Captain Calamity all at sea again

ONCE dubbed Captain Calamity after being rescued seven times as he attempted to sail around the UK in a home-made boat, Stuart Hill thought his days of keeping the coastguard busy were over.

Annie Davidson

ONCE dubbed Captain Calamity after being rescued seven times as he attempted to sail around the UK in a home-made boat, Stuart Hill thought his days of keeping the coastguard busy were over.

But old habits die hard and the 65-year-old, who repeatedly made the headlines during his ill-fated 2001 adventure, has once again been saved at sea.

Mr Hill, who lived in Claydon, near Ipswich, before moving to Manningtree, got into difficulty on Sunday night after a second homemade boat came to grief in the Sound of Papa in Shetland - and he was plucked to safety by a lifeboat directed to him by a coastguard helicopter.


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It was a case of déjà vu for Mr Hill, who has remained on Shetland since his fateful voyage in 2001 and recently moved onto a tiny island called Forvik, off the Shetland coast which he intends to declare independent from the British government and the European Union.

Mr Hill said: “Calling the emergency services was the last thing I wanted to do.”

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He added: “What I am trying to do [on the island] is serious in trying to attempt to change the status of Shetland and the last thing I wanted to do was for that to be demeaned by the Captain Calamity label.

“The emergency services gave a very professional service for which I was very grateful.”

Mr Hill's boat has been found on a beach completely buried in sand except for the top six inches. He is planning to dig it out on Friday and said he expected it would still be seaworthy.

His initial round-Britain challenge in 2001 became the topic of ridicule from the press and irritation from coastguards.

The attempt ended when his boat Maximum Exposure was lost to the Atlantic Ocean and Mr Hill was airlifted to hospital with hypothermia after an hour in stormy seas 52 miles west of Shetland.

During his ill-fated voyage his internet business had collapsed and his wife sold the family home and moved to France alone, so Mr Hill decided to set up home where he was.

For a time he stayed at the local Fisherman's Mission and worked at a fish factory and it seemed his sailing adventures were over.

Sunday's incident happened when the father-of-two was moving his boat into a more sheltered area after a storm blew up. It became swamped with water which also stopped the engines working.

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

The 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.

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