The captain of an Irish vessel which began to take in water, forcing its crew to abandon ship, did all he could to turn the situation around, a spokesman for the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.
The five-person crew were rescued from their life raft after they made a phone call on sight of land nine days after they first set sail.
A spokesman for the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the vessel was owned by French woman Stephanie Preux and was bound for Cherbourg when it left Kenmare, Co Kerry on September 6.
The ship started taking on water at around 3am on Tuesday September 7 and shortly afterwards the main bilge pump failed, he said.
“The sea swell started picking up and by 5am they were unable to cope. The two smaller pumps on board couldn’t cope and they tried all sorts of things but it just wasn’t working, so they hoisted the sails. But the sea was getting rougher and rougher.”
The captain, David Faulkner, from Surbiton, south west London, decided to issue a “pan pan” warning – one down from a mayday call on the vessel’s VHF radio – but nobody picked it up, he said.
“The crew saw a nearby trawler and they fired flares but presumably they didn’t see him. They then started making mayday calls when the situation became impossible.
“They also lit whole rubber tyres on the deck as a way of creating a smoke signal but by 5pm on the Tuesday they abandoned the vessel and got in a life-raft.
“They then set fire to the vessel in order to create an attraction. The skipper was brilliant but unfortunately nobody saw. They were two-thirds of the way to the Isles of Scilly in very deep water so perhaps that is no surprise.”
Mr Faulkner had loaded the life-raft with food and water as they did not know how long they would be at sea, he said.
The life-raft was blown west, north and then south until at first light this morning, they saw land.
Also on the life-raft were Mr Faulkner’s son Ian, Australian Bjorn Bjoreth, German Jurgen Hensel and the French owner.
Their provisions of water ran out yesterday but they still had a few food supplies left.
“It’s a fantastic story and the captain did an unbelievable job in doing all he could,” the spokesman said.
The life-raft did not have an emergency tracer fitted and the crew did not have a hand-held VHF radio, he added.