THE captain and crew of Southampton-based liner have been honoured for rescuing a yachtsman whose boat was sinking in the Atlantic.

The ship's company of the Cunard’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, received the Royal Cruising Club's Medal for Seamanship for saving sailor Mervyn Wheatley.

After a huge wave knocked over his boat, and she started taking on water, Mr Wheatley activated his distress beacon. In heavy seas and rough weather, with the help of RAF Hercules and Canadian search and rescue services, the crew of Queen Mary 2 took on the task of bringing the skipper to safety.

Captain Chris Wells coordinated the crew who launched a tender which plucked Wheatley from the water and he made the rest of the crossing in luxury aboard the liner.

Mr Wheatley, who has sailed more than 400,000 miles, including three transatlantic crossings in one year, also received the Medal for Seamanship.

Captain Wells collected the award on behalf of the crew of Queen Mary 2, at a ceremony held at The Royal Cruising Club in Knightsbridge.

“I am honoured to receive the medal on behalf of the crew, from the Royal Cruising Club, with Mervyn," said Captain Wells.

“It is standard seafaring practice to help someone in distress, Mervyn is a highly experienced mariner and was hugely unlucky to have been hit by such a large wave, I was glad we could help.”