Grandfather from Barnsley's 'euphoria' at dramatic sea rescue after sinking on solo trip off the coast of Rhodes

A grandfather whose solo trip was brought to a dramatic end when his sailboat sank off the coast of Rhodes has spoken of his "euphoria" at being rescued by a passing cargo ship.

Chris Pearsall was sailing solo on the Emma Rose from Crete to Cyprus last month when he was woken by a "bang" in the middle of the night as his boat struck detritus that littered the sea.

For hours he had battled to pump out water, hoping to keep her afloat until daylight, but eventually was forced to abandon ship as she sank - only for his life raft to be pulled down with her.

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Climbing aboard an inflatable dinghy, and scooping out seawater with a tupperware tub, he was rescued by an Ukrainian cargo ship, taking tea with the captain before he was brought to land.

Chris Pearsall, pictured with captain and crew aboard the Ukrainian cargo ship that came to his rescue. Image supplied.

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The Barnsley author of The Making of Harry Manning, who had been using the solo trip to finish his second book, said he has gone through "being miserable" about what happened to "euphoric" that he's still here.

He said: "No matter how bad it gets, there's always a bright side. Was I scared? No, I knew I had a life raft, I knew I had flares, I knew I would see a ship within a matter of days. And despite my little drama with the life raft it turned out OK. It seems the worst that can happen is not that bad."

Mr Pearsall, a father of two and grandfather of one, had been travelling from Crete to Cyprus with partner Allison and, when she returned home as planned, he had intended to head for Beirut.

Chris Pearsall, author and grandfather from Barnsley. Image supplied.

A sailor of 21 years, he said the weather that day had started perfectly, before winds fell and he realised he hadn't enough fuel to power the boat without sails, turning instead towards Rhodes.


There had been detritus in the sea which was clearly from a ship, he recalled, and shortly after midnight he had heard a bang as the Emma Rose struck something. Soon the water was up to his ankles in the saloon, and he readied his 'grab bag' with GPS signalling, spare clothes and flares.

By 2.30am the water was lapping at table level and he had to abandon ship. Climbing into the life raft, Mr Pearsall had turned back to see the boat suddenly tip - with the raft line still attached.

The view from the rescue ship of his inflatable dinghy. Image supplied.

Pulled under with the ship, he had scrambled back up to climb aboard an inflatable dinghy. With his dip, the GPS signal had activated, and it was just two hours before the cargo ship came to his aid.


Eventually, coastguard officers from Rhodes brought him back to shore, and he is now back in Barnsley, although the Emma Rhodes has been lost to the sea.

He said: "I've been thinking about it a lot, now I'm OK to talk about it. I wouldn't want it to happen - but I'm ecstatic it turned out as it did. Outcome is everything.

Rescue - Chris Pearsall, climbing aboard the rescue ship. Image supplied.

"My message is never be scared to try. I lost both my parents when I was 13, to natural causes.

"I'm 59 now, and I didn't do this because I could afford to sail off around the world, but because I want to be able to before it's too late.

"Whatever the consequences, it's nothing to the consequences of not being able to do it any more. I wasn't prepared to take that risk."

Mr Pearsall has additionally written a blog about his experience. To view visit

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The weather had been "perfect" earlier that day, said Chris Pearsall. Image supplied