Shipwreck is moved from Holywell beach

Marie Celeste shipwreck, being removed from Eastbourne beach March 22nd 2013 E13027P

Marie Celeste shipwreck, being removed from Eastbourne beach March 22nd 2013 E13027P

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A major salvage operation took place on Friday to remove the shipwrecked Marie Celeste from an Eastbourne beach.

The yacht had been stranded on the beach at Holywell for almost after a week after its skipper had to be dragged to safety when the vessel hit rocks near the Beachy Head Lighthouse on Friday March 15 and the early hours of the following morning.

The man was arrested by police and detained under the Mental Health Act following the dramatic rescue which saw coastguards, lifeboat crews, police officers, and the crew of the rescue helicopter working in attrocious weather conditions and high seas.

The 65-year-old man is still in hospital but friends of his have been working alongside Eastbourne Borough Council to recover the boat and return it to Essex, where the man lives.

Early on Friday morning a crane arrived on the seafront and lifted the damaged boat onto the back of a lorry so it could be transported away.

The removals costs were thought to be in the region of £5,000 which the council says it will be reclaiming from the skipper of the vessel.

Passers by watched the salvage operation from adjoining beaches.

The initial rescue of the lone sailor was carried out after he put out a Mayday distress call to the coastguard saying his 36 feet yacht was running aground on the beach below South Cliff Tower.

The lifeboat was launched but because of low tide and breaking surf couldn’t get close to the boat and the coastguard rescue helicopter was also unable to reach the yacht because of the high seas. Coastguards Tony Brinnand and Andy Lee waded out to the vessel and eventually had to drag the skipper out through the cabin hatch to safety.

The following day bomb disposal experts disposed of contaminated flares and 400 litres of diesel were pumped from the yacht’s engine.