A SAILOR was rescued while trying to sail to America in a dinghy with only a map of Southampton to guide him.

The 30-year-old Bulgarian national was found off the coast of Dorset in a 14ft boat he purchased for £300.

He was spotted looking seasick in choppy seas by a passing yachtsman, who called the coastguard on Saturday.

But when an RNLI lifeboat crew arrived the man, who had a US visa on board, refused their help for 45 minutes and had to be dragged off the dinghy. He was not wearing a lifejacket, his boat did not have any lights and the only navigational aid in his possession was a street map of Southampton.

Pete Dadds, 41, a lifeboat crewman who attended the incident, said the man would have died if he had not been rescued.

“When we reached the gentleman he didn’t want us there, he wanted to carry on his way,” the commercial fisherman said. We were not happy leaving him out there. He kept saying ‘I am going west’.”

Mr Dadds said the sailor was “incredibly lucky” the yacht had been passing him and had contacted the coastguard.

The RNLI crew returned to base in Mudeford at around 6.30pm and the man was immediately taken to hospital by the waiting ambulance.