Wester Ross sailor, 72, survives wave ordeal

Gerry Beard had been making his way home from Iceland

A 72-year-old lone sailor was swept off his yacht by a wave in a force eight gale before another wave pushed the craft back under him saving his life.

Gerry Beard was close to completing an 11-day trip from Reykjavik in Iceland to his home in Shieldaig, in Wester Ross.

He was swept overboard north of the Butt of Lewis on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Beard fell back onto his yacht, Meris, and into the cockpit where he activated a distress beacon.

Stornoway's coastguard station and RNLI lifeboat crew responded.

The lifeboat towed the Meris to Stornoway in Lewis where Mr Beard spent the night at the town's Fishermen's Mission.

'Dropped back'

Mr Beard was making his way from below deck to the cockpit but was swept overboard.

He told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that he was lucky to be alive.

Mr Beard, an experienced sailor, said: "This wave picked me up and took the doors off the cabin.

"I thought 'I'm on my own here'. Then all the water went away and the boat came back towards me and I dropped back into the boat."

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