The yacht was worth tens of thousands of pounds.

The hopes of a yacht owner were cruelly dashed when he learned his vessel had been sunk by the Irish navy just before he claimed it.

The yacht, Troll, had sailed alone for 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from Bermuda before being spotted off the coast of the UK.

Thomas Mallanut, from Germany, had to abandon his 25ft boat when his wife became seriously ill.

Almost a year later, he was contacted to say that the boat had been spotted and Mr Mallanut hurried to Cornwall where a local man, David Chidwell, had offered to help recover the ship.

However, when he arrived, Mr Mallanut discovered that his yacht had been boarded and sunk by the Irish navy who considered it a danger to shipping.

Cornish coast

Mr Chidell, of Mylor Bridge, near Truro, said: “It’s a sad end to the story because I had been hoping to help Tom find his yacht as it drifted past the Cornish coast.

“I can’t believe it had travelled 2,700 miles in 10 months, and it could have drifted north towards Greenland last winter. It’s incredible it survived.

“Tom never wanted to abandon his yacht but he had no choice – his wife became very ill. She was unable to drink or eat. She couldn’t keep it down.

“He had to put out an appeal for rescue and a tanker then came to their aid,” Mr Chidwell told The Telegraph.

“He had to decide whether to stay with his seriously ill wife or with the boat. He decided to stay with his wife.”

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