A 61-year-old yachtsman who had to be rescued from his boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean first raised the alarm by calling his local pub.
Alan Thompson fell on the deck of the vessel and is believed to have broken his pelvis. He managed to reach a satellite phone and immediately called Roger Pocock, the 62-year-old the landlord of the Bull's Head pub in Fishbourne, West Sussex.
The Falmouth Coastguard were alerted and launched a joint rescue with their American counterparts early on Saturday evening, 600 nautical miles north-east of Bermuda.
Mr Pocock said: "We received a call from him saying he was in trouble. He said he'd taken a fall. It was obvious he was in constant pain.
"I don't know why he didn't put out an SOS, but maybe he didn't want to make a big alert."
Mr Thompson, a divorced father-of-two, had just bought the 37ft Hunter Legend, called "Padolu", from a Florida boat dealer for £16,866 and planned to sail it back to the UK single-handed. Two US coastguards were airlifted aboard the sailboat to help him to abandon the vessel and board a nearby oil tanker.
A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard said: "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.
Mr Pocock said: "He'll be very sad he didn't make the crossing ...it was his last big adventure."