September 29, 2007
Lone sailor rescued from small boat
A lone sailor, who may have been at sea for more than a month on a stolen yacht, has been rescued by the Naval Service. The 22-year-old man, who is believed to be Russian, is fit and well.
Le Katell, a four-metre vessel, was first spotted by a British-registered Spanish fishing vessel, Willing Boys, on Thursday. Such was its size and distance from shore that the fishing vessel approached it to see if it was in difficulty. The yacht’s sole occupant on board appeared to be disorientated, and waved the fishing vessel away. They contacted the coastguard to say the man appeared to be confused and disoriented.
The French coastguard confirmed that the 12 foot yacht, Le Katell, was stolen from Roscoff harbour on 23 August, and requested that the Naval Service go to the scene.
[OR….Differing news reports…]
The sighting was relayed to the Naval Service and Irish Coast Guard, which confirmed with French authorities that the yacht had been reported as stolen from the French port of Morlaix on August 28th.
Under international UNCLOS maritime regulations, the Naval Service is empowered to board a vessel if safety of life is involved. It has no powers to detain the vessel, but it is expected to report the discovery to the French authorities.
An RAF Nimrod spotted the boat in the water yesteday afternoon, and relayed the information to the LE Aisling. Navy officers found one man on board. He had some food and water, but no radio or navigation equipment – and only a life ring for safety. The man was brought aboard, where he had his first meal in days.
The small boat was also lifted onto the naval vessel, and is due to arrive in Cork Harbour this morning. The man and the boat were handed over to gardaí on arrival.
Navy officers, through the use of translation cards, have established his name, Valdim Smolyak, and that he is 22 years old and from Russia. It is believed the man left France on 23 August, and he may have been at sea since that time. It is understood that he was trying to make his way by sea to the Mediterranean.
A navy spokesman said he had been either an extremely good sailor, or extremely lucky.
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