Friday 28 October 2016

Hero ship pilot who saved castaway from shark-infested waters in dramatic rescue is a Dubliner

Published 29/01/2013 | 20:10

THE cruise ship pilot dubbed "Captain Fantastic" for his dramatic rescue of a lone Frenchman who was stranded for three days on a raft in shark-infested waters off Australia has been revealed as a Dublin native.

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Captain Mick Taylor, originally from Raheny, north Dublin, made headlines around the world after he answered a distress call to rescue French yachtsman Alain Delord who clung to a raft in the Southern Ocean off Tasmania for three days after his yacht sank on January 18.

Capt Taylor, who emigrated to Miami, Florida with his wife Marilyn more than a decade ago, faced seven-metre high swells and winds of up to 75 kmp/hr when he diverted the Antarctic cruise liner the MV Orion, with 100 passengers on board, for two days to save the 63-year-old French sailor’s life.

The cruise ship was the only vessel to respond to the distress call when it was eleven days into an 18-day Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic tour equipped with ten Zodiacs and experienced crew able to respond to a rescue mission in heavy seas.

Speaking at the time to the Australian newspaper “The Daily Liberal”, Capt Taylor said the chances of finding Mr Delord alive, if at all, was “a very big if.”

“Now that it's become apparent he is in a life raft and not in a boat, it has become more problematic because a life raft is harder to see. It's a very big ocean out there,” he said.

“Providing we can locate him – and that's a very big 'if' – the plan is to put the ship as close to the raft as we can and launch a Zodiac,” Capt Taylor said.

He was hailed a hero around the world following the successful rescue on January 20 as Mr Delord faced a third gruelling night adrift at sea in freezing temperatures.

However, he was wrongly portrayed as a British national, which Mr Taylor’s proud sister Linda Taylor was happy to correct.

“I couldn’t believe when I was watching and reading about the attempt to rescue the sailor that it was my big brother who was captaining the rescue ship,” Ms Taylor, from Coolock, north Dublin, said.

“It was so exciting but very serious at the same time to think someone’s life hung in the balance.”

“Were it not for my brother and his ship getting to the sailor as quick as they did - and even at that it took 53 hours - I don’t think that sailor would have survived another night.”

“I just thought if he’s going to have 15 minutes of fame he’d better get it in his home country too,” she said.

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