Bulgarian man stopped five miles into fated voyage from Dorset to America in 14ft dinghy

Lifeboat crews said he faced 'certain death' crossing the Atlantic

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The Independent Online

A Bulgarian man’s attempt to reach America in a dinghy from Dorset has been thwarted by rescue crews concerned about the safety of his voyage.

The 30-year-old man was stopped just five miles into his journey on Saturday afternoon after a passing yacht called the coastguard because he looked seasick.

He was found “cold, wet and being violently ill” by a crew from Mudeford RNLI, who eventually managed to get him onto their lifeboat after he refused help for 45 minutes, determined to continue his mission.

The RNLI said the intrepid sailor was found with just a bag of food, clothing and a US visa in his 14ft dinghy, which was taking on water in rough seas and had no safety equipment on board.

The man was not wearing a lifejacket, his boat had no lights and the only navigational aid in his possession was a street map of Southampton.

He had bought the boat for £300 from Christchurch harbour before setting off on Saturday in strong winds and unseasonably cold temperatures.

Pete Dadds, part of the lifeboat crew who attended the incident, said the man would have died if he had continued.

“When we reached the gentleman he didn't want us there, he wanted to carry on his way,” the 41-year-old fisherman said.

“We were not happy leaving him out there. He kept saying 'I am going west'.

"His boat was not properly rigged so he was just getting battered, he was at the mercy of the elements.

“We said 'if we leave you, you will die'.”

Wearing only a pac-a-mac and jacked and leggings, Mr Dadds said the man’s personal belongings including “odds and ends”, biscuits, beans, hot dogs and his passport.

"I ended up cuddling him at the back of the boat to keep him warm," he added.

"He would have died, he was severely sea sick, he had the first signs of hypothermia and his boat was filling up with water.

“There's no chance it would have kept going for much longer.”

The RNLI crew arrived back at Mudeford at around 6.30pm and the man was immediately taken to hospital by the waiting ambulance.

His boat was then towed back to shore.

As part of its “respect the water” campaign, the RNLI is urging people to take precautions when sailing or doing watersports and never to underestimate the power of the elements.

Additional reporting by PA