The story ...
I have pasted the draft copy of the story below (I think the finished version was edited slightly for space).
In my 20’s a colleague persuaded me to help
move a boat from Portsmouth to Plymouth.
I was envisaging a comfy leisurely sail but when I
saw the dirty, badly fouled and damp ‘yacht’ my
heart plummeted. No sooner had we dragged
the bedding outside to dry than the Harbour
Master asked us to leave – the absent owner
hadn’t paid his fees.
‘With no working engine to move the 7m yacht from
the harbour we improvised. We tied flippers
onto 2 lumps of wood and paddled at 2 miles
a fortnight while everyone in the harbour office
‘At our first stop in Ryde, we were directed
to what we were told was a deep-water mooring.
But returning from a well-earned
bite, we discovered the tide had dropped, the
boat had fallen over and our clothes were
soaked in bilge water. We slept on the balcony
of the yacht club.
‘Next evening, navigating only by the maps in
a pocket diary as there were no charts on board,
we arrived at Portland Bill in the dark.
A naval exercise was in progress and
we had no navigation lights – just a couple of
torches. There were no flares and no radio.
‘Eventually - having managed to shred the
rotten sails and staunch 2 major leaks -
we reached Plymouth but,
looking back now, perhaps we were lucky to
have survived. Today, I’d take one look at that
yacht and run.
‘However, the experience helped to
formulate my thinking in sea safety. When
you’re sailing along in the sunshine you don’t
think about sea safety but, at night, trying to
dodge war ships, you feel pretty vulnerable.’
Ian Wilson is Oban’s RNLI Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer and has been
sailing since he was 10 years old. However, there’s one sailing
experience he does not wish to repeat …