By Humphrey Carter
A lone British yachtsman was safe and sound in Manacor Hospital after a lucky escape on Friday night as gale force winds battered eastern Majorca.
The alarm was raised yesterday morning by British couple Oliver and Elaine Cheetham.
They moved to Porto Cristo in May and normally have their yacht moored out in the harbour, however, they moved their boat into the safety of a mooring in Porto Colom during the week, ahead of the storms forecast to hit the island. Elaine Cheetham said yesterday that Joe arrived in the port about a week ago and has been moored out in the outer harbour. “We can see him from our apartment and have got to know him during the week,” she said.
Her husband Oliver explained that Joe from Plymouth gave the impression he was an able yachtsman, “he had almost single-handedly sailed the Atlantic,” Oliver said yesterday. But on Friday night, as high seas and gale force winds hit the port, the Cheetham's started to worry about Joe and Oliver even considered swimming out to try and get Joe to move his yacht into port “but the sea was too rough and it was too windy, so I managed to persuade Oliver not to,” Elaine said. “However, just before dark, we saw Joe's figure moving about the yacht so we figured he was alright.” But, at first light yesterday morning, there was no sign of Joe.
Oliver Cheetham went out to the yacht to see if he was alright, but all he found were the lights on, left food, Joe's shoes and a half sunken, deflated dinghy attached to the abandoned yacht. Fearing the worst the Cheethams raised the alarm and the Guardia Civil mounted an immediate search of the area.
As the morning dragged on, there was still no sign of the missing British sailor and as the search continued, Oliver Cheetham moved the yachtsman's boat into the safety of the harbour. However, just as the search was about to continue into the afternoon, the missing Briton was located in Manacor Hospital.
It transpired that Joe had fallen off his yacht during the storm and had either been saved by a group of eyewitnesses who spotted the sailor from the rocks or had managed to swim to the shore, “we're not too sure,” Oliver Cheetham said.

Either way he was rushed to hospital on Friday night by ambulance and was recovering in the clinic yesterday. “He certainly had a very lucky escape, conditions were very fierce in the outer harbour on Friday night,” Oliver Cheetham said.


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