Seafaring students to the rescue of OAP who capsized his dinghy
SEAFARING college students found themselves in the middle of a rescue drama when they spotted a sailor in the water.
An 82-year-old man was seen clasping to his upturned dinghy off Beesands by yachting students from South Devon College.
Acting quickly the two college vessels — Endeavour and Aspiration — split their rescue efforts with one going to pick the man up from the sea and the other communicating with coastguards and the RNLI.
Thanks to the quick thinking efforts of students the man was plucked from the water cold and shaking but safe.
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When RNLI crews arrived he was taken to hospital but was not injured.
Alan Willetts, a second year yacht operations student, said: "We were all out doing our training and could see someone was in danger in the water.
"Endeavour went ahead to assist the elderly gentleman who had scrambled on to the top of his upturned dinghy.
"They managed to get him on board and keep him warm with tea and biscuits.
"Meanwhile, I was on Aspiration and our skipper was in touch with coastguards.
"It was decided it wasn't safe to take him back ourselves because there was a strong off-shore wind and we didn't want to risk him getting hypothermia."
The Dartmouth inshore lifeboat then came out and the man, who had not been wearing a lifejacket, was treated by a paramedic and taken back to shore to be checked up at Dartmouth Hospital.
"From a student's point of view it was all quite exciting," said Alan.
"We were dealing with something we had never been faced with. The whole rescue effort and the communication side of it all with the coastguard and the RNLI was fascinating.
"It just brought home to us how dangerous a situation can become in a short time."
The students were out honing their navigational skills as part of the second year foundation degree yacht operations course.
The course is designed to give young people a recognised qualification for work at sea, including skippering vessels.
Andy Wright, programme coordinator, said: "Our students acted in a professional manner with excellent seamanship skills throughout the rescue ensuring that the gentleman was looked after and safe throughout.
"They demonstrated a high level of nautical skills and communicated well together.
"The skipper, Ian Mills, and the crew of Endeavour were lucky to see the sailor and initiate a rescue before the wind blew him out to sea.
"I am very proud of the professional way the staff and students acted throughout, well done all involved."
The incident took place on Thursday afternoon.
Coastguards confirmed the students had been the first to spot the man in trouble and their actions had been decisive.