"IT'S NOT just putting himself in danger; he's putting the people trying to get him back in danger as well."
That was the damning assessment of Penlee RNLI coxswain, Patrick Harvey, after his crew braved force 8 winds and huge waves to rescue a yacht 12 miles south of Newlyn last week.
In conditions that had caused most fishing boats to return to port to seek shelter, the yacht's skipper had put in a call to Falmouth Coastguard after the vessel lost engine power shortly before 3pm last Thursday.
The yacht, Change Of Course, almost capsized on a couple of occasions during the rescue before it was towed in to Newlyn harbour by the Ivan Ellen almost three hours later.
The conditions were so rough that a second inshore lifeboat, the Paul Alexander, was also called out to help guide the vessel back into the port.
After the incident, Mr Harvey questioned whether the yacht, which had three people on board, should have been out in the first place.
He told The Cornishman: "The yacht sailed from Newlyn knowing the forecast. There's no excuse for small yachts to go to sea in those conditions. It's not just putting himself in danger; he's (the skipper) putting the people trying to get him back in danger as well.
"(We thought he might capsize) a couple of times, when he got hit by a couple of big waves, we thought they were going to go.
"In the wind it was a bit hairy trying to get the tow rope over."
The Change Of Course was heading to Falmouth when its sail came loose in the wind and wrapped around its rudder and engine.
The rescue was made during a period of severely unseasonal weather for west Cornwall, as rain and winds of up to 50mph battered the region.
Services to the Isles of Scilly were disrupted, as the Scillonian III was docked in St Mary's Harbour last Thursday.