Rescued Polish sailing ship nears Britain

31st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Polish sailing ship which lost both its masts in heavy storms was due to arrive at a British port Sunday after its 47 crew, many of them teenagers, spent two grim nights at sea, the coastguard said.

The Fryderyk Chopin was towed back by a fishing trawler which had responded to the ship's call for help Friday when it became stranded about 100 miles (160 kilometres) southwest of the Isles of Scilly, off the southwest English coast.

"It looks like she'll be coming into Falmouth probably mid- to late-afternoon today (Sunday)," a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) told AFP, referring to a port in Cornwall.

He added: "Everyone's fine but they'll have plenty of stories to tell when they get home about how frightening it was, because I'm sure it was."

The tall ship, which includes among its crew 36 cadets aged between 14 and 16, called for help on Friday morning after one of its masts broke in a severe gale and the coastguard called for passing vessels to help.

The second mast later came down too and the spokesman said: "The vessel is really quite a mess, with things dragging in the water."

Weather conditions continued to be bad on Saturday and the fishing trawler, the Nova Spero, only managed to pull the ship at about a knot (one mile) an hour -- hence the slow progress, the spokesman said.

Polish embassy officials will be at Falmouth to meet the ship, he added.

© 2010 AFP

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