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Yacht survives after storm

By West Briton  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

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A YACHT which is a family's home on Thursday survived being torn from her moorings in gale force winds and thrown against a harbour wall.

Iona's owners, who plan to set off from St Mawes on a three-year worldwide voyage next month, were checking on her every 20 minutes.

But as the couple and their children, aged 10 years and 10 months, sat for dinner, a villager told them the boat they had moved their belongings to days earlier was adrift.

Musician and film director Chris Whittingham watched helplessly as his family's lovingly repaired twin-masted ketch drifted towards the land and crashed against the harbour wall with no one aboard.

On Friday morning's high tide fishermen Peter and Andrew Green and their crew tried to refloat the Iona, with help from Ken Dunstan, from Mylor Marine, and his son Joe, Julien Davey and his staff from Pascoes Boat Yard in St Just, Mark Bower, from St Mawes Kayaks, and assistant harbour master Peter Buckle. But storm surges had pushed her too far up the beach.

A Macsalvors crane and tug boats eased the yacht free on Friday evening's high tide, with Roseland Marine's Robin Edwards dashing up the rigging to free a caught hook and avert a second disaster.

Mr Whittingham was astonished to find no water had breached the yacht and the ordeal caused no structural damage. "If she had been holed she would have been a write-off," said the 47-year-old. "She's survived but some more modern boats wouldn't have and haven't in the past.

"It isn't about the money – she's our home and as far as we're concerned she's irreplaceable so it's a relief."

Iona is being repaired at Falmouth boatyard.

Mr Whittingham, who is in alternative folk band Ruby Throat with his partner Katie Jane Garside, has said a "huge thank you" to the village of St Mawes for its support and to everyone who helped with the rescue.

He has also praised "outstanding" marine surveyor and assessor for the boat's insurance company David Cox, parish clerk Shirley Penhaligon, for letting them go ahead with the rescue, and the Macsalvors' team.

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