Sailor resting at home after drama
PUBLISHED: 04:40 18 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:40 03 March 2010
ROBERT Murphy is resting at his Cheshire home today after leaping from his burning yacht eight miles off Felixstowe.
Mr Murphy, 53, was forced to abandon his £30,000 wooden motor cruiser after discovering heavy smoke in the engine room.
By JOANNE CONSTABLE
SAILOR Robert Murphy today relived the drama of having to leap from his burning yacht eight miles off Felixstowe.
Mr Murphy was forced to abandon his £30,000 wooden motor cruiser after discovering heavy smoke in the engine room.
But the shocked and shaken father-of-two has not been put off sailing or buying another boat.
The blaze, which eventually sank his 31-foot yacht Little World, started at about 5pm on Tuesday last week.
The 53-year-old from Great Sutton, Cheshire, said: "I was in the Pennyhill Bay on my own and had been out for a few hours when I saw smoke coming from the engine compartment.
"I lifted up the opening to it, and found the engine room full of smoke. I called the coastguard, then threw my lifeboat over the side and jumped in."
He was stranded in his inflatable life raft until he was rescued by the crew of the Harwich fishing boat Bonny Lass.
The Harwich inshore lifeboat team then took Mr Murphy from the fishing vessel so that he could be taken ashore for medical attention.
He was uninjured but said he was shocked and shaken by the dramatic rescue and spent the evening in accommodation in Walton.
However Mr Murphy said he did not contact his family that night to tell them that his prized boat, which he had owned for around three years, was a burnt wreck lying on the sea bed with some of his clothes and sentimental items trapped inside.
He did finally tell his family – wife Diane and sons Andrew, 24, and Stuart, 28 – of his ordeal when he arrived home the next day.
"I did not want to worry them," he said, adding: "There is nothing they could have done anyway. It was all over in about half an hour."
The rescue operation was led by the Thames Coastguard based at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex.
The Harwich all-weather lifeboat was joined by the fire tugs Deben and Grey Vixen, both from Felixstowe, in fighting the flames. But due to fire damage, Mr Murphy's boat sank two hours later.
He said: "It has definitely not put me off going on the water again." Mr Murphy added that he might get another boat, and moor it in the same place, as he liked the East Anglian coast.
Mr Murphy thanked all the rescuers who helped him and tried to douse his boat, and thanked the fishing crew who picked him up.
"I don't know who they are. They just came, helped me and went," he said.