Budleigh Salterton dingy rescue - men tell of ordeal

PUBLISHED: 13:05 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 18 June 2010

Two men lucky to be alive after their dingy drifted out to sea off Budleigh Salterton have spoken of their ordeal - believing they would never see their families again.

Two men lucky to be alive after their dingy drifted out to sea off Budleigh Salterton have spoken of their ordeal - believing they would never see their families again.

Justin Lett, 40, and Alastair Melville, 27, both from Exeter, were rescued by Exmouth RNLI after their 12 foot dingy was spotted more than three miles out at sea.

An RNLI spokesman said the two men were 'lucky' they had not drowned, or drifted further.

The drama unfolded last weekend when the vessel the two friends were in ran out of fuel and the pair was unable to get back to shore.

As they drifted, their wives and children watched from the beach - totally unaware the men were in difficulty.

The pair - co-workers at Currys - drifted for six hours into the English Channel amid large waves and strong winds.

When they were rescued they had no supplies were sunburned, dehydrated and hallucinating from lack of water.

The wives of the men said they would have raised the alarm earlier, but thought their husbands would be 'annoyed' for alerting the emergency services 'for nothing'.

Father-of-four Justin said: "We were drifting out further and further. We started to row but we were going backwards.

"We then realised the gravity of the situation. We were just out there in the ocean.

"As it got windier and colder, the waves got bigger and we got wetter.

"The waves were smashing against the side and soaking us. I thought this could be it for us. We could not see anyone on the shore any more.

"We had a complete sense of hopelessness. The sea was rough and scary and we were rolling with the waves."

Once the wives raised the alarm, Exmouth's RNLI all-weather lifeboat and Sidmouth independent lifeboat rescue boat were launched, and the coastguard helicopter was scrambled.

The men were picked up by Exmouth lifeboat crew about three miles south of Otterton Point.

Justin said: "The relief that we felt when we saw the boat coming towards us was indescribable.

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