7 amazing rescues at sea
Man leaps from yacht with his cat in dramatic rescue

Who says dog is man's best friend? For this French sailor, saving his cat was the number one priority when his yacht was caught in rough weather 400 miles south of Alaska. The video shot by the US Coast Guard shows one of the most amazing rescues at seas – certainly one of the most nerve-wracking to watch as the small sailboat bucks in the ferocious seas as the sailor attempts to jump to safety.

The sailor was heading from Alaska to Vancouver when his 30-foot sailboat lost its rudder and rigging in the heavy seas and 46mph winds. The Coast Guard dispatched a plane to assess the situation and then contacted the Polar Pioneer oil drilling vessel to ask for assistance. A support ship, the Tor Viking, was sent to the rescue.

The sailor tucked his cat into his clothing before making the leap on the ship. It has been reported that both the man and his cat are safe, a heartwarming example of an animal being rescued at sea.

Helicopter airlift rescue from tidal estuary

Sailing can have its share of perils, and one thing every sailor needs to be mindful of is tides, as we were reminded of when a story broke in August 2015 about two people having to be airlifted from a yacht in the Humber Estuary in the UK. The Humber Estuary is famed for its huge tidal ranges, due to its location on the North Sea. The mean spring tidal range is 5.7 metres, increasing to 7.4 metres as you move further into the estuary.

The yacht was unable to escape the swift moving ebb tide and got stuck on the sand bank. The UK Coastguard had been called in to rescue those on board the dangerously listing yacht. As seen in the video below, which gives a clear aerial view of the rescue at sea, a search and rescue helicopter airlifted the yacht's crew to safety.

"They had done the right thing by using their VHF radio to call the coastguard as soon as they had realised they needed help," said Richard Johnson, senior maritime operations officer for the UK Coastguard.

Captain overboard!

The captain of the 29 metre yacht Contessa had to be rescued by US Coast Guard when he fell overboard. The yacht was 10 miles from Nassau, the Bahamas, when the captain plummeted from the vessel.

A US Coast Guard Detroit MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was returning to Miami from Great Inagua in the Bahamas and received a mayday call. The Miami base contacted the Royal Bahamian Defence Force, who sent its MH-60 Jayhawk to swoop in to help the captain. As seen in the video below, a rescue swimmer was able to spot Contessa’s captain, and he was hoisted to safety and treated for minor injuries. The search was also aided by several smaller vessels in the area and cruise ships, a real team effort that, fortunately, had a happy ending.

14 rescued from the HMS Bounty

The original HMS Bounty was famed for a mutiny that happened aboard in the South Pacific in 1789. The replica of HMS Bounty became almost as famous as her predecessor, starring in the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando and in Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Sadly, HMS Bounty entered the news again when she came to a tragic end in 2012. Sailing dangerously close to the path of super-storm Hurricane Sandy, the 18th century replica yacht sank 100 miles off of Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Coast Guard was able to save 14 of the crew from life rafts that were found drifting 90 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. The rescue took place in 40 mph winds, 18-foot waves and very limited visibility.

Richard Branson, who has been involved in his own celebrity rescue at sea, commented on his blog at the time of the sinking. “My family sailed [on the] HMS Bounty this year in the British Virgin Islands, and we got to know the crew and captain", Branson said. "It is extremely sad that he is missing and very sad that such a beautiful boat is now at the bottom of the ocean.”

“We’re getting rescued! We’re going to live!”

It’s the age of documenting everything we do, so it's no surprise that a group stranded off of Hawaii captured their own dramatic rescue on video. Four teenagers and four adults were stranded when their 21-foot centre console boat started taking on water and sank 12 miles offshore.

One of the group members, 14-year-old Mark Reeves, captured the rescue on his Go Pro camera. In the video, you can hear the group’s celebratory shouts, “We’re getting rescued! We’re going to live!” and feel their joy as the helicopter flies into view.

Wisely, they were able to grab life jackets and kayaks from the boat before it sank and make phone calls from their mobile phones before these got wet. This is a reminder of how important it is to have the proper safety equipment on board and a VHF radio if out of cell phone range.

Rescue in the middle of the ocean

This rescue is impressive for the fact that it happened so far out to sea. A fishermen suffering bad burns was rescued by the California Air National Guard from a Chinese fishing vessel more than 700 miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter made the rescue and brought the man to the hospital on shore for treatment.

Surviving in the freezing Pacific

There’s no denying the dangers of around-the-world yacht racing, and Andrew Taylor’s amazing rescue at sea is proof how fast things can go wrong.

Sailing in the Clipper Round the World Race in 2014, the sailor fell overboard during a standard sail change procedure. He fell into freezing cold water and battled to stay conscious until he could be rescued.

"We were trying to swap down to smaller sails, and it was something we were used to doing. We were getting bashed around but it wasn't something that was foreign to us”, Andrew Taylor says. "When I realised I was in the water I braced myself, waiting for my safety line to snag and I realised very quickly I was disconnected”.

Stranded 1,500 miles off land, it was too far for a helicopter rescue, so Andrew Taylor had to wait until his team could make their way back to rescue him – and hope they could find him like a needle in the haystack of the ocean. Luckily, the boat did return and spot him, and his crewmember, Jason Middleton, went into the water to help recover him. Taylor says this was most arduous part as the boat was crashing into them and at one point they both thought they were going to drown.

Andrew Taylor sustained hypothermia, and a year after his recovery he published a book about the ordeal called 179W, the name alluding to the coordinates of where Andrew went overboard.