Men rescued from sinking boat after sailing from Swansea to Ilfracombe to buy pasties

Two men have been rescued from a sinking boat after they sailed from Swansea to Ilfracombe to buy some pasties.

The men had been on a day trip to the Devon town in a 32ft cruiser when they were hit by a large wave off Baggy Point on their return journey.

Ilfracombe RNLI launched both of its lifeboats to assist with the rescue after receiving reports of a cruiser taking in water.

Paul Hadfield, the owner of the ship which sank - The Gazelle - said the trip came about because the pasties in Swansea don't compare to Devon's.

"You can't get anything like them in Swansea," he said.

"We'd been in Ilfracombe for the day and I'd got nine pasties for colleagues back home".

Mr Hadfield is a very experienced sailor with a career of more than 50 years on boats.

He said he has regularly sailed the journey of around 20-30 miles from his home to Ilfracombe in search of pasties.

But this time the journey went wrong.

When a wave hit The Gazelle the situation escalated quickly, according to Mr Hadfield.

"It was a bit snotty as it is around Baggy but we weren't horsing it, just easing round to the quieter waters," he said.

He added: "Then a wave hit us and there was pretty sick swell so I think that is what did it - the wave popped out the saloon window and rushed in.

"And the volume of water already on the foredeck from the swell also swamped us - and suddenly we had water up to our knees in the saloon."

Mr Hadfield made the decision to call HM Coastguard.

"I could see those nine pasties were already floating," he added.

"And we knew that trying anything more was just going to cause personal risk to ourselves. It wasn't worth trying anything more. I knew this wasn't going to end well like it does in the movies."

The lifeboat crews took Mr Hadfield and his colleague off the boat and then attached ropes to tow it back to Ilfracombe harbour.

However, The Gazelle quickly started sinking.

Various pieces of debris were retrieved by the lifeboat after The Gazelle went under.

Mr Hadfield added: "I heard the engines of the lifeboat ease back and I thought 'that's it, she's on her way.'"

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Coxswain of the lifeboat that day, Stuart Carpenter, said: "Our first priority is always to rescue people before vessels and we are very pleased we were able to do that on this occasion.

"As we found out, The Gazelle had only minutes before sinking - if her crew had not been so cautious and called the Coastguard when they did, they could have been in the water with their boat."

While Mr Hadfield said the sinking was a day he would "never forget", he hasn't been put off making more trips in future in search of delicious pastries.

He plans to return to Ilfracombe for more pasties soon.