Sailor rescued after SOS text to father in Halesowen

Image caption,
Mr Mountjoy was stuck at sea with a seriously ill crew member

A trainee sailor whose yacht ran into difficulties in the Caribbean has been rescued after texting his father in Halesowen, West Midlands.

Paul Mountjoy, 39, became stranded off the coast of the Dominican Republic on Tuesday when the hydraulics in his boat's steering failed.

A member of his cabin crew then fell seriously ill with appendicitis.

Paul texted his father Keith Mountjoy after failing to make contact with the local coastguard for five hours.

Falmouth Coastguard received a call from Keith about his stranded son at 0842 BST on Tuesday and began communicating with Paul via his mobile phone immediately.

The UK coastguards contacted their counterparts in the Dominican Republic and a Dominican naval vessel was dispatched to tow the 30-year-old, 42ft (12m) ketch yacht to shore.

Paul said he wanted to contact someone who would not panic.

"Once I got onto the mobile phone signal it was, 'right, who do I call?'," he said.

"I looked at the time and I thought, well, the person I know who is not going to panic and get me the right help is my father.

"Because the signal was very sketchy I sent him a text message.

"Being like he is, I got a note back saying, 'I'll get on to the coastguard'.

"He got hold of Falmouth Coastguard who rang me... they rang the US Coastguard, they got hold of the Dominican Navy and about five hours later they came out and towed us in."

The sick member of crew, from the US, was taken to hospital.

Keith Mountjoy, of Hammerley Close, Halesowen, said: "Paul's not one to panic so when I got the text from him I knew it was serious.

"He gave me all the information I needed to tell the coastguards. I knew the boat wasn't going to sink so I wasn't all that worried."

A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard said: "He was not that far off from the coast but there were a lot of rocks in the area, which obviously posed a risk to personal safety."

Former IT consultant Paul had sold his flat in Camden Market, London, in February, to pursue a career as a sailor and was three-quarters of the way towards attaining his Ocean Master's sailing certificate.

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