A WEYMOUTH dive boat skipper told of his shock after rescuing a man who was trying to sail from Dorset to Ireland in a blow-up boat.
The sunburnt sailor, who was plucked from the water three nautical miles south of Durdle Door, said he was trying to sail to Ireland.
The American man, in his fifties and from the Chicago area, spent 12 hours at sea on Wednesday after setting sail from Osmington Mills at 9am earlier that day.
He was wearing a wetsuit and life jacket and had made a makeshift sail for the 6ft dinghy out of a groundsheet and paddle.
He used the other paddle as a rudder to steer.
Nigel Holder, 51, skipper of the Weymouth-based X-Dream, said the man – who was out of water and had limited food – was very lucky.
He added: “If you look at what could have happened to him, he was very lucky. I’ve been working on dive boats for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Portland Coastguard received a call from concerned seafarers at 5pm on Wednesday and officers put out a broadcast requesting further information about the dinghy.
When the X-Dream vessel approached the man and gave him water and offered him a lift, he told the crew he didn’t require any assistance.
Once the diving session had ended, Mr Holder steered the vessel back to the man, who was persuaded to accept a lift to shore.
Mr Holder, of Weymouth, said: “He had terrible sunburn and both of his legs looked as though they’d had a kettle poured on them.
“We got to Lulworth Cove at about 9.30pm and the paramedics and coastguards were waiting for him. He seemed quite lucid and very calm.
“If he had gone another day without water, I don’t know what would have happened.”
Once on dry land, the man was treated for severe sunburn. He told paramedics, police and coastguards he was trying to sail to Ireland.
*Do you know who the rescued man is? Contact the Echo newsdesk on 01305 830999.
'VERY LUCKY TO BE FOUND'
JOHN Braisher, watch officer at Portland Coastguard, said inflatable dinghies are not recommended to sail to Ireland in.
He said: “This man was extremely lucky to be found when he was.
“With no suitable communications equipment, limited life saving equipment
and inadequate food and drink resources for his passage to Ireland, the
outcome could have been very different. If you’re planning to head out to sea, the key is to be well prepared.
“Inflatable dinghies, such as this, are unsuitable and not recommended for coastal passages of this nature.
"It’s also vital to have appropriate VHF/DSC communications, life saving
equipment and the resources to sustain a venture such as this person intended.”