Sailor heading for US in dinghy gets five miles before having to be rescued

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A sailor was rescued five miles off the coast of Dorset last night – after attempting to sail to America in a 14ft dinghy.

The 30-year-old Bulgarian national purchased the £300 boat from Christchurch harbour on Saturday before setting off on his voyage.

He was spotted looking seasick in choppy seas at around 5pm by a passing yachtsman, who called the coastguard.

An RNLI lifeboat crew from Mudeford attempted to help the man, who had a US visa on board, but he refused their assistance for 45 minutes. He was eventually dragged onto the RNLI lifeboat and taken to shore, where police and an ambulance crew were waiting.

The man was not wearing a lifejacket, his boat did not have any lights and the only navigational aid in his possession was a street map of Southampton.

Pete Dadds, 41, a lifeboat 
crewman who attended the incident, said the man would 
have died if he had not been rescued.

“When we reached the gentleman he didn’t want us there, he wanted to carry on his way,” the commercial fisherman said.

“We were not happy leaving him out there. He kept saying ‘I am going west’.

“His boat was not properly rigged so he was just getting battered, he was at the mercy of the elements.

“We said ‘if we leave you you will die’. He didn’t have a lifejacket, just a buoyancy aid and the vessel didn’t have any lights.

“All he had was a bag of personal belongings, odds and ends, a bag of biscuits, beans and hot dogs and a bag with his passport in.”