South Scotland

Sailor drifted for more than a day near Mull of Galloway on new yacht

Mull of Galloway Image copyright Billy McCrorie
Image caption The yacht was last reported to have been near the Mull of Galloway

An "inexperienced" sailor who tried to guide his recently-bought yacht from Whitehaven to Galway was rescued after drifting at sea for more than 24 hours.

A search was launched after his family contacted the coastguard to report the boat missing at about 22:45 on Tuesday.

It was last reported to have been near Mull of Galloway lighthouse at about 11:45 the same day.

A search was launched and the yacht was located at about 22:30 on Wednesday and the man on board was safe and well.

Portpatrick, Drummore, Newcastle, Ballycastle, Bangor and Coleraine coastguard rescue teams were part of the operation along with the RNLI Portaferry inshore lifeboat from Northern Ireland, as well as the HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick.

The helicopter eventually located the boat near South Rock, about 17 miles off the Mull of Galloway.

Image copyright Rnli
Image caption The RNLI Portaferry lifeboat went out to help the yacht

The RNLI Portaferry lifeboat went to help the yacht, which had suffered engine problems, and towed it into Portavogie in County Down.

Coastguard senior maritime officer Connor Lawson said the journey had been progressing well as far as the coast near Dumfries and Galloway.

"He purchased the boat not that long ago in Whitehaven in England and intended to sail it all the way to Galway via the north coast of Northern Ireland," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"Initial passage was successful and he confirmed a safe arrival at a port called Port William in Scotland.

"Later on that day he had also communicated with his family that he was still making progress around the Mull of Galloway - at that time everything was OK on board.

"That was the last contact that was made with the family who then raised their concerns with us later that day."

'Suitable equipment'

Mr Lawson said they had then started to search for the yacht which had lost engine power and it was finally found late on Wednesday night.

"He was inexperienced and wasn't very familiar with how to sail," he said.

"Had the weather been worse and stronger wind conditions it could have been a different outcome but thankfully the weather and the visibility especially have been excellent so he was safe and well."

Mr Lawson said the man had been given advice about the need to carry "suitable communications equipment" and not to rely on mobile phone technology as signals could be lost.

He added that the owner now planned to take his yacht south to Dublin and then by road to Galway.