FOUR Irish sailors were thanking their lucky stars following a dramatic rescue off the coast of Bermuda after their yacht sank.
The four businessmen, all experienced sailors, were picked up by a Greek freighter after their boat lost power and was battered by powerful seas.
Skippered by Alan McGettigan from Dalkey in Dublin, the 48ft yacht Wolfhound sank just after the four were plucked to safety.
Mr McGettigan, a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, left Connecticut in the US more than two weeks ago on board the yacht accompanied by three friends, Morgan Crowe, Tom Mulligan and Declan Hayes.
The boat had only been purchased in December by Mr McGettigan and their voyage was to have taken them to Bermuda and then Antigua.
But disaster struck about 400 miles off the Delaware coast after the boat lost battery power and suffered mechanical failure as weather conditions worsened.
A Bermuda coastguard spokesman said the yacht suffered two "knock-downs" as huge waves pushed the boat over before it righted itself.
"With the mechanical failures and damage they sustained, they put out a distress call which we received about 70 miles north of Bermuda," the spokesman told the Irish Independent.
A Greek freighter, the Tetien Trader, which was in the area at the time, picked up the emergency call and managed to pluck the crew from the yacht before it sank shortly after the rescue.
The ship, which is on its way to Turkey, is expected to stop off in Gibraltar early next week where the four lucky crewmen will be put ashore.
A spokesman for law firm Arthur Cox confirmed that Mr Hayes was a solicitor with the firm and said they were delighted he and the crew were safe and well.
"Our thoughts are with them and their families after this stressful time," he said.
Dublin Bay Sailing Club secretary Donal O'Sullivan described Tom Mulligan, the club's protest secretary, who handles disputes during competition events, as a very experienced sailor.
"I'm very relieved that nobody has come to any harm and that they were all picked up," he said.