Rescue of lone sailor 70 miles out at sea to feature in final episode of BBC’s Saving Lives at Sea

A nail-biting RNLI and Irish Coast Guard rescue of a sailor forced to cling to his stranded vessel for six hours, 70 miles out at sea will feature in the final episode of Saving Lives at Sea on BBC Two.

In July, the Baltimore Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteer crew launched to a lone, professional sailor who had capsized his catamaran in challenging sea conditions during a Drheam-Cup 700 race off the coast of West Cork.

With the casualty clinging to the upturned hull of his 50ft catamaran, Baltimore RNLI travelled for three hours to reach him, in sea swells up to four metres and force 7 winds. The Irish Coast Guard helicopterRescue 117 was also in attendance.

In the episode, Baltimore crew member Brian McSweeney said: ‘His life was in danger, you could see that he had some injuries, we could just tell by the way he was standing.’

With time against them, the lifeboat crew launched the small inflatable Y boat from their all-weather lifeboat so they could get close to the catamaran and retrieve the yachtsman.

Despite the wild seas, the crew managed to pull the sailor onboard after he scrambled across the netting of his catamaran and rushed him back to Baltimore’s Tamar class lifeboat.

But the rescue wasn’t over yet as the Coast Guard team had to winch the sailor into the helicopter as he needed urgent medical attention.

After some incredible teamwork, seamanship and dedication, the sailor is finally winched to safety, after over six hours clinging to his catamaran at sea.

With Rescue 117 transporting the sailor to hospital, the Baltimore crew headed back to the station after eight hours at sea.

In the episode, the sailor talks about the incident: ‘You cling to the thought of your wife and children, you think of them. That gives you the energy and the will to keep going.’

Thankfully, the sailor sustained no serious injuries and is hoping to take part in future sailing races.

Aidan Bushe, Baltimore RNLI Coxswain: ‘That’s what we sign up for, this, that’s the days we go, can go out and bring someone home safely, there are lots of sad days when that doesn’t happens and this makes up for some of those.’

Showing exclusive footage from the RNLI lifeboat, the episode showcases the dedication, bravery and lifesaving teamwork of RNLI volunteer crews and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew.

The action-packed ‘Battling the Conditions’ episode will also see the Helensburgh volunteers save a stranded kayaker, while Newhaven face the challenge of a yacht aground and the Moelfre crew rescue an injured fisherman.

The final episode of Saving Lives at Sea will air on Thursday 10 November on BBC Two at 7pm. Catch up on the series on BBC iPlayer.

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