Junior Club member Unity Bowns, 11, has been nominated for the RYA Regional Young Sailor of the Year Award for ‘Courage and Fortitude in an Emergency’.

Unity and her father, Matthew, were at anchor aboard their Achilles 24, dried out in Mill Rythe and ready to go and do some spinnaker practice off the Nab later.

As the tide rose, they had walked round the boat and climbed back on board when Matthew became acutely aware of a pain in his chest – which he recognized as probably gallstone-related. The pain increased (later being diagnosed as as gallstone pancreatitis). Weighing anchor and starting the outboard were tricky as Matthew was fast becoming incapacitated.

Matthew quickly got worse and collapsed on the cabin sole.

At this stage, Unity took over. She decided to return to Emsworth as fast as possible. As soon as the anchor was aweigh, she put the outboard into gear and started to motor for home.

Unity brought the boat back to the town pontoon, avoiding other traffic as she had been taught but had never had to do alone, and phoned her mother, Rachel. ‘He’s still breathing – I can hear him groaning,’ Rachel heard her say.

As soon as they were alongside, Matthew was quickly taken by Nick Taylor, an ESC member, to St Richard’s for emergency admission. He spent the next couple of weeks in hospital recovering, returning later for an operation.

Unity and her mother then took the boat home to her berth in the marina.







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