Man attempts to sail from Dorset to Ireland in blow-up beach dinghy

HM Coastguard

HM Coastguard - Credit: Archant

Sunburnt ‘sailor’ used paddles as mast and rudder.

A man has been safely brought back to shore after attempting to sail from Dorset to Ireland in a 6ft inflatable dinghy.

Portland Coastguard received a call just after 3pm yesterday (Wednesday) from a range safety craft reporting concern for a man in an inflatable dinghy approximately 2.7 nautical miles south of Durdle Door.

The man was heading for Ireland in a 6ft beach blow-up dinghy.

With him were two paddles, one used as a mast accompanied by a plastic sheet as a sail, and the other used as a rudder to steer. Aboard was a limited amount of food and drink.


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Portland Coastguard put out a broadcast requesting further information about the dinghy. A dive vessel, transiting the area at the time, responded with a sighting, provided a position and approached the dinghy to assess the situation.

Portland Coastguard was informed that the occupant of the dinghy did not require any assistance. After finishing their diving operations, the dive vessel returned to the scene and was able to recover the man and take him into Lulworth Cove.

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He was met there at 8.30pm by the Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team, police and ambulance, and received treatment for a high degree of sunburn. It later transpired that the man left Osmington Mills at 9am that morning.

John Braisher, watch officer at Portland Coastguard said: “This man was extremely lucky to be found when he was. With no suitable communications equipment, limited life saving equipment and inadequate food and drink resources for his passage to Ireland, the outcome could have been very different.

“If you’re planning to head out to sea, the key is to be well prepared. Inflatable dinghies, such as this, are unsuitable and not recommended for coastal passages of this nature.

“It’s also vital to have appropriate VHF/DSC communications, life saving equipment and the resources to sustain a venture such as this person intended.

“HM Coastguard is always willing to discuss and provide advice on passage plans you may have.”

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