Search for 4 missing British sailors in Atlantic resumed by US coastguard after petition

  • American authorities caved to pressure to continue searching for missing crew on Tuesday
  • Comes after yachts from around the world vowed to search at the boat’s last known location
  • Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to thank the U.S. on Twitter
  • The private search was described as channelling the ‘Spirit of Dunkirk’
  • U.S. Coastguard previously called off their hunt for the men on Sunday
  • Nearly 200,000 people signed an online petition urging them to restart
  • The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki were returning from Antigua Sailing Week
  • They ran into difficulties on Thursday but lost contact with land on Friday
  • Missing are Andrew Bridge, Paul Goslin, Steve Warren and James Male
  • Mr Goslin’s wife said relatives had been on ‘emotional rollercoaster’, but that hopes were now ‘much higher’
  • The Royal Yachting Association tonight welcomed the decision to resume the search for the missing yachtsmen

Sam Marsden
and Daniel Martin
and Arthur Martin

07:20 EST, 20 May 2014


02:50 EST, 21 May 2014

A flotilla of small sailing boats yesterday joined the search for four British yachtsmen missing in a remote part of the Atlantic.

The move came as the US Coastguard bowed to mounting public and diplomatic pressure from the UK to resume efforts to find the crew of the 40ft Cheeki Rafiki.

Evoking the spirit of the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk by a fleet of ‘little ships’, about 40 private yachts are heading to the area where the stricken boat is thought to have drifted since it  capsized on Friday.

Scroll down for video

Rally: Family members of the missing sailors arrived at the Foreign and Commonwealth office on Tuesday to meet Hugh Robertson MP as the US Coastguard has confirmed it has restarted the search

Pictured left to right are Cressida Goslin, wife of Paul Goslin, Graham Male, father of James Male, Gloria Hamlet, girlfriend of Steve Warren and David Bridge, father of Andrew Bridge

The boats joining the search include a
group of eight yachts and a further 32 vessels from Antigua, many of
which have been competing in regattas across the Caribbean.

The skippers
of a further 35 yachts taking part in a rally organised by the World
Cruising Club have also been asked for help.

Austrian catamaran named Malisi yesterday reached the 130-square-mile
search zone and carried out sweeps for any sign of the missing sailors.

All smiles: The last picture of the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki shows the sailors enjoying an awards ceremony at the end of the Antigua Sailing Week 2014. Steve Warren is shown left, Paul Goslin, is second left, Andrew Bridge is seen second to right, and James Male is pictured right

Rafiki captain Andrew Bridge, 22, and crew members James Male, 23,
Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, were about 1,000 miles east of
Massachusetts when their yacht began taking on water on Thursday.

families are clinging to hopes that the men  managed to get into the
boat’s life-raft and are simply awaiting rescue.

Warren’s sister Kay Coombes, 46, from Wincanton, Somerset, said: ‘We
can only hold out hope they will find something.

Thanks: David Cameron was quick to applaud the Coastguard on Twitter

Andrew Bridge, who was skippering the Cheeki Rafiki

Missing sailor Paul Goslin

Andrew Bridge, left, who was skippering the Cheeki Rafiki. Also missing is 56-year-old Paul Goslin, right

Missing Steve Warren

Missing sailor James Male

Fellow crew members Steve Warren, 52, left, and 23-year-old James Male, right, were also on board the ship


There are extraordinary tales of survival in life-rafts. Chinese sailor Poon Lim lived for 133 days after his British merchant ship was torpedoed in 1942 – and yachtsman Dougal Robertson spent 38 days at sea in 1972.

But they were in warm waters near the equator – not the cold North Atlantic where the Cheeki Rafiki went missing.

The crew could only expect to last if they stay dry and have drinking water.

Otherwise it’s ‘hours rather than days’, said physiology professor Mike Tipton.

The RNLI said sailors suffer from cold-water shock – even if they are fit and good swimmers.

But Tony Bullimore, who spent five days in the upturned hull of his boat in the freezing Southern Ocean in 1997, said the  missing Britons could survive for months. 

‘Miracles happen at sea,’ he said.

‘They said they are
going to keep their eyes peeled for anything that may help us, so we are
clinging on to that at the moment.’

There are estimated to be 100 or more yachts sailing across the Atlantic to Europe after spending the winter in the Caribbean.

captains have been asked to consider switching course to pass through
the search zone – although some will be too far away, hampered by
weather or lack of fuel.

Wyatt, of the Isle of Wight-based World Cruising Club, said: ‘They are
looking for anything – debris, the life- raft. But with every hour that
passes, the zone gets bigger.’

He added: ‘The decision whether to divert course to assist is down to individual skippers. We can only make an appeal.’

US Coastguard came under fire for ending its search after only two
days, although it claimed that the crew could only have survived in the
atrocious weather conditions for 20 hours.

Relatives launched a campaign
to have the operation resumed, winning the support of celebrities, top
sailors, politicians and more than 200,000 people who signed an online

The American
authorities finally performed a U-turn yesterday in response to requests
from the British Government, and sent an aircraft back to the area
where the men vanished.

Mr Goslin’s wife Cressida, 51, from West Camel,
Somerset, said it has been a ‘complete emotional rollercoaster’ as
discussions swung back and forth between the Foreign Office and the US.

Bridge’s grandmother Valerie, 75, added: ‘We are delighted.

Help: James Male’s dad Graham Male, pictured, made a direct plea to Mr Cameron to keep looking for the missing men

‘We’re going through hell': Kay Coombes, sister of missing yachtsman Stephen Warren, has been told 40 private boats are to search for the boat, which lost contact with land on Friday

Hull sighting: On Saturday, a cargo vessel, the MV Maersk Kure, spotted and photographed an overturned hull, pictured, which matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki but reported no signs of people on board

Treacherous: Search teams battled ‘treacherous’ conditions – including winds in excess of 50 knots and 15 to 20 ft waves – to search for the missing yacht, pictured

The Cheeki Rafiki, pictured during Antigua Sailing Week, before it ran into difficulties returning to the UK

‘All we
wanted was another search. It might not come to anything, but people
want them to do it and they are trying.

‘It seemed too quick, just two
days, and we were saying, “If only they could do it for a bit longer”.
You never know what could happen.’

‘intensive discussions’ between ministers and the US authorities, David
Cameron wrote on Twitter: ‘My thanks to the US Coastguard, which has
resumed its search for our missing yachtsmen.’

Comments (275)

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The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Grumpy Expat,

Leiden NL,

3 hours ago

No mention of EPIRB signals being received. Perhaps that’s why the US coastguards gave up so soon.

Ex Pat USA,


7 hours ago

Where is the EUSSR coastguard? Still talking about it?

Grim Grimbarian,

Port Elizabeth, South Africa,

7 hours ago

They spent billions searching for a lost Malaysian jet but won’t search for British sailors that could be still alive! Thousands of British soldiers maimed or killed fighting America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! America is n’t much of a friend when they won’t send their coastguard to search!


Whitstable, United Kingdom,

10 hours ago

Nobody forced them to sail off to take part in some Caribbean regetta so why should tax payers of various countries be forced to pay huge sums of money on continuing to search for them. The initial search turned up nothing – so be it, when you are an adult you make your own life choices but have to stand by the consequences. Is there any bandwaggon that Cameron will not jump on?



11 hours ago

Has the overturned ship been searched? You often hear about people surviving in air pockets etc for days…


Cardiff, United Kingdom,

12 hours ago

why should they



12 hours ago

Life rafts also have an automatic distress beacon. If the laft raft was launched this would have gone off.


Little Oakley, United Kingdom,

12 hours ago

I’m going to leave any money left to the RNLI. My dad helped fish G-ALYP up off the med in 1953 and sent a letter home with drawings of the bar door, a woman’s shoe and other bits of wreckage. I’ve recently scanned them. It beggars belief that the US Coastguard can be so heartless, Thanks for getting back to the job.



12 hours ago

A liferaft is too often that nuisance item on board. It cost money, is supposed to be serviced frequently and yet there are many recorded incidents where it has simply sunk and not inflated. One must pray that theirs worked.



13 hours ago

Dont understand why tracking devices are not fitted into life rafts…..

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