initially responded to reports of a capsized trimaran with an
unknown number of people on-board.


‘Weather conditions were initially very difficult but this gradually
improved as the night went on and eventually the moon broke the cloud
cover which provided us with good illumination.


‘Following a search of over 250 square nautical miles at 0315 an
unlit yacht with no mast and significant damage was spotted by the
Bridge team some 30 miles from the original Mayday position.


‘The weather at this point deteriorated again and due to the
difficult sea state and fragile condition of the yacht we were only able
to close the distance, provide a windbreak, and offer reassurance until
the lifeboat arrived.


‘This was a co-ordinated rescue in trying conditions and I would like to thank all of those agencies that were involved.


‘I am also pleased to hear that the rescued man was not seriously injured.’


Following the rescue HMS St Albans continued her patrol to Plymouth.



The sailor clinging to his trimaran; the trimaran rescue. Credit: Royal Navy

The Weymouth RNLI all-weather lifeboat. Credit: Weymouth Lifeboat Facebook page

HMS St Albans. Credit: Crown Copyright