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Captain Calamity rescued

PUBLISHED: 16:48 23 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THE sailor dubbed Captain Calamity has spoken about how he has lost all his money, his business and possibly his home after his quest to sail solo around Britain came to a dramatic end.

THE sailor dubbed Captain Calamity has spoken about how he has lost all his money, his business and possibly his home after his quest to sail solo around Britain came to a dramatic end.

Stuart Hill, from Manningtree, survived for about an hour in stormy seas after his boat capsized 50 miles off the coast of the Shetlands on Tuesday night. He was plucked from the sea by a rescue helicopter and taken to hospital with hypothermia.

His home-made 14ft boat, Maximum Exposure, is still drifting in the Atlantic – and Mr Hill cannot afford to hire a boat to bring her back.

"It represents absolutely everything I had. I put all my money into the project and now all my dreams are in the Atlantic," he said.

"My last 30p was on the boat. All I have are the clothes I'm standing up in. Unfortunately my business collapsed three weeks after I started out on the project and I'm not sure I've got a home to go back to," he said.

Mr Hill, who had been operational director of an internet firm, was hoping to raise £20,000 for charity and prove his boat was unsinkable and self-righting from any position.

But a storm off the west coast of the Shetlands put paid to his voyage. He was 52 miles off the coast, surrounded by 21ft waves, when in a flash his dream trip became a nightmare.

"I got a really big wave from the side which rolled me onto my back. The boat was designed to recover, but to my surprise it didn't."

He tried to right the boat from underneath and from on top but he was forced to admit defeat and sent out an SOS.

About an hour later he was winched to safety aboard a coastguard helicopter and taken to hospital suffering from mild shock and suspected mild hypothermia.

His sailing antics have seen him affectionately known as Captain Calamity. His first two attempts to set off on his adventurous voyage ending in mishaps.

He became a figure of fun.

But after setting off for the third time from Southwold on July 21, it looked as if Mr Hill weas going to make it as he made slow but steady progress up the east coast of England and then to Scotland and the most northerly point in Britain.

Respect grew for the man, even though he said last week that the official line from coastguards was "I shouldn't be doing this."

Now he said the time is for reflection, he will sort himself out and see what he will do next, he added.

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