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UPDATE: Family pay tribute as body of missing sailor Jeff Cole found
2:00am Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
'HE WAS OUR ROCK'- the family of missing sailor Jeff Cole have paid tribute to a 'friendly, confident and reliable' man after his body was found off the coast of Devon.
Mr Cole disappeared while sailing from Weymouth to Swanage on September 21.
Sam Cole, Jeff's daughter, confirmed that her 'wonderful father' had been identified.
She paid tribute to her dad and said the news was a relief as it meant they could have closure and plan a wonderful celebration of his life.
She said: “We are relived- that's all we wanted.
“Out of something so awful, it is the best news.
“He was our rock- the rock of the family.”
She said that now they had him back, and after following the normal procedures, there would be a huge celebration of his life.
She said: “Then everyone that knew him can come along and celebrate.
“It will be a celebration of his life- it won't be a miserable thing.
“We will be doing something unusual.”
Mr Cole's wish was to be buried with his son, Lee Cole, a talented musician who passed away 10 years ago this August.
A massive fan of rock music, Mr Cole loved everything from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to the Prodigy.
He was a fan of DJ John Peel and used to listen to lots of new music.
Sam said her dad was a well known figure in the area and he could mend anything and everything from plumbing to electronics, fridges and dishwasher to cars.
Mr Cole loved sailing and was a very active member at Castle Cove Sailing Club in Weymouth - among other things he helped them to install some new moorings.
She said: “He had friends everywhere. He was a very loud character, very friendly and very confident- he could tackle anything.
“He was the rock of the family.”
Always ready with a funny story or anecdote, Sam said he used to make up daft rhymes and make everybody laugh.
She said: “Once you met him once you would never forget him- he was such a massive character.”
She added: “He was the most reliable and honest person you would ever meet.”
If he said he was doing something he never changed his mind or made excuses and was extremely reliable, Sam said.
Details of the celebration for the life of Mr Cole will be reported in the Echo shortly.
SEARCH AND RESCUE MISSION
A SEARCH and Rescue operation was launched after Mr Cole's boat was found washed up on a French Beach.
The 61-year-old left Castle Cove Sailing Club aboard his boat Palamina on Saturday September 21 at 7am, intending to sail to Swanage but never arrived.
The cruiser was found aground near Veulettes-sur-Mer, between Dieppe and Fecamp on the French coast, on the morning of Monday September 23.
There was no sign of Mr Cole and so the French authorities launched a search and rescue operation, which included: a French Navy plane, two helicopters, two all-weather lifeboats from Dieppe and Fecamp, two craft from Veulette-sur-Mer and two other boats belonging to the fire brigade.
The French naval vessel did a search along the probable route the Palamina would have taken from the UK, but without success.
OPERATION TO RECOVER MR COLE'S BODY
Mr Cole's body was spotted in the water at Sandy Cove, east of Ladram Bay near Sidmouth.
Emergency services launched a difficult and lengthy operation to recover the body.
Officers were initially called at just after 2pm on Thursday and coastguard teams from Exmouth and Beer were also among the first to attend.
It was quickly determined that the man was dead and an operation to recover his body was launched.
The Devon Air Ambulance landed nearby but was unable to recover the body.
And a four-man Sidmouth Lifeboat crew made attempts to reach him but despite their efforts trying to back the boat into shore, due to the high tide and severity of the waves, the team were forced back.
Portland Helicopter was then requested as coastguards had hoped they would be able to recover the body, either from the cliff top, or via a helicopter winch.
But due to the weather conditions and the height of the tide, this too proved impossible.
Due to the high-risk involved, a four-man coastguard team and police officer remained watching over the man's body to make sure he did not drift out to sea.
A team of around 18 coastguards then re-grouped at low tide around midnight to make the recovery and stretcher the man to shore.
Terry Hoare of Beer Coastguard, said: “Initially we thought the lifeboat could get in far enough ashore to recover the body but the sea conditions and rocks meant they couldn't.
“We then looked at a cliff recovery, but because of the state of the high tide and that we would be sending guys down from 60m above to it was hard to pinpoint his exact location, they would have had to have waded quite some way in waist deep water.
“It was too risky, knowing he was dead already. Had this been a live casualty this would have been completely different.
“The only other option was to wait until low tide which wasn't until about midnight.
“Four of our crew stayed on the scene to make sure his body did not drift out to sea.
“Luckily this did not happen and we re-grouped again knowing it would be difficult to carry-off.
“Three of our crew had to retrieve the body which was a tricky and long operation due to the weather and tidal conditions.”
Mr Hoare said that the coastguard volunteers are trained to deal with difficult and sometimes traumatic incidences like this and peer-support is key among the team.
“We always treat recoveries like this with respect,” he added. “But you have to distance yourself a bit.
“Everyone who becomes a volunteer knows that they will deal with dead bodies, there is no doubt about that.
“Counselling is available for anyone that requests it, and it's my job to keep an eye on everyone and make sure they're okay.”
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