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’
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 five-year 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.’
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Sea Wraith is now ‘pretty well dried out’, taken to the top of the slipway and tied to a wall. Richard is 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.’
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.’