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Captains Calamity - Not in MY Navy

by Des Ryan on 16 Sep 2008
Stuart Hill Captain Calamity .. .
There are some sailors who just can't keep out of trouble, and Stuart Hill - the Essex man who settled in the Shetland Isles of Scotland after he hit the headlines having to be saved multiple times while trying to circumnavigate Britain in a rowboat - seems to be one of them. He has just been saved again.

He was again rescued in heavy seas off Shetland late on Sunday night after his home-made boat, shaped like a landing craft, was swamped by large waves that stalled both its engines.

He alerted the emergency services at 10.30pm on Sunday night, telling Shetland coastguard that he was drifting without engines in a boat full of water.

The Sumburgh-based coastguard helicopter and Aith lifeboat were launched and Mr Hill was picked up by the crew of the lifeboat and taken ashore just after midnight.

A coastguard spokesman said the Sound of Papa was a treacherous place to be in a small boat. Mr Hill was sitting in the boat 'clinging to nothing' when they found him and had a mobile telephone and a GPS system to alert the emergency services.

Hel said he was trying to shift his boat to a more sheltered area when he got into trouble, adding: 'My reasoning was that if I could get it into smoother water I could bale it out, get it safe so that I could get back in it to the Shetland
mainland at a later stage.

'But in fact the waves completely swamped it, and filled it to a point where the water couldn't get out as quickly as it was coming in. At that point, the engines were too low in the water and got water in them.'

Hill's earlier infamy stemmed from his attempting to circumnavigate the British isles in a 15ft converted rowing boat. He prompted seven rescue call-outs during the trip in the summer of 2001 and decided to stay in Shetland after being found clinging to the hull of his boat in 20ft-high seas. A helicopter winched him off the capsized boat. He later said he had done well to get as far as he did.

BUT - Stuart Hill is not the only Captain Calamity to make headlines over the years. There are several others:

Banned from sailing - Glenn Crawley:

Last year UK Newquay harbourmaster Derek Aunger banned Glenn Crawley, skipper of a yacht appropriately called Mischief, from sailing, until he could prove competency. Aunger - who before the meeting labelled Crawley 'a bloody menace' and vowed not to let his boat 'anywhere near Newquay' - said later that the sailor had shown some contrition. (click http://www.sail-world.com/news.cfm?Nid=36721&SRCID=7&RequestTimeOut=180&hasFlash=1!here!same).

Conditions were seemingly ideal when the 52-year-old set off for his final misadventure which proved the last straw. Disaster struck some time before 12:50pm on a Sunday, in calm weather, on a flat sea.

Members of the public spotted an overturned boat in Newquay Bay and a man floundering in the sea. A three-man lifeboat team was launched, and within minutes rescuers had helped Crawley to right the boat, a virtually impossible task to perform single-handedly since it is designed for a crew of at least two.

It was just the latest in a series of near misses; logs at a local lifeboat station of incidents involving Crawley bore the headline 'him again'. On one occasion he was found swimming to shore after abandoning his boat in the surf; on another, he was saved four times in four hours.

Lifeboatmen had finally had enough of Glenn Crawley.


The Road-Map Sailor, Eric Abbott:

Eric Abbott promised to learn to learn how to navigate after he repeatedly got lost trying to navigate the Irish sea using AA road maps. In 1999 his rescues cost coastguards an estimated £55,000.








Swedish mariner Erik Ramgren:

Erik Ramgren, a 67-year-old Swede with no navigational experience, joined the ranks of foolhardy mariners when the Guardian discovered him marooned off the coast of Norfolk in 2005, his voyage from Scandinavia to the Caribbean in a homemade boat in tatters. Some 18 months later it emerged he had reached his tropical destination, overcoming storms, burglary and damage to his boat.






and then there was the greatest Captain Calamity of them all....

Tony Bullimore:

Tony Bullimore abandoned his much publicised attempt to set a round-the-world record last year after just 10 days. He lost communications sailing to the start line while in the Indian Ocean, and when he finally arrived in Hobart his catamaran hit the jetty, sending one of his crew into the sea.

The 69-year-old is as famed for his tenacity as his mishaps: in 1997 he survived for five days in an upturned boat on 'a little chocolate, water, and sheer determination' after his yacht capsized in the Southern Ocean. It was the longest range rescue ever undertaken by the Australian Navy.

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