PBO’s Dave Selby, who is battling a rare nerve illness, won a tense race against time to sail his 18ft Sailfish to London before his legs gave way.

Essex sailor Dave, 57, is sailing more than 300 miles to put his boat, Marlin, on display at the Southampton Boat Show to encourage more people to get afloat and raise money for the charity that funds research into his illness.

Dave, who has a viral condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, set off from Maldon in mid-July on the 100-mile first leg to Limehouse, London.

He said: ‘I’ve got a wall-planner that says `legs,’ `no legs,’ and poor winds meant time was getting tight. I just got to London in the nick of time.’

Marlin’s Mission aims to encourage more people to take up the sport of sailing.

Dave added: ‘I bought my small boat for £2,000 in 2004 and it’s given me holidays of a life-time and opened up a world of adventure. In fact, in the current market you can get afloat for a lot less.

‘There’s an ever-growing fleet of great, small, second-hand fibre-glass boats and they’re getting cheaper all the time. Sailing has never been more accessible.’

Another driving force of Marlin’s Mission is to raise money for the Guillain-Barré charity (www.gaincharity.org.uk). Dave explained: ‘It’s an illness that affects the peripheral nervous system, and I’ve got an even rarer variant called CIDP, which means the messages stop getting through to my legs about every four and a half weeks. Then I go into hospital for three days and antibodies from the blood of 800 donors literally give me legs for another month. Humbling.’

After his three days in hospital and a further week to recuperate Dave is sailing on to Southampton in small hops as health, time and weather allow, to arrive for the opening of the show on September 16.

At the show he’s hosting a series of talks to demonstrate how to buy a boat and get sailing on a modest budget, as well as hosting practical demonstrations with PBO.

You can follow Dave’s progress on Twitter @ImpracticalBoat and support his charity drive at www.justgiving.com/Dave-Selby-Marlins-Mission.