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.

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'.

''His boat was not properly rigged so he was just getting battered, he was at the mercy of the elements.

''We said 'if we leave you you will die'. He didn't have a life-jacket, just a buoyancy aid and the vessel didn't have any lights.

''All he had on was a bag of personal belongings which were a few odds and ends, a bag of biscuits, beans and hot dogs and a bag with his passport in.

''He was obviously suffering from the first signs of hypothermia. He was only wearing a pack-a-mac jacket and leggings.

''He was absolutely sodden.''

The man boarded the RNLI lifeboat, where he was violently sea sick and ''very, very cold'', Mr Dadds added.

''I ended up cuddling him at the back of the boat to keep him warm,'' he said.

''He would have died, he was severely sea sick, he had the first signs of hypothermia and his boat was filling up with water.

''There's no chance it would have kept going for much longer.''

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

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

His boat was then towed back to shore by the crew.