Man rescued trying to sail to US in cheap dinghy
A man has been rescued five miles off the Dorset coast while attempting to sail to America in a £300 dinghy.
He was not wearing a life jacket, his boat had no lights and his only navigational aid was a street map of Southampton.
Aside from that, the 30-year-old Bulgarian had a passport containing a US visa, hot dogs, beans and a bag of biscuits.
He bought the 14ft vessel from Christchurch harbour and then set off on his 3,500-mile voyage across the Atlantic.
Passing yachtsmen raised the alarm after spotting him looking seasick in choppy water off Hengistbury Head, near Bournemouth.
The man, who was alone on the sailing dinghy, refused help when an RNLI lifeboat arrived and kept saying: "I am going west."
After refusing assistance for 45 minutes, the crew dragged him on to their boat and took him to shore.
Lifeboat crewman Pete Dadds, 41, said the dinghy was taking on water, and the man would have died if he had not been rescued.
"When we reached the gentleman he didn't want us there, he wanted to carry on his way," Mr Dadds said.
"We were not happy leaving him out there. He kept saying 'I am going west'.
"His boat was not properly rigged so he was just getting battered, he was at the mercy of the elements.
"We said 'if we leave you you will die'. He didn't have a life jacket, just a buoyancy aid and the vessel didn't have any lights."
He added: "He would have died, he was severely sea sick, he had the first signs of hypothermia and his boat was filling up with water.
"There's no chance it would have kept going for much longer."
When the RNLI crew arrived back at Mudeford, the man was taken to hospital by ambulance.