Body found in hunt for yacht skipper

THE search for a missing yacht skipper has been called off after a body was found in the sea this afternoon.

THE search for a missing yacht skipper has been called off after his body was found in the sea this afternoon.

A widespread air, sea and land search was launched yesterday after the 69-year-old's yacht ran aground with no sign of him at 5.30pm on Thursday.

But a yachtsman made the grim discovery off West Mersea at 1.45pm this afternoon. Police later confirmed it was the body of missing sailor Paul Cook, 69, from Cambridge.

The find comes after West Mersea lifeboat had resumed the search for the missing man today, and his son had travelled to the area to help in the operation.

The alarm was first raised yesterday when the yacht was found after running aground.

An investigation revealed that the yacht left a marina south of Colchester yesterday morning for a day of sailing. The skipper is known to have made entries in his log suggesting the weather had become rough and he intended to return home.

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Thames Coastguard called West Mersea, Bradwell and Clacton Coastguard Rescue Teams to assist in a land-based search and also requested the launch of Walton, Clacton and West Mersea RNLI lifeboats.

RAF Rescue Helicopter 125 was also scrambled from Wattisham to assist in the search.

Simon Milnes, watch manager for Thames Coastguard, said the search efforts were called off this morning, with little hope remaining for the skipper.

“The yacht went aground under full sail. The last entry in the log book was made some four hours earlier,” he said.

“The log suggested the skipper had made it to the Wallett Spitway marker buoy and was heading back. The yacht's self-steering mechanism was in operation and the yacht was still on course when it reached land.