Lifeboat Called To Sick Yachtsman

The Elixir, with the Russian warship, the Vice Admiral Kulakov, in the background. Photo courtesy of Richard Mills.

The St Mary’s lifeboat raced 65 miles southwest into the Atlantic Ocean yesterday to respond to a call for medical assistance from an 81-year-old single-handed yachtsman.

The British sailor was on a solo voyage back to Falmouth from the Azores when he became unwell. A Russian warship, the Vice Admiral Kulakov, was standing by the 37ft yacht Elixir until the volunteer crew arrived, after launching at 11.45am on Monday morning.

Despite some concerns raised by Falmouth Coastguard that there could be language problems with the Russian crew, coxswain Stuart Hitchens on board RNLB The Whiteheads, said communications were fine and the crew he talked with all spoke good English.

The weather and sea conditions were perfect and the lifeboat averaged around 26 knots on the journey out, passing close by the Queen Mary II giving hundreds of passengers on deck the opportunity to take photographs and wave at the lifeboat crew.

Several of the crew took photographs of pods of dolphins that accompanied them on their way to the casualty.

Once back in the harbour just after 10pm, the yacht was put on the Custom’s buoy and the skipper was landed on the quay where Robert Francis took him to the Star Castle Hotel for the night.


6 Responses to Lifeboat Called To Sick Yachtsman

  1. pete hicks September 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

    hi all
    i was the lifeboat crewman placed on board the yacht on our arrival at the scene 2 hours and 20min after launching.
    on arrival the russian warship vice admiral kulakov was on scene and had dispatched a rib to the elixir after the yachtsman had attracted their attention with a hand flare.
    the russian crew who to my surprise spoke fantastic english explained the situation regarding the yachts engine and more importantly the health and well being of its skipper.
    they had amazingly got the engine restarted with what battery power was left in the 2 batteries and had fed and watered the skipper who although tired and a bit emabarrased about all the fuss was in good spiirts.
    after what i would call a 100% hand over from the russian lads they said their farewells , took some photos and returned to the warship.
    i stayed aboard the yacht for the tow back to st marys to keep the skipper company but most of all to allow him to sleep and relax.
    we chatted at length over the 6 or so hours towing ,he told me about his exploits sailing round cape horn and all i can say is what a remarkable man. he is an inspiration to me and the rest of the lifeboat crew to be sailing solo in atlantic voyages at the fine age of 81.
    i hope he is well and fully recovered and continues to enjoy his sailing.
    All the best

  2. Steve Watt September 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Morning Andrey,
    Thanks for your message. The reason I didn’t mention the role of the
    Vice Admiral Kulakov in the rescue is that I didn’t know about it. The
    article was based on messages from Falmouth Coastguard and from the
    lifeboat crew once they arrived back in the Isles of Scilly. The more
    background facts the better, but in truth I wasn’t told about the
    action of the Russian warship other than she was ‘standing by.’ If I’d
    known I would have mentioned it in the article.
    Steve Watt
    St. Mary’s Lifeboat Press Officer

  3. grandchild of yachtsman September 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    That was my grandpa! such a bizarre night when they called to say how he’d been found, we’d been worried for a few days as to where he was etc – he said that the russians were incredibly helpful, repairing his ship and bringing a medic on board, but the coast guard were also incredibly helpful for the days prior to his discovery informing us of their search. Our family is very thankful to everyone who helped, to all those on board the Vice-admiral Kulakov for their attentive assistance and to the coastguard for their persistence and their reassurance throughout the search, a-like

  4. Ricky September 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Indeed a very dishonest and disgraceful but very typical British description of the incident. Shame on you and show some gratitude!

  5. mall September 5, 2012 at 8:09 am

    How about the non-russo-phobic truth for once? As reported by the Russian and the rest of the free non-anglo-american press:
    “The yacht’s master, an 83-year old citizen of the Great Britain received first medical aid. He told Russian naval mariners that over 10 days he had run into a severe gale heading for the Great Britain from the Azores. The gale wrecked the yacht’s engine and electronics, as well as torn the main sail.

    Russian servicemen brought hot meals and medicines to the yacht. Electricians recovered equipment and repaired the engine. The Russian destroyer’s command contacted coast guard of Falmouth port (UK) and informed on the incident happened to the British citizen at sea. “

  6. Dre September 5, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Strange description. The Russian Navy destroyer “Vice-admiral Kulakov” responded to the SOS, sent in a rescue team aboard the Elixir. The team provided medical assistance, food and fixed the electrical equipment and got the engine running on the yacht. The UK rescue boat was called in as well. Why is this not mentioned? Standard anglo-saxon style of half truths? No respect here.