AN AMATEUR sailor was saved from certain death in rough seas off the Dorset coast as he attempted to sail to America.

It came during a busy day for Portland Coastguard which was alerted to a number of stricken boats in trouble in difficult conditions.

Rescuers were alerted to the predicament of the ill-prepared sailor trying to get to America when the crew of a yacht noticed him in trouble in the sea off Christchurch on Saturday afternoon.

It turned out the man, a 30-year-old Bulgarian, had just bought a 14ft sailing dinghy for his journey and also had an American visa but he ran into problems at sea almost immediately.

An RNLI spokesman said: “The man was suffering from the extreme cold, was wet and was being violently ill. The strong winds and 20 knot seas were lapping onto the dinghy and consequently it was taking on water.

“The man was adamant that he did not need any assistance and wanted to carry on his passage to America.

“The dinghy, which had been purchased that afternoon, had no safety equipment and the crew on Mudeford lifeboat eventually convinced the man that he needed to get onto the lifeboat and be taken back into shore to receive medical attention.”

Lifeboat crewman Pete Dadds said that if the lifeboat had not been contacted by a passing yacht, the man would certainly have died.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Weymouth Lifeboat was launched to help the yacht Degage which had no power, had blown out the main sail and was struggling to make headway in rough seas off Kimmeridge. One of two on board was said to be ‘extremely seasick’.

Weymouth Lifeboat spokesman Ken Francis said: “The lifeboat launched at 6.25pm and was on the scene just after 7pm. A line was passed and she was taken under tow to Weymouth, arriving at 9pm where the coastguard team was waiting to offer advice.”

Swanage Coastguard officers were also called to investigate reports of a canoe containing two people from a beach party who were out in dangerous conditions.

The call was made just after 9pm and coastguards found two men from the party had been fishing in the canoe. Both men had returned to the beach.

Earlier in the day, Poole Lifeboat was called out to four separate incidents involving capsized vessels and people in the water.

It included a capsized catamaran off Sandbanks Beach where two people were rescued, a capsized sailing dinghy in Poole Harbour where one person was plucked to safety, another dinghy overturned and a capsized jetski with four in the sea at Poole Harbour and two people rescued following a capsized Hobie Cat in Poole Harbour.