By Tui Benjamin
A British sailor has been left homeless after his yacht sunk off the coast of Australia on a ‘shoestring’ £5,000 round the world voyage.
Nick Batty was rescued 1,300 miles off the coast of Perth, Western Australia, on Thursday after his boat, Talent, capsized and its mast was snapped off in treacherous weather.
The 49-year-old – who had sunk ‘every penny he had’ into the global trip before setting off from his hometown of Falmouth, Cornwall, in July – was stranded in the Indian Ocean for 15 hours before being rescued by a US merchant ship.
Nick, who has lost everything as he had no insurance for the vessel, which he also lived aboard, now plans to give up cross-ocean sailing for good – and buy a dog instead.
Nick, who is originally from Alton, Hants, said: “I had been thinking about doing a round the world trip for some time, it was a personal challenge.
“I had no insurance, I couldn’t afford it as I did the whole trip on an extreme shoestring budget. Talent had already been taken across the Atlantic a couple of times.
“I spent £5,000 in total over the winter preparing for the voyage, and £1,000 of that was on my food. That was all the money I had in the world.
“I lived on that boat, so it was everything I had in the world. When I set off I knew there was quite a high chance of not making it. But every day is a new day.
“I was unlucky really – luck is always a big factor.
“I wasn’t scared or in physical fear, I didn’t fear for my life. I’ve had 30 years of doing crazy things. My fear was in the large amounts of bureaucracy which would be waiting for me.
“There is no point worrying about what went wrong, I am always looking to the future.
“When I get home, my plan is to replace the boat with a dog, stop off-shore sailing and make an effort to settle down.
“I have been doing it for 20 years and it is an adventure for a while but for forever it is a tough life.
“I won’t be homeless for long, and if worse comes to worse I can buy a wreck and use that as my home.
“It is all a bit sad but I’m uninjured and though there was a bit of hardship and struggle, I’ve had a great time and a real experience.
“I lost the boat but I gained yet another story.”
Nick, who had worked as a yacht delivery skipper taking boats across the sea for 20 years, was undertaking his 31st ocean crossing.
He set off from Falmouth on July 8 and was 132 days into the voyage, which he hoped would take about 300 days in total.
He had sailed underneath the Cape of Good Hope and was making his way across the Indian Ocean towards New Zealand when he ran into difficulties.
Luckily when the strong waves violently capsized his vessel he was below board eating dinner as he said if he had been above deck he would definitely have been flung overboard.
After cutting the snapped mast and poles loose from his boat, he put out a mayday distress call and was rescued by US car carrier Patriot after 15 hours.
But Nick still had to face five metre-high waves while the huge vessel attempted to manoeuvre close to him so he could clamber aboard.
His boat was left to sink and he arrived into Freemantle in the early hours of this morning (MON) where he plans to spend several days ‘getting drunk’ before flying home to the UK.
Nick, who does not have children or a spouse, said: “I was sailing along quite comfortably, eating my dinner and playing a game on my iPad below deck, when I heard a massive bang and the boat was flung violently onto its side.
“That didn’t worry me because I have been knocked over lots of times, but then straight away there was another big bang and the mast snapped off.
“It’s possible she hit something, I’m not sure why she got knocked flat.
“I came back up and looked outside and the whole mast and all the poles were in the water underneath the boat, smashing into the bottom of the boat.
“I decided it was too dangerous to try and recover anything so I had to cut it all free.
“Once I did that the boat was quite stable but I had no way of moving – I was just stuck in the middle of nowhere.
“Some of the waves were five metres high and my little boat was getting bashed to bits, but the crew did an amazing job of getting it next to me.
“I was alcohol free on the boat for 136 days, so I am planning to get drunk for a few days before flying back to the UK.”
The Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) confirmed Nick was rescued by the Patriot after activating an emergency signalling device which was relayed to AMSA by the Internaitonal Emergency Response Coordination Centre in the USA.
A spokesman added: “Due to the distance offshore, AMSA chartered a Falcon 900 jet aircraft from Perth with a Western Australia Police officer on board to fly to the search area.
“The yachtsman was confirmed to be in good health, and the Patriot has now resumed its journey to Fremantle where it will arrive on 20 November.
“AMSA would like express our sincere thanks to the Master and crew of the Patriot for answering the call for help and rescuing the yachtsman in difficult conditions. Due to the remote location, their assistance was vital in this successful rescue operation.”