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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 13:53 GMT
Rescued Briton abandons new yacht
Map of Bermuda
A British yachtsman was rescued by an oil tanker after suffering a bad fall during a solo Atlantic crossing.

Alan Thompson, 61, of Chichester, West Sussex, suffered a suspected broken pelvis on the Padolu, about 690 miles (1,111km) north east of Bermuda.

Two US coastguards helped him off the yacht and aboard the tanker which had responded to a mayday call.

But the Padolu, thought to have cost about $33,000 (16,866), is now at the mercy of Atlantic currents and winds.

Falmouth Coastguard was alerted by a friend of Mr Thompson's, Roger Pocock, on Saturday evening and contacted US authorities.

The experienced yachtsman was said to be in a lot of pain and was given self-medication advice by a doctor over a satellite phone.

It was his last big adventure
Roger Pocock

The tanker was the nearest vessel to his new 37ft (11m) yacht when the distress call went out and went to his assistance.

A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard said Mr Thompson "was in a terrific amount of pain".

"We told him he would have to come off and it would be the last he would see of the boat, which isn't insured," he said.

"Now he's back on his way to the USA and I'm afraid the yacht has been abandoned."

The second-hand vessel was advertised for sale at $55,000 (28,110) by a Florida broker.


"He was upset at the fact he was going to have to leave it as you can imagine, after just paying out all that money," the spokesman added.

"We put it to him - you have to come off, we can't get you treated on board. In the end he agreed it was the best course of action.

"It would break my heart. He was gutted but I think he knew that was it."

Mr Pocock, 62, licensee of The Bull's Head pub in Fishbourne where Mr Thompson is a regular, said he received a call from Mr Thompson and it was "obvious he was in constant pain".

He said: "I don't know why he didn't put out an SOS, but maybe he didn't want to make a big alert."

Sinking possibility

He said that Mr Thompson was a "very experienced sailor", who had crossed the Atlantic twice with a crew when he was younger. He also used to own and run a sailing school in Chichester.

And he added this was Mr Thompson's second attempt to sail the vessel home - two months ago he set out but turned back because of poor weather.

"I just hope he stays in home waters in future," he said.

"I can't see him doing anything like this again, it was his last big adventure."

Mr Thompson was on his way back to the US on Sunday to receive medical treatment.

Padolu will either sink or the prevailing winds and current will take it back to the US.

If it hits the Gulf Stream it could even end up somewhere off the British Isles, the spokesman added.

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