British cross-Channel kayaker, 28, who was rescued ‘in bad shape’ after two days drifting off France when his inflatable boat sank is recovering in hospital as fishermen who plucked him to safety say it’s a miracle he survived by eating seaweed
A British man whose inflatable kayak capsized when crossing the English Channel to France is recovering in hospital in a ‘bad state’ after he was rescued yesterday morning after fishermen found him clinging to a buoy for dear life. His rescuers said it was a ‘miracle’ that the paddler, 28, survived by eating seaweed and mussels after he departed from Dover around 48 hours before, likely on Tuesday, and ran into trouble in the dangerous shipping lane.
French Channel authorities said he was found by fishermen holding onto the ‘Colbart Nord’ buoy around halfway between Dover and France. The crew of cutter ship ‘De Madelaine,’ from Urk in the Netherlands, rescued the English kayaker from the Channel at around 11am this morning, Dutch media reported. The French maritime prefect of the English Channel said he was conscious but his state of health required rapid treatment.
The paddler was then airlifted in French Helicopter Dauphin to hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer and was placed in intensive care. He is said to be able to talk but is in a ‘bad shape.’ The cross-Channel kayaker was found when Skipper Teunis de Boer – of shipping company T. de Boer en Zonen – was sailing between England and France this morning when he spotted something in the water.
The captain wanted to make sure they didn’t get too close to the buoy when he ‘saw something crazy moving’ near it, he told local media. Mr De Boer grabbed a pair of binoculars, and to his surprise saw the exhausted and distressed Briton wearing only a pair of swimming trunks ‘waving at us like a madman,’ according to De Telegraaf.
Despite the choppy weather, the crew quickly worked to rescue him by sailing towards him and throwing a life ring into the water. The man managed to use his last bit of strength to reach out so they could bring him to the boat.
He was reportedly suffering from severe hypothermia when he was brought onboard with a body temperature of just 26C (78F), Het Urkerland reports, which could have been lethal. The Briton was also bruised, dehydrated and his eyes were ‘very deep in his sockets.’ ‘It’s a miracle he survived,’ Skipper De Boer said.
The heroic crew then offered the exhausted man a Snickers chocolate bar. He then told them he had set out to kayak from Dover to France, but his boat had capsized leaving him the only option of clinging to the floating buoy. It is not known exactly for how long it had been since he capsized his inflatable kayak. He was incredibly lucky to be found as the crew had not initially planned to catch fish in the area but went sailing after this morning’s catch turned out to be ‘disappointing.’
The crew of De Madelaine then wrapped him in blankets and called the French Coast Guard. While he was unable to express his gratitude in words due to lack of energy, he made heart signs with his hands to thank the crew. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said they have not been asked for consular assistance in this case but were ready to support the British kayaker if requested.
The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with more than 400 merchant ships passing each day. Authorities warn strongly against crossing in a vessel unsuitable for the dangerous conditions.
Want more stories like this from the Daily Mail? Visit our profile page here and hit the follow button above for more of the news you need.