A Norwegian couple, who were found on a dismasted yacht 250km off the south coast early yesterday morning, are being towed back to shore by the Navy.

The couple, aged in their late 60s, were expected to reach dry land in Castletownbere by 6.30pm.

The couple were en route from the Azores to the Shetlands Island when the mast on their 30ft yacht, the Alice 2, broke.

They were initially found by a French fishing vessel who saw their distress flare after a day without the mast.

Speaking to RTÉ's News At One, Lt Commander Erica Downing of the LE Aoife, which is towing the yacht to shore, said the couple were in good form in spite of their ordeal.

She said the couple were extremely lucky to be spotted by the French trawler having not seen any traffic on their voyage for the 14 days previously.

Speaking on the same programme, the couple said they were afraid and nervous when the yacht's mast broke and were unsure if they will ever return to the vessel.

The couple said they were extremely relieved and happy when the Navy came to their rescue.