Man overboard in Pacific Ocean, crew battles to save him

(CBS News) A British sailor is recovering after a life-threatening scare in the Pacific Ocean. Crew members battled rough seas to find and save the man.

The sailor, Andrew Taylor, 46, was part of a team racing around the world, but for 90 dramatic minutes that race was one of pure survival. The entire search was caught on camera.

It's a call no one at sea wants to hear. The captain of the Derry-Londonderry-Doire, Sean McCarter, can be seen saying in the video, "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! We have a man overboard, we require immediate assistance. We are trying to locate the casualty, but we do not have a visual."

During a routine sail change, a huge wave swept Taylor off the 70-feet-long yacht and into the frigid water.

"We started going through the motions and trying to estimate where he might have drifted to," McCarter said. "A needle in a haystack doesn't even describe what we were looking for."

An amateur sailor, Taylor was halfway through the Pacific leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, traveling from China to the U.S.

Despite clear visibility, it took over an hour before crew members finally spotted their shipmate among the crashing waves, his yellow jacket a mere speck in one of the most remote parts of the Pacific Ocean.

After several attempts, frantic crew members managed to pull Taylor, a father from London, to safety.

He spent 90 minutes in the water, and later recounted his terrifying ordeal.

"I came up. I braced myself waiting for the safety line," he said. "Next thing I knew I hit the rudder. Flash of purple. Smack on the rudder. I didn't know if you were looking for me or not. ... I didn't know if you'd see me."

Taylor, who was wearing a dry suit, was treated for hypothermia and shock. He's expected to make a full recovery and rejoin his crew members who are already back in the race.

Taylor said, "God the storm was bad. That was horrible."

Race officials say Taylor had a safety tether attached to his life vest when he went overboard. An investigation is not yet under way as to why it wasn't attached to the boat.


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