Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has been reunited with a compass that went missing off his boat in 1969 by the widow of the man who stole it.
The 32ft (9.8 m) Bermudan ketch Suhaili was on display in Rochdale shortly after Sir Robin returned from his record-setting global circumnavigation in 1969 when the vessel compass, binnacle and mounting went missing.
Now 53 years later, it has turned up at Holyhead and brought to the museum, where the archivist contacted Sir Robin, who is pleased to see its return and has agreed to have it on display at the museum before he comes to collect it.
Sir Robin said: “The widow/divorcee handed it in to the Holyhead Maritime Museum and the archivist contacted me via my website and told me it had been left with them with a short note saying her husband had stolen it 53 years before.
“I asked him to send me a photo and immediately recognised it.
“I am very grateful to the lady as she could have dumped it. It will remain on display at the museum until later in the year when I will drive up to collect it.
“I built the compass when I was building Suhaili in Bombay.
“It is a standard Merchant Navy Lifeboat compass I bought at the shipbreakers in Darukhaner (it means basically Gunpowder factory which must have existed there at some time) in Bombay.
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He added: “It has a bit of slight damage which can be dealt with like the glass of the window is missing and the brass window cover, but that can be put right. (Sounds like a visit to a Boat Jumble coming up!)
“I won’t put it back on board as after this publicity there is bound to be someone who would steal it again, but it’s lovely that it has been found.”
Barry Hillier, a trustee at Holyhead Maritime Museum, said: “We were very surprised to be handed the compass and are grateful to our archivist, Gerry Thomas, who immediately contacted Sir Robin with the good news and to check that it was indeed the compass from the Suhaili.
“We now have have it on display and it has already created much interest with visitors.”
In a description next to the rediscovered compass, the museum describes how: Sir Robin was the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world between 14 June 1968 and 22 April 1969.
His prize when he arrived back on England’s south coast? £5,000.