A FRENCHMAN with his cat tucked inside his clothing made a leap of faith when he jumped to a waiting rescue ship from his sailboat, which was being battered by high seas south of Alaska.
US coastguards captured the dramatic video from a C-130 Hercules airplane monitoring the rescue. The man’s identity has not been released, but Petty Officer Lauren Steenson in the port of Kodiak said his yacht was called La Chimère (The Chimera).
The lone sailor activated a location beacon on Tuesday about 400 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska. The Hercules was dispatched to see if he needed help.
Its crew made radio contact with the sailor, who reported his 30ft vessel had lost its rudder and rigging in heavy seas and 46mph winds.
“With the 20ft seas, his boat is getting pretty well thrown around,” said Ms Steenson.
He had no control and the boat was “pretty much dead in the water,” adrift in high seas, she added.
The coastguard made contact with the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling vessel used by Royal Dutch Shell off Alaska’s north-west coast. The ship and support vessels were nearby as they made their way back to Port Angeles, in the west coast state of Washington.
The Polar Pioneer sent a support ship, the Tor Viking, to the rescue.
Video shot by the coastguards shows the Frenchman on the rigging pole near the bow of his yacht, riding wave after wave until making a leap over the railing of the Tor Viking.
He disappears behind the railing head first. After a few seconds, a crew member of the Tor Viking is seen walking toward the man, who then stands up.
Ms Steenson said the Hercules pilot told her the sailor had placed his cat inside his clothing before making the leap.
Once he was safely aboard the Tor Viking, the coastguard marked the position of his drifting yacht for future reference.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the man would continue with the Shell ships to the US port.
His yacht left Dutch Harbour, Alaska, on 13 October, headed to Vancouver. Ms Steenson said his final destination was not known at this time.