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British sailors rescued by Belgian helicopter

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 07, 2010 07:12 PM

Published: 2010-01-07 19:12:29
Countries: United Kingdom

As reported in

Two British sailors have escaped with their lives by being rescued by a Belgian helicopter when their brand new 45ft yacht Justice hit a sandbank off the Kent coast and sank.

The pair were off Herne Bay in Kent when they hit the bank. They called the May Day in the early hours of yesterday morning, before daylight, and a rescue boat from the Margate Coastguard Rescue Team was launched. They reached the grounded boat and successfully pulled if off the bank. However in the process of the grounding the hull had been severely breached, water gushed into the boat and it almost immediately sank.

It then took a helicopter hastily scrambled from Belgium to rescue the pair from the sea. They airlifted the men to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, but they were released after observation.

The shocked pair then returned to Herne Bay to watch as the wreckage of the yacht was washed up on the beach in front of the Kings Hall.

Kevin Andrews, of the Margate lifeboat, said the situation had "deteriorated rapidly and dramatically" but the men had acted quickly. "They probably owe their lives to raising the alarm at an early stage. It is always sad when a vessel is lost but the most important thing is that the two men are safe and well."

The men had collected the four week old yacht from Ramsgate and had been sailing to Katherine's Dock, London, where they live.