A frightening experience for a single-hander on the East Coast

A freezing cold yachtsman was recovered from his own dinghy two hours after being left behind by his yacht while attempting to re-tie the painter.

The alarm was raised by a motorboater who spotted the unmanned 18ft yacht, Serendipity, off the Red Sands Towers, with her engine running but no-one aboard.

Caption: Whitsable RNLI alongside the unmanned 18ft yacht Serendipity

Initially the Coastguard thought they were looking for a man overboard. There was little initial information to suggest where the yacht had come from or what had occurred to leave the vessel unmanned.

Further investigation revealed that the yacht with one person aboard had set out from the Pyefleet Channel near Colchester at 6am that morning (Thursday 17 July) bound for the river Medway in Kent.

An RAF helicopter, a Coastguard aircraft, two lifeboats and four police launches were scrambled and began searching the area.

Less than an hour from the initial call the man was spotted floating in a dinghy by the rescue helicopter. He was found to be cold but otherwise uninjured and was later reunited with his yacht which was towed into Queensborough.

Watch Officer Steve Labouchardiere said:
‘The gentleman was attempting to re-secure the dinghy to his yacht when a line broke, leaving the man left behind in his dinghy and the yacht traveling away from him with all communications equipment on board.

‘The man was located quickly by the rescue helicopter. By then he had been adrift in his dinghy for two hours, but although extremely cold he was found to be otherwise safe and well.’

The RNLI issued the following statement: ‘The yachtsman was on passage to the Medway when his tender broke adrift. He attempted to recover the craft and had gone onboard it when it again broke away from his yacht leaving him stranded without any means of communication.’