A British GP and his wife currently holidaying in Paphos were rescued from the sea off the coast of Limassol by RAF Akrotiri personnel, after strong winds and large waves forced them on to rocks on a day trip to Limassol, it emerged on Tuesday.
Dr Eamonn Jessup, who regularly appears on BBC1 and ITV news bulletins and on BBC Radio Wales as ‘the radio doctor’, and wife Moira, sang the praises of personnel based at RAF Akrotiri, where they spent Monday night after what should have been a leisurely day in the sunshine turned into a dra-matic rescue in the dark.
Dr Jessup spoke to the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday after arriving back in Paphos: “We were about half way between Paphos and Limassol on our boat Deucalion of Tryon, which is a 37ft sailing boat, when out of nowhere a strong wind whipped up from the east, hitting the boat head on, and this meant that our speed went from 5 miles an hour down to two miles an hour.”
As the waves and wind picked up, this hampered their progress so much that darkness fell and as they rounded the Akrotiri peninsula, although they were following their GPS waypoints, they hit a rock.
“There was a strong wind, pushing us towards the shore and the boat was completely grounded at around 6.30pm. It was scary stuff, but our training kicked in,” Jessup said.
He said the couple let off their emergency flare and carried out Mayday calls. Thankfully, the water around the boat wasn’t too deep, although powerful waves were battering the vessel.
“We deployed the life raft and then soldiers from the base braved the elements and came to our rescue.”
Moira threw them a line, and the pair, lifejackets inflated, jumped into the water, holding onto the line for guidance.
They both suffered cuts to their feet after losing footwear and bruising on the legs.
“Thankfully that’s all that happened, although we are feeling more shaken by the experience today than yesterday, which is surprising, but we are OK and so grateful to the base.”
Moria said on Tuesday:” The care from the base was amazing, we were taken to the medical centre where they took care of us and welfare officers gave us packs which included dry clothes. They even washed and dried our own clothes for us, before giving them back to us this morning.”
The doctor added: “I was breathalysed, quite rightly, and was found to have no alcohol in my system; I very rarely drink anyway. Wing Commander Steve Chappel put us up in the officer’s mess and we were given breakfast on Tuesday and a lift back to Paphos.”
The couple, who have been sailors for more than a decade, said that the incident has made them re-alise that nothing can be taken for granted, especially the weather.
“We double checked the weather forecasts before we set off. It was a glorious, warm and sunny day with only a mild southerly breeze forecast.”
The couple previously sailed their boat from Dubrovnik around the Greek islands, before heading to Paphos in June. The boat has since been moored at Paphos harbour.
They have not let the experience put them off the island though. “We’re here on holiday, and have been to Cyprus a few times before, we love it here and hope to move here in the future,” he said.
The boat, which is sitting on the rocks at a precarious angle, is due to be moved on Wednesday.