November 30, 2023


A British man has been rescued by a Dutch fishing boat in the Channel after his kayak capsized and he was left holding on to a buoy for days.

The captain, Teunis de Boer, said he had by chance seen the kayaker waving frantically as his boat Madeleine sailed past.

“He was clearly in distress,” the captain told Dutch media.

After the man was given water and a chocolate bar, he was airlifted to hospital by French authorities.

The drama unfolded late on Thursday morning several miles west off the French coast, in a shipping lane of the Dover Strait, also known as the Pas de Calais.

The boat captain said he was checking they were not steering too close to the Colbart Nord buoy when he suddenly saw something moving around on it. “I picked up the binoculars and saw a young man just in his swimming trunks waving at us like a madman,” he told De Telegraaf website.

They threw the Briton lifebuoys and hauled him on board. “He was covered in bruises and explained that he’d stayed alive by scraping mussels off the buoy and eating little crabs and seaweed,” Mr De Boer told public broadcaster NOS. He was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia, so the crew wrapped him in blankets.

A French coastguard helicopter was quickly on the scene and flew the Briton to hospital in nearby Boulogne.

In a statement, the French maritime prefect for the Channel and North Sea said, however, that he had left Dover around 48 hours earlier.

The prefecture warned anyone planning to cross the Channel of the risks involved in such an undertaking, pointing out that conditions were often very dangerous and more than 400 merchant ships passed through it every day.

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