Novice sailors win a yacht on eBay (but lose their bid to get it home)

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The Independent Online

Two sailing novices who bought a yacht for £3,000 on eBay were left stranded after smashing into rocks on their maiden voyage.

Sid Hashim and his son were attempting to sail the 24ft vessel just 700 metres from a marina to a neighbouring harbour when they ran it aground at high tide just after midnight.

The untrained sailors, who had "little or no knowledge of the area", had gone to Guernsey to collect their purchase after bidding for it on the online auction site. The pair's night-time cruise came to an end when the boat became stuck on a reef near the entrance to St Peter Port harbour and they were forced to make a Mayday emergency call to the coastguard.

The lifeboat that was sent to rescue Mr Hashim and his son could not get near the rocks, so the sailors were forced to wait until 2am for a dinghy to save them.

The pale blue yacht, named Ardel, was not as lucky and remained trapped at sea yesterday despite Mr Hashim's pleas with the harbour master to save it. The father and son from south London now face the possibility that their prize purchase will be smashed to pieces by the waves unless an equally high tide arrives in time to push it off. Captain Peter Gill, the Guernsey harbour master, said that Mr Hashim and his son were trying to move the boat from the Queen Elizabeth II marina when they ran into trouble on the Goubeau Reef.

"They had been on the top of the tide and it deposited them on the rocks," he said. "In the end a harbour dinghy took them off because the lifeboat couldn't reach them."

Such incidents are not uncommon on the Channel Island. He added: "A similar thing happened last year with a French yacht, but before that it was several years before we had another incident." Mr Gill said the vessel – which is now drawing crowds to the harbour – would be "lucky to survive" for very much longer due to bad weather forecasts.

Another harbour spokesman said Mr Hashim and his son had been "testing" the boat after having it repaired.

Mr Hashim, an engineer from Egypt who works for an avionics company in Penge, south London, is believed to have called in sick to work yesterday after the accident.

A female colleague said: "I'm worried for him now as everyone will know what's happened."