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It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime; an escape from reality. However, a family’s dream yacht trip turned into a nightmare as their vessel became stranded and they had to be rescued from the Atlantic ocean.

Parents James and Fran Coombes departed from Portugal in November, and were planning to sail to Barbados on the Dove II. They had their children Heath, nine, and Isla, seven onboard with them, as well as a 71 year old family member, Tony White.

After enjoying a fortnight of blissful sailing, they then began to get into trouble when winds whipped up to 30 knots and rudder on their craft was broken because the water was so rough. That left them stranded for three days.

The family, who usually live in the popular British holiday destination of Cornwall, said that Mr Coombes jumped into the water to check what the problem was with the rudder, only to realise that it was completely smashed and they had no steering at all.

Call for help

They desperately called authorities in Jamaica for help, and were transferred to officials in Martinique, who called them every 30 minutes to make sure they were okay. Four hours later, they were rescued by a cargo ship. After several failed rescue attempts, as the efforts were being hampered by high winds, the children were in tears. Eventually, a British yacht came to the rescue. Mrs Coombes and the children were able to jump into a life raft and make it to the rescue boat.

Meanwhile, Mr Coombes stayed to try to salvage the yacht. But when the main sail broke too, he had to give up. The family made it to Martinque on Christmas Eve, after 20 days at sea. They marked Christmas as best they could, with the children getting paper bag stockings and keyrings wrapped in tourist maps.

The family have now offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who spots and is able to save their boat, which is currently lost at sea.

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