‘Optimistic voyager’ had no lights, no radio and a leaking boat, but told rescuers he was enroute to Scotland from Instow...

A man and his dog who set off from Instow for the Hebrides did not get very far after being rescued from their ‘leaky’ sail boat just south of Lundy last night (Thursday).

Swansea Coastguard was alerted to the plight of the optimistic mariner just before midnight when he called police on his mobile phone to say his 17 foot boat had broken down mid channel.

Coastguards had to use onshore telecommunications beacons to get a very rough fix on his position and the search and rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor spent two hours looking for him.

Finally just before 4am the sailor and his canine companion were winched to safety by the RAF Seaking crew and Appledore all weather lifeboat recovered his dubious craft.

Coastguards said the vessel was one of the least seaworthy they had encountered in a good while - its hull was leaking, the mast was missing, with an old windsurfing rig as a substitute, no lights, no VHF radio and the GPS wasn’t working.

The man, who carried no charts with him, told them he was en route to the Hebrides in Scotland, having set out from Instow.

“So many things were wrong with this gentleman’s boat and lack of preparation that the situation was almost comical,” said Bernie Kemble, watch officer for Swansea Coastguard.

“He had taken to sea in what was effectively a leaky fibreglass hull, without even the most basic communications and safety equipment.

“The situation could have been far more serious and he and his dog were lucky that they were rescued promptly. We would remind anyone in trouble at sea or on the coast to dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”