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American saved from dinghy disaster

A 40-year-old American has been rescued after attempting to sail from Dorset to Ireland in a 6ft inflatable dinghy, Coastguards said.

The man had two paddles with him - but one was being used as a mast with a plastic sheet as a sail, and the other was acting as the rudder. On board the blow-up dinghy the man had a limited amount of food and drink for the journey.

Portland Coastguard received a call just after 3pm on Wednesday from a range safety craft reporting concern for the man, who was approximately 2.7 nautical miles south of Durdle Door.

Coastguards put out a broadcast requesting further information about the dinghy.

A dive boat responded with a sighting, provided a position and approached the dinghy to assess the situation.

The man, who was wearing a lifejacket and wetsuit, told the crew he did not require any help and did not wish to be taken ashore.

Later, the dive boat returned to scene and the man, who had left Osmington Mills at 9am that morning, agreed to get on board and be taken to Lulworth Cove. He was met there at 8.30pm by the Lulworth Coastguard rescue team, police and ambulance and received treatment for a high degree of sunburn.

John Braisher, watch officer at Portland Coastguard, said: "This man was extremely lucky to be found when he was. With no suitable communications equipment, limited life-saving equipment and inadequate food and drink resources for his passage to Ireland, the outcome could have been very different.

"If you're planning to head out to sea, the key is to be well prepared. Inflatable dinghies, such as this, are unsuitable and not recommended for coastal passages of this nature.

"It's also vital to have appropriate VHF/DSC communications, life-saving equipment and the resources to sustain a venture such as this person intended. HM Coastguard is always willing to discuss and provide advice on passage plans you may have."

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