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Maritime And Coastguard Agency: Search for missing British sailor in Bay of Biscay

News   •   Jan 04, 2010 11:37 GMT

Falmouth Coastguard have been assisting the Spanish authorities after a British sailor has been reported missing in the Bay of Biscay.

52 year old Paddy Macklin set off from Falmouth earlier last month in a 27ft yacht following in the footsteps of other single handed round the world sailors. He is on board ‘Tessa’, an Alan Buchanan Clyde Cruising Club 6.5 tonne.

It has been reported that he has no corporate backing and the venture is entirely self-funded costing in the region of £40,000. The only item he had on board for contacting the authorities is a satphone which he also used to contact his family.

Falmouth Coastguard also knew that he had on board food to keep him going for 600 days. .

A former painter and decorator, Paddy has lived in Falmouth for about ten years and bought ‘Tessa’ 15 years ago.

Mr Macklin contacted Falmouth Coastguard on the 29th December when he was in adverse conditions in the Bay. He was approximately 200 miles from shore at the time. The weather had been very heavy with force 9 gales blowing for the previous 60 hours. His next intended port of call was the Canary Islands. He also confirmed he had no emergency positioning indicating radio beacon on board and that he only switched his iridium phone on when required.

This was the first occasion the Coastguard knew of his round the world attempt.

Yesterday (December 31st) his family contacted the Coastguard to report that Mr Macklin had not, as previously arranged, made contact with them, and that they were now very concerned for his safety.

The Spanish Coastguard at Madrid were contacted as the area in which he was last known to be sailing is within the Spanish search and rescue region. Both the French and Spanish Coastguard have made attempts to contact him but with no result.

A Spanish aircraft was also scrambled to investigate the last known position of the yacht but after a considerable search nothing has been seen of the missing yacht. It is also known that the last time there was any activity on the Iridium phone was on the 29th December at 14.06.

Marc Thomas, Duty Watch Manager at Falmouth Coastguard said

“We are very concerned for Mr. Macklin, particularly as the hours tick by with no word.

“Our Spanish colleagues have undertaken electronic and visual searches over a huge sea area and have come up with nothing. We are particularly alarmed knowing the kind of fearsome conditions at this time of year in the Bay of Biscay. The weather forecasts for the area are for heavy seas to continue. Mr. Macklin’s radio could have broken and he could still appear at a port in the Canaries, but he have no way of knowing of his present condition.

“We did not know of this attempt until Mr. Macklin contacted us by radio. He had managed to secure some funding for this venture, and for the cost of around £250 he could have purchased an EPIRB which would have emitted a signal if something catastrophic had occurred to his yacht and he had been thrown into the water. The EPIRB would have been instantly picked up by the Coastguard, and rescue units would have homed onto his position.

“As it is the rescue authorities have no way of knowing where he is in that vast expanse of sea, and we can only hope a passing vessel may spot something, but we must bear in mind that survival time in the water is measured in hours and minutes, not days.”


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