A WOMAN who spent two hours in the sea without a life jacket after falling from a yacht has described her ordeal as “terrifying”.
Yacht broker Prue Nash, from Hamble, near Southampton, was operating the sails of the Buccaneer yacht while it was returning early on Sunday morning from the Cork Week regatta.
She fell overboard about 80km off Lands’ End and had to remove her life jacket and harness when they became snagged under the boat. Her crewmates couldn’t find her in the dark and raised the alarm.
“I really didn’t think I was going to make it. It was terrifying,” she told the BBC yesterday.
After struggling free, she then had to tread water until she was rescued.
Falmouth Coastguard was alerted at about 1am and launched a rescue helicopter and two lifeboats.
Ms Nash was picked up two hours later by an RAF rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor and flown to hospital. She was uninjured.
Ms Nash said: “They couldn’t believe that they found me still fit and well after two hours.
“I really didn’t think I was going to make it. It was terrifying.
“It sounds really girlie and really silly, but I had a moment of talking myself into just keeping on paddling.
“Your arms get really tired and your legs really cold, but I said: ‘Keep on paddling and they will come’, and they did.”
Henry Purbrick of Falmouth Coastguard said cold sea water and heavy conditions usually proved fatal if anyone fell in and described Ms Nash’s survival as a “miracle”.
“A lot of people who go in the water tend to die very quickly,” he said. “The shock is enough to kill people, so the fact she survived says a lot for her skill.”
Ms Nash said she plans to go back sailing as soon as possible.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved