<strong>London:</strong> The family of former England pace bowler Gladstone Small had a miraculous escape, and are safely back in England, following their boat sinking after it being hit by a whale in the Atlantic Ocean. Zachary Small, 33, his daughters and partner were reportedly rescued from a sinking boat when it was hit by the giant mammal during the night, said a report in lbc.co.uk. The encounter with the whale left a gaping hole in the boat and Zachary and his partner Kim Pelletier Girard, 29, kept the boat, which had his daughters Anua (8), Willow (5) and dog Nala, afloat, according to the report. <p></p> <p></p>The five were rescued the next day following a plane spotting them and a tanker arriving on the scene after diverting from its course. <p></p> <p></p>Gladstone played 17 Tests between 1986 and 1991, and was part of the England side that won the 1986-87 Ashes series. <p></p> <p></p>Zachary and his family were forced to leave their belongings behind, "including the ashes of his late wife, and mother to his children, Rosie, who died three years ago from breast cancer", said the report. <p></p> <p></p>The report added that Zachary is an experienced sailor, who sold his house in France in 2021 and purchased a Wadvogel38 catamaran. "Since then, Small, a carpenter by trade, had been sailing with his family around the coast of Portugal," the report added. <p></p> <p></p>When water rose to waist height, Zachary activated the distress call, "which is sent out to the nearest coastguard and any ship within a 6-10 mile range". <p></p> <p></p>"It was at this point the horror of our situation and what might happen... hit hard," said Zachary. <p></p> <p></p>"Three hours after the boat began to sink, Small noticed the spotter plane. Small said he knew that it would take around 30 hours for a ship to reach them from Azores, so the family had to keep fighting to keep the boat afloat. If they were to get into the dinghy, it would be harder for their rescuers to find them. Finally, at around 4.30am, the family saw the ship's light in the horizon. As their rescue ship approached, Small, his two daughters, his partner, and the dog, scrambled into the dinghy to paddle towards the tanker," said the report.