'Captain Calamity' making waves...in EU

DUBBED Captain Calamity, Stuart Hill attempted and failed three times to sail around Britain in a tiny home-made boat. But he is determined to succeed in his latest - and very different - venture.

Anthony Bond

DUBBED Captain Calamity, Stuart Hill attempted and failed three times to sail around Britain in a tiny home-made boat.

On his third and final voyage in 2001, the former Claydon resident capsized off the west coast of the Shetland Islands.

His boat was lost to the Atlantic along with his final 30p. But that was not the worst of it. His internet business collapsed and his wife sold their home and moved to France. He was not invited to join her.

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But seven years on, the 65-year-old grandfather is back with a new project. Put simply, he wants to bring down the European Union.

Having remained on Shetland since his fateful voyage, he recently moved onto a 2.5 acre island called Forvik off the Shetland coast which he intends to declare independent from the British government and the European Union.

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He plans to print his own stamps, raise his own flag and even mint his own currency. And he is hoping that other Shetlanders will follow and break away from the UK.

“I have discovered more and more since being here that for years and years there has been a basic abuse of trust by the British government on the people of Shetland,” claimed Mr Hill, who has a son and daughter still living in East Anglia.

“The Government and the Crown have assumed ownership that they never legally acquired and they would need to have ownership to incorporate Shetland into Scotland, the UK and Europe.

“It just seemed to me that it was time to challenge the whole situation.”

With 30ft cliffs on one side and a beach on the other, the only official current resident on Forvik is Mr Hill and his tent. He is currently in the process of building a 5m x 5m building and is inviting people to become citizens and landowners free of income tax, VAT and other UK taxes.

But following his previous nautical escapades, and the unfortunate Captain Calamity nickname, can he really be taken seriously?

“Some people on the outside think it is a publicity stunt but it is not - it is a serious attempt to bring to people's attention that the constitutional position of Shetland is not what it should be and I hope that the rest of Shetland follow Forvik's example.

“If people in other countries see that Shetland finds it possible to opt out of the European Union then hopefully other countries will find it possible to follow. I am looking for the break-up of the European Union.”

On July 21, 2001, Mr Hill set off from Southwold in his 14ft boat Maximum Exposure with the aim of sailing around Britain.

His first two attempts ended in mishaps, which made him a figure of fun in the media and led to him being criticised by lifeboatmen.

But third time around he seemed to be fairing much better until he became trapped in fierce winds on the west coast of Shetland and capsized. He had to be rescued by a coastguard helicopter and was taken to hospital with mild hypothermia and shock.

But since then he has not looked back and has started a new life in the Shetlands.

“I had nothing to come back for really,” he said. “Just before I landed my wife told me that she had sold the house and was moving to France and did not want me to go with her. So I had no wife, no home to go back too and the internet company that I was running collapsed.

“I found that in contrast to the ridicule that I experienced in the press on the way up here, who treated me as some kind of incompetent fool, people in Shetland knew what I had achieved on the boat and I found it very welcoming.

“I decided some years ago that I was going to live until 117 and on the day that I arrived in Shetland I was almost 58-and-a-half and it seemed to me to be a crossroads and the second half of my life was about to start. How many people are given a chance at that stage of life to look at a blank canvas and say 'now what can I do with the second-half with all the experience that I have?”

He added: “Every pensioner should do this. I just feel completely alive. Why sit on the couch and wait to die when you can do something worthwhile?”

His website, www.forvik.com, will go live on Saturday.

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