Russian sailor rescued twice in one week off Great Yarmouth coast

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Photo: Paul Garrod/Caister Lifeboat

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Photo: Paul Garrod/Caister Lifeboat - Credit: Paul Garrod/Caister Lifeboat

A Russian sailor known only as 'Valerie' has been rescued by lifeboat crews off the Great Yarmouth coast twice in the space of a week.

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Picture: Caister Lifeboat

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Picture: Caister Lifeboat - Credit: Archant

A Russian sailor known only as 'Valerie' has been rescued by lifeboat crews off the Great Yarmouth coast twice in the space of a week.

On December 6, a routine training exercise for one lifeboat crew turned into a real emergency after they were alerted to a stricken yachtsman off the coast of Caister.

The crew of Caister Lifeboat were tasked into action after another vessel reported to HM Humber Coastguard that a single-handed yacht looked to be in difficulties seven miles off Caister.

Within 20 minutes of the call, two members of the lifeboat crew were on board the yacht Olivia, where they found the yachtsman had injured his right hand.

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Photo: Caister Lifeboat

Caister Lifeboat on the scene of a striken yacht on December 6. Photo: Caister Lifeboat - Credit: Caister Lifeboat

The Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat was also sent to tow the boat back to land.

Caister Lifeboat escorted both boats back in rough seas and the vessels had returned to Great Yarmouth Harbour by around 2.30pm, where the yachtsman was checked over by the ambulance service.

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However, this was not the last the crews would hear of the vessel Olivia, as the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat was again called out on December 12, when the yacht got into difficulty two miles north east of the Great Yarmouth pier heads, close to Scroby Sands.

When the lifeboat arrived around 3pm, the yacht had run aground just south of the wind farm. The crew attempted to get close enough to pass a tow line but were unable to, and a second boat was launched to help with the rescue.

The yacht Olivia back in Great Yarmouth harbour, after being rescued for the first time on December

The yacht Olivia back in Great Yarmouth harbour, after being rescued for the first time on December 6. - Credit: HM Coastguard Gorleston

Whilst waiting for this to arrive, the first boat attempted to fire a rocket line, with a tow line attached. This was successful on the second attempt but due to the weather conditions, the lifeboat was blown closer to the sand.

At one point the bottom of the boat touched ground so the attempt to tow the yacht off the sands was aborted and instead the sailor on board was rescued. This took five attempts, with the second lifeboat on close standby.

Once the sailor was on board, both boats returned to shore leaving the yacht stranded on Scroby Sands.

After the first rescue the sailor was able to stay on his boat, but on Saturday he was put up in a local hotel by port chaplain Revd Peter Paine, who also runs the Great Yarmouth Seafarers Centre.

'He didn't speak any English,' said Revd Paine. 'We managed to find out he was 53 and he called himself Valerie, but that's all we could find out.

'So I put out an appeal on the radio for emergency toiletries, finances and also a Russian translator, and a woman from Watton came forward.

'She and her son spoke Russian and they helped to put him at ease, and we found out that he'd left St Petersburg at the end of the summer to get to Morroco for winter, he never had any intention of stopping in this country.

'But the next thing we found out from the Border Agency is that he only had until Monday until he had to leave the country, so we managed to get him to the Russian embassy in London, and we now think he must be at home.'

It is believed it may be a week before tides allow the sailor's yacht to be recovered, but Caister lifeboat have recovered a rucksack from on board - which had been packed ready for an evacuation - and this will now be sent back to Russia.

Coxswain of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat Paddy Lee, said that once again the sailor was very lucky, as on both occasions he had no VHF radio and had to rely on his mobile phone and eagle-eyed spotters onshore to call for help.

'He was very lucky that his yacht didn't break up, forcing him in to the water,' Mr Lee said.

'He obviously didn't learn from last week, where he was spotted by the Putford vessel who reported him in trouble.'

Station operations manager, Neal Duffield, added: 'He was spotted on Scroby Sands, after dark. It's a big sea, it's very much like finding a needle in a haystack.'

He said the sailor was 'very fortunate' to be alive.