A lone sailor who lost everything when his yacht sank in the North Sea has been given a temporary home by a Wortham couple who are aiming to raise £25,000 to help him get back on his feet.
Julian Mustoe, who is 82, was due to sail from the Shetland Islands to Bergen in Norway earlier this month in his 25 foot yacht.
But when his boat’s steering gear failed he then needed to be towed to safety. It was during the tow that the Harrier of Down — his home for nearly eleven years and had travelled some 35,000 miles — sank 300 metres to the bottom of the sea.
“It was like watching an old friend drown,” he told the Diss Express.
“The top rope snapped, and down she went, and I watched her go. It was a sad and sobering experience.
“Without Harrier I was homeless, nearly destitute, and a shipwrecked sailor.”
It was like watching an old friend drownJulian Mustoe
Mr Mustoe, who was a Second World War evacuee, arrived at Diss rail station on Saturday, and is currently staying at the home of Wortham residents Edward and Sue Coales. Confident his yacht would be towed to safety, he lost the majority of his possessions, apart from his credit card and passport. He had to borrow clothes, and had even lost his shoes in the incident, and admits he does not know what went wrong.
Mrs Coales said: “There he was at Diss station, holding just an emergency yellow grab bag and a carrier bag. He was on the platform in borrowed clothes that had been given to him by the Norwegian coastguard, limping because he was sore and the shoes were too small.
“I appreciated the gravity of this. He was going to be utterly devastated and the shock would be awful. It would be like your house being burned down.”
Mr Coales said: “We were very touched by the fact Julian wanted to come to us.
“I emailed as soon as I heard Julian was being towed to Bergen.”
An online Crowdfunding campaign launched in the past week has already seen more than 90 people pledge a total of £3,000 towards the £25,000 target.
“I am profoundly grateful,” said Mr Mustoe.
“It is astonishing that so many people will come to my help. It is marvellous.
“The world isn’t such a bad place.
“I am so grateful to these kind people for taking me in.”
Harrier of Down was built and bought in Argentina in October 2004, three years into Mr Mustoe’s circumnavigation of the world between 2001 and 2012. The first Harrier had become shipwrecked seven months previous.
The account of his journey has been chronicled in his book, Voyage of the Harrier, which was released in August.
Mr Mustoe was due to sail from the Shetland Islands to Bergen in Norway, 200 miles away on Saturday, October 3. It was his plan to spend the summer of next year in the Baltic Sea, visiting the cities and towns associated with the medieval Hanseatic League.
But on the Wednesday, Mr Mustoe realised the steering gear had failed. Mr Mustoe explained this was not due to the weather, despite other reports in the media.
Radioing an oil industry ship, the Prospector, he enquired to see whether his yacht could be towed to safety by the Shetland lifeboat, 100 miles away.
Through the night Harrier of Down drifted downwind in safety, albeit not under control, nearing the Alwyn North gas platform. The next morning, a Norwegian patrol boat, the KV Bergen, offered to tow the Harrier to Norway, provided he left the boat.
It was in the late afternoon following a deep sleep, he was awoken to be told his home was sinking.
Mr Mustoe admits he does not know what the future holds. He has been offered a stay on a boat in Ramsgate during the winter, but said that would only be temporary.
“I don’t think my mind has settled down really. It was only a week ago that these troubles happened. So I think I will let my mind sort itself out a bit before I try and find an answer as to what to do next.
“It would be easy to make foolish decisions now.”
n To donate to the Crowdfunding page, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/harrierappeal