Belfast Telegraph

Yachtsman found safe after major sea search

By John Mulgrew

A sailor who went missing yesterday morning has been found safe and well off the coast of the Isle of Man after an extensive search involving coastguards from Belfast, the Isle of Man and Liverpool.

A helicopter, aircraft and two lifeboats were dispatched in a bid to find the yachstman, who was travelling between the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

The search began yesterday after the man, named by Belfast Coastguard as Eddie Bowers, lost contact with his brother in Northern Ireland.

It appears he lost his mobile phone signal during the voyage.

Eddie had told his brother on Sunday morning he would be arriving at Ardglass harbour in Co Down that evening at around 9pm. He last spoke to his brother yesterday morning and reported having some difficulty with a strong tide.

The alarm was raised when he was unable to respond by radio or mobile phone.

A spokesman for Liverpool Coastguard, who were eventually called in to deal with the missing sailor, said he was discovered just off the coast of the Isle of Man.

"We found him six miles west of Dalby Point. He doesn't have a VHF radio and it seems his mobile phone had no signal.

"We pinged the phone to get his approximate position.

"A relative called Belfast Coastguard, but when we realised where he was, we were called in to deal with it," he said.

"The Port of Mary lifeboat finally spotted him and there was also a small local helicopter sent to find him along with various other vessels."

He said the next step in finding the missing yachtsman would have been to call in rescue helicopters, which would have involved a "really busy and difficult nighttime search".

Earlier in the day, Belfast Coastguard called out the South Down and Bangor rescue teams to undertake a search of local harbours, marinas and anchorages. Other harbours and marinas around the Isle of Man and Liverpool areas were also checked.

Around 50 people were searching for the 28-foot yacht, named Skybird, including a lifeboat from Portaferry and a fixed-wing aircraft sent in from the Republic.

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