Young girl motors Achilles 24 to find help as father collapses

An 11 year old girl safely brought her family boat safely home after her father collapsed from gallstone pancreatitis while at anchor in Chichester Harbour.

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, Hayling Island, and had been planning to do some

spinnaker practice off the Nab Tower.

As the tide rose, they climbed back on

board when Matthew became aware of a pain in his chest – which

he recognized as probably gallstone-related. The pain increased (later

being diagnosed as as gallstone pancreatitis), and he got worse and became incapacitated.

Unity took over, and decided to return to Emsworth as

fast as possible. As soon as the anchor was up, she brought the boat to Emsworth under engine.

Unity brought the boat to the Emsworth town pontoon, avoiding other traffic

as she had been taught but had never had to do alone, and phoned her

mother.  ‘He’s still breathing – I can hear him groaning,’ her mother heard her say.


spent the next couple of weeks in hospital recovering, returning later

for an operation.

 More on this story: Emsworth Sailing Club