An intrepid sunburnt American tourist once attempted to sail to Ireland from Dorset in a blow-up boat.

Back in July 2013, a Weymouth dive boat had to go to the rescue of a man who later became known in the national press as 'Captain Calamity'

The man, in his 50s, had set sail from Osmington Mills near Weymouth with a plan to get to Ireland. 

The man, who was from the Chicago area, 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.

Dorset Echo: The sailor's dinghy

The man was plucked from the water three nautical miles south of Durdle Door, and said he was trying to sail to Ireland.

He had spent 12 hours at sea after setting sail from Osmington Mills at 9am earlier that day.

Nigel Holder, 51, skipper of the Weymouth-based diving boat Extreme which rescued the man, said the intrepid sailor - who was out of drinking water and had limited food – was very lucky.

Dorset Echo:

Nigel Holder

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 Extreme 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 Extreme’s diving session had ended, Mr Holder steered the vessel back to the man, who was persuaded to accept a lift to shore.

Dorset Echo:

The Old Harbour Dive Centre in Weymouth, which runs the dive vessel The Extreme

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.