Brit sailor spends four days on liferaft before being rescued

November 23rd, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by ANI  

London, November 23 (ANI): A British sailor spent four days in a liferaft off the coast of Spain before being rescued by coastguards.

Jay Patel was rescued after his wife alerted coastguards in England.

He and his Belgian colleague Philippe took to the inflatable liferaft after their 44ft (13.4m) motorboat, Umbalika, was sunk by a wave 20ft high.

Both of them survived on bottled water and dried biscuits until Patels wife, who was in London, called the coastguard.

It was terrifying. We were hit by a giant wave and sank in two minutes. We didnt even have time to put in a rescue call over the radio, Times Online quoted Patel as telling Spanish coastguards after his rescue.

We are just so grateful to the people who saved our lives and want to thank everyone involved in the search, he added.

The two men were spotted four miles from the island of Sa Dragonera, off the west coast of Majorca, following a massive search operation involving ships, helicopters and aircraft.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokeswoman said that the sailors were travelling from Palma, Majorca, to Tarragona in mainland Spain when their boat was hit by the wave and promptly sank.

No one was aware of the problem until the sailors wife dialled 999, she said.

The two men were experienced sailors and the woman provided a lot of information about them, their boat and their plans.

The men had taken to a liferaft. They were eventually rescued after four days and three nights in the liferaft and after an air-sea search covering 20,000 sq km, she added.

The spokeswoman also revealed that the two sailors were doing well.

One of the lessons is that if you have any concerns about anyone anywhere at sea then tell the authorities and something can be done, no matter where you are, she said.

Miguel Chicon, director of the Maritime Rescue Centre in Palma, told Spanish reporters: Its a miracle they have been found. The last contact anyone had with them was on the Wednesday night when they spoke to their relatives to say they had hit high seas and the boat was rolling and pitching. That was the last anyone heard of them.

Chicon added: On the Friday we began to think the boat must have capsized and began searching for debris or a liferaft. I called the captains wife with the news that he was OK. She was overcome she could not speak. (ANI)

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