A rookie yachtsman single-handedly steered his boat back to the safety of Peterhead harbour yesterday after his skipper had to be airlifted to hospital with a “severe” head injury.
Billy Krestensen was left to take the helm of the Danish vessel, Neptune, after a freak wave swept his crewmate Kristian Lykke off his feet and slammed him into a cabinet.
Mr Lykke suffered a deep gash to his forehead in the accident, which happened about 120 miles east of Aberdeen, and was drifting in and out of consciousness while the pair waited for help to arrive.
Mr Krestensen, who was on his first yacht trip, had to sail the boat back to shore after Mr Lykke, 65, was taken aboard the BP-owned standby vessel, Caledonian Vanguard, which was in the area at the time.
The ship’s medic decided the injured skipper needed to go to hospital and a coastguard helicopter was sent to pick him up and fly him to Newcastle for treatment.
After mooring the 32ft yacht in Peterhead last night Mr Krestensen, a 30-year-old ferry captain, described the dramatic end to the pair’s voyage from Struer in Denmark.
“We left Struer yesterday (Monday) and were heading for Fraserburgh,” he explained.
“He was standing on the deck when a wave caught the boat and he slipped.
“He hit his head on a cabinet and got a 15in gash on his head – he passed out a couple of time before the boat got to him.”
The Caledonian Vanguard’s fast rescue craft (FRC) launched to pick up the injured mariner from his yacht and took him back to the ship.
Mr Krestensen said sea conditions were rough for the small boat at the time of the incident on Monday morning.
He said: “This is my first time in a sailing boat like that, I am a ferry captain usually.
“I was only supposed to help my friend get his boat to Scotland then fly back to Denmark.
“Right now I have no idea what is happening – the coastguard called me to say the helicopter had picked him up and that was the last I heard.”
Last night a spokesman for Aberdeen Coastguard said: “We received a call from BP to say that their standby vessel, Caledonian Vanguard, had taken a casualty on board.
“He had suffered a severe laceration to his head and was treated by the ship’s medic who said he required hospital treatment.
“This morning he was picked up by our coastguard helicopter and flown to a hospital in England for treatment.
“His injuries were not thought to be life threatening.”