When Raoul Surcouf and his two expedition mates abandoned the 40-foot sailing boat Fleur on 1 May, she was taking in water and they presumed that she had sunk.
They watched from the bridge of the tanker, Overseas Yellowstone, which had come to their rescue, as the boat was pummelled by Force 10 winds more than 300 miles off the west Irish coast. Within minutes she had disappeared from view into the troughs of the towering, white-capped seas.
However, yesterday the JEP received a call from Malin Head coastguard on the north-west coast of Ireland asking whether we had a number for Raoul. A fishing boat had spotted Fleur around 120 miles south-west of Ireland and had reported the discovery to the coastguard.
‘The fishing boat had come alongside Fleur and realised that nobody was aboard,’ said the coastguard. ‘When I heard the name I recognised it immediately, as I have helped to co-ordinate the rescue with Overseas Yellowstone.’