Re­stored project boat sinks within min­utes of first launch

A pen­sioner whose yacht sank within min­utes of be­ing placed in the wa­ter fol­low­ing a five-year restora­tion says it has been ‘a won­der­ful ad­ven­ture’

Practical Boat Owner - - News -

Scots­man Richard Ogilvy has bounced back from al­most los­ing his beloved yacht to the bot­tom of Burghead Har­bour.

The 75-year-old is stay­ing sur­pris­ingly pos­i­tive after the 40ft Sea Wraith sank within min­utes of be­ing placed in the wa­ter, fol­low­ing a fiveyear restora­tion project in his gar­den. Richard, a for­mer forester, who has since raised the yacht with the sup­port of the fish­ing com­mu­nity, told PBO: ‘I’m hav­ing a won­der­ful ad­ven­ture. Every­body has been so good, and the boat has come up so well. It has been a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: I’m as happy as a sand­boy.’

Sea Wraith, orig­i­nally called Zeegeist, was built in 1936 to train Ger­man of­fi­cer cadets to sail be­fore be­ing taken over and sold by the Royal Navy. Richard bought the wooden yacht 15 years ago from a pri­vate owner in Lon­don and, since 2013, has worked up to eight hours a day to re­store Sea Wraith to her for­mer glory, at a cost (in­clud­ing the pur­chase price) of an es­ti­mated £13,000.

Scram­ble to safety

On Satur­day, 24 June, Richard and his son Jonathan, 45, launched Sea Wraith at Burghead Har­bour on the Mo­ray Firth, only to be forced to scram­ble to safety when the yacht sank in 12ft of wa­ter.

Richard, of nearby For­res, ended up hang­ing off a nearby fish­ing boat. He said: ‘The boat had been sit­ting on its keel for 20-odd years. I failed to recog­nise that once the slings came off and she went in the wa­ter, 3.5 tonnes of lead would sud­denly be hang­ing. Some­thing pretty big opened up down there and the wa­ter came gush­ing in. She was go­ing down faster than we could han­dle. We man­aged to pull her to the side, and for­tu­nately she sank and leant against the jetty, although I was left hang­ing on to the guardrail of a trawler for dear life.’

Sea Wraith is now ‘pretty well dried out’, taken to the top of the slip­way and tied to a wall. At the time of go­ing to press, Richard was hop­ing to take her out on the next spring tide to Hopeman, two miles east, where he can keep her on the jetty un­til a berth be­comes avail­able.

After a fort­night of sleep­ing on board to pre­vent any fur­ther sink­ings, Richard re­turned home to his wife of 54 years, 72-year-old Su­san.

He told PBO: ‘I slept at home for the first night in a fort­night: I’ve been sleep­ing on the boat, mon­i­tor­ing a fire pump. Ev­ery time she floated off with the ris­ing tide, I put the fire pump on.’

Com­mu­nity spirit

He added: ‘Sea Wraith is the fourth tra­di­tional wooden yacht I’ve been in­volved with. I lost a few things when she sank, in­clud­ing my mo­bile phone, and the bat­tery was burnt out with salt wa­ter. Although flooded, the en­gine has since been restarted. I give my­self a year to get her sail­ing. The goal is to sail her to the Port­soy Tra­di­tional Boat Fes­ti­val, which I had been plan­ning to visit this year.’

Richard told PBO that since the sink­ing, the prawn fish­er­men and trawler­men in the work­ing har­bour had been ‘so help­ful and sup­port­ive, and con­tinue to be so.’

He said: ‘I now feel quite a part of the fish­ing com­mu­nity. They give me quite a rib­bing be­cause of all the re­porters and cam­era­men who come around like I’m a celebrity.

‘I try very hard to do some­thing use­ful with this life, but I’ll al­ways be known as the arse who sank his boat in the har­bour.’

The launch of Sea Wraith

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