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Sailors cast adrift in Atlantic

Six sailors, five of them British and the other an Irish national, are adrift in a life raft in the North Atlantic after their rowing boat capsized, coastguards have said.

The crew of the Sara G, which is taking part in the Atlantic Odyssey challenge to row from Morocco in north Africa to Barbados in the Caribbean, were 27 days into their journey when the 36ft vessel overturned at 11am on Monday, 520 miles from their destination.

Coastguards in Falmouth, Cornwall, who are co-ordinating their rescue with authorities in Martinique, said the crew were "safe and well" in the life raft, which they had lashed to the hull of their overturned boat. The Nord Taipei, a Panamanian flagged cargo ship, is en route and should get to them around 1am.

A coastguard spokesman said: "The shore contact for the Sara G managed to get through to the crew of the boat via satellite phone and ascertained that the boat had capsized and they had abandoned to the life raft, which was tethered to the capsized vessel. All crew are said to be safe and well."

The Atlantic Odyssey website names the crew as captain Matt Craughwell; Ian Rowe, a 45-year-old father of four; Aodhan Kelly, 26, from Dublin, Ireland; Simon Brown, 37, a father of three from Wiltshire; father-of-two Yaacov Mutnikas and 29-year-old Mark Beaumont, a documentary maker from Perthshire, Scotland.

The website states that they were rowing from Tarfaya in Morocco to Port St Charles in Barbados with the aim of becoming the first crew in history to break the sub-30 day barrier, calling it "ocean rowing's very own four-minute mile".

Writing on their blog on Sunday, Mr Craughwell said the boat was struggling to make headway because of "no wind and swells from every direction". "With the calm of the Atlantic Sara G has not only had her toughest week of the expedition, but her toughest week under my watch," he said.

"Yesterday saw us post only 60 nautical miles with a mixed bag of no wind and swells from every direction. Despite all of this the crew have battled on to make this small total. It has now made our world record attempt become the most difficult 10 days we will spend at sea this year. Morale is high and we hope for good weather soon, but it seems everything is against us at the moment!"

He added that the weather meant their solar and wind-powered equipment had run out of electricity, meaning they had had to resort to navigating "the old fashion way like the old mariners used to".

Falmouth Coastguards added that a further vessel, the Naparima, is also due to be at the overturned boat's location, by 4.30am.


From Belfast Telegraph