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British sailor dies as yacht sinks in stormy seas off Canary Islands

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 02, 2010 11:28 AM

Published: 2010-12-02 11:28:02
Countries: Morocco , United Kingdom , Canary Islands

As reported by the Dail Mail

A British sailor has died after his yacht sank in stormy seas off the Canary Islands.

Jonathan Farrar, 64, from Harleston, Norfolk, lost his life during a dramatic rescue operation sparked after he sent out an SOS call. Fellow Brit Timothy Hall, 43, also on board the yacht Snooker, survived after being picked up by a tanker which answered the mayday alert.

Strong winds and stormy seas have battered the Canary Islands in recent days. The Norwegian ship, Tordis Knutsen, was heading to Gran Canaria on Tuesday (30 November) with the dead man's body and his sailing companion.

The Brits radioed for help around 7.30am on Monday 29 November, as they sailed in Moroccan waters 350 miles north east of the Canaries. The pair left Lisbon last Thursday, and were thought to be heading towards Lanzarote for a stopover before continuing to the Caribbean.

They got into difficulties as their yacht was battered by 23 feet high waves and winds averaging 45 knots. Tordis Knutsen answered their distress call and rescued the younger man shortly after reaching the stricken yacht. Mr Hall had to be dragged aboard using a life buoy because the bad weather prevented the crew using their rescue boat.

Mr Farrar died during the lengthy attempt to transfer him from the yacht to the tanker. One of the ship's crew was injured during a desperate bid to haul him out of the water as huge waves pounded against its side. He was already dead when he was finally pulled aboard two hours after jumping into the sea from his stricken vessel.

John Einar Dalsvag, spokesman for Knutsen Oas Shipping which owns Tordis Knutsen, said the tanker raced at full speed to the stricken yacht after receiving the distress call at 7.35am. They reached Snooker at 9.15am and saved Mr Hall within half an hour. They battled to rescue Mr Farrar, eventually pulling his body from the water at 12.05pm. They tried without success to resuscitate him.

Mr Dalsvag said: "Due to the bad weather situation we were not able to use our rescue boat. The officer of Tordis Knutsen that tried to rescue him broke his thumb and had to be taken to the on-board hospital. They tried to get the person on board but due to extensive fatigue he was so weak he was not able to hold himself to the pilot ladder."

A routine probe into Mr Farrar's death is due to be launched by an investigating judge in Gran Canaria once his body reaches the island. A spokesman for coastguards in Gran Canaria said: "We weren't involved in the rescue operation and know very little at this stage. The weather here has been awful in recent days and it may well have been why the yacht got into difficulties."

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