News man rescued after river drama

IPSWICH: Tea and sympathy were the order of the day for one avid sailor at the weekend after he fell into the River Orwell and had to be plucked to safety by a passing boat.

Saturday morning began with high hopes after The Evening Star’s head of news Russell Cook took up an eleventh hour offer to go sailing.

He was just about to sit down to enjoy a full English breakfast at Isaacs on the Waterfront when he was offered the chance to go out on the striking 47ft Viking Blue yacht moored nearby.

After heading home to Nacton Road to get changed, he returned to the dockside to join up with skipper Lee Weavers, his able assistant and Viking Mariners receptionist Beverley Lloyd, plus six crew members, from Ipswich and Chelmsford, for a day’s cruise along the Orwell and to the North Sea.

But the return journey took a twist when Mr Cook was swept overboard in the middle of the river, just off Levington Marina.

“I was up at the front of the boat keeping an eye on one of the sails when the wind appeared to change and I got caught up in one of the ropes. It appeared to drag me across the boat and I teetered on the edge before falling over. It all appeared to happen in slow motion. I just hung on to the rope for dear life while I was in the water.

“Lee got all hands to help get the boat to slow down but I just couldn’t hang on long enough as the rope was burning my hands ... so I let go.”

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Fortunately he was wearing a life jacket and he was able to float safety although there was some concern as the channel was busy.

Another nearby yacht came to help. Mr Cook clambered aboard and was taken into Levington Marina before being transferred back to Viking Blue which moored in the river to await his return.

Mr Weavers praised the action of his crew and the passing yacht’s skipper and crew. “Everyone was fantastic and safety procedures were carried out to the letter. It was a freak accident but Russell appeared to be no worse for the incident and we were able to get him back on the boat and into Ipswich later in the day,” he said.

Mr Cook, who was nursing his pride over the weekend, praised Mr Weavers and the rest on board.

“They were wonderful and couldn’t have done more for me. I was originally wanting to go for a swim on Saturday as I knew it was going to be warm but didn’t think I’d end up in the Orwell.

“I can’t remember the name of the yacht that came to help me but I do remember the two on board. It was Laurie and Ivy and I can’t thank them enough. They were quick to help out and were wonderful.”

n Has a hero come to your rescue? Call the newsdesk on 01473 324790 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

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