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Facebook post saves capsized dinghy sailor

A teenage sailor, stranded after his boat capsized, was lucky to be found by Fowey lifeboat crew as he tried to swim to safety late last night.

The 18-year-old's boat had capsized and dismasted, throwing him into the sea. With his telephone affected by the water and only allowing him to post on Facebook, the sailor posted a message to say he was stranded.

Brixham Coastguard was contacted just before 11pm last night by police who'd taken a call from the teenager's mum. She said his post on Facebook said he was in trouble on his Laser sailing dinghy.

Fowey lifeboats launched soon afterwards, with the all-weather lifeboat searching the area towards Portmellon, while the crew on the inshore lifeboat headed out to search towards Pentewan.

Mevagissey and St. Austell Coastguard Rescue Teams, police and the ambulance service also attended.

The teenager was spotted in the water by the inshore lifeboat approximately half a mile south east of Black Head.

Christian Phelps, volunteer crew member onboard Fowey inshore lifeboat, said: 'We were searching the area when our search light picked up what we thought was a lobster pot marker.

'When we looked again, it started waving and we realised it was the young lad. He was incredibly lucky that we found him and we're delighted that we were in the right place at the right time and that this rescue had a happy outcome.'

'Treading water for two hours'

The young sailor said he'd been treading water for about two hours.

The volunteers on the inshore lifeboat hauled the sailor on board before transferring him to the all-weather lifeboat, which took him back to the station. He was then transferred to Treliske hospital to be checked over.

Christian added: 'We'd advise anyone heading out to sea to take some simple safety steps; carry a means to call for help, wear a lifejacket, tell someone where you're going and check the weather and tides.'

'Extremely lucky'

Andy Huber, Watch Manager at Brixham Coastguard, said: 'This young man was extremely lucky to be found when he was.

'He told rescuers that his mobile phone had got wet and he couldn't make a 999 call to the Coastguard. However, he did manage to post something on Facebook.

'He also told lifeboat crews he had been in the water for two hours and was trying to swim back to shore, even though he did not have a buoyancy aid or lifejacket on.

'We always recommend that if you're heading out on the water that you are well equipped with the necessary communications and safety equipment. Carry a VHF radio with you, a charged mobile phone in a waterproof bag, distress flares and an emergency beacon.

'These will all help you alert the Coastguard if you're in trouble, and a much more reliable way than posting for help on social media.'

Read more at http://www.pbo.co.uk/news/536949/facebook-post-saves-capsized-dinghy-sailor#BlWYedMb0SSKu2QR.99