Want to read more?
We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device. In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.
Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).
technical support? Click here
Richard Kerswell, a 74-year-old retiree from the pub trade, is making a solo trip around Britain in his yacht Pegasus, ‘Peggy’, for third world charities.
Both faced their greatest tests so far through the world’s third largest whirlpool, the Gulf of Corryvreckan, and nearly running out of fuel on their way to the UK’s remotest island, St Kilda.
Richard’s feat is fundraising for two charities dear to his heart: Give the World a Shot, which provides Covid vaccinations for third world countries, and Orphans in the Wild, which supports orphans and families devastated by HIV and Aids in Mufindi, Tanzania.
‘I had an absolutely fantastic childhood in Tanzania, then Tanganyika, and would dearly like to give something back,’ he explained on his webpage on www.peoplesfundraising.com, called Richard and Peggy’s Magic Roundabout.
Richard’s solo journey began on June 24 in Penzance, Cornwall, before moving up the west coast to St Ives, Milford Haven, Solva, Dinllaen, Caenarfon, Puffin Island, and, by now short of fuel, a stop on the Isle of Man to fill up his tanks.
However, he was refused entry to the island, where only fully-vaccinated people could travel freely between it and the rest of the UK, because the only person who could check his proof of double inoculation sat in Douglas, 25 miles’ sail away from his berth.
Luckily a couple of good samaritans rowed out a can of petrol, plus a loaf of bread, so Richard could venture across the Irish Sea to Belfast city ‘to see if the Irish girls are pretty’, he wrote in a poem describing the episode.
On the way, he saw ‘something very large disturb the surface’ – ‘possibly a small whale’, he surmised.
After a few days’ rest in the Northern Ireland capital, Richard crossed back over into Scottish waters on July 11, past the Isle of Arran to Largs, where, thanks to friends, he replenished galley supplies in a supermarket and fixed the rudder.
Three days later Richard progressed up the Kyles of Bute, passing the paddle steamer PS Waverley, to the Crinan Canal and a peaceful night at Cairnbaan, before both he and Peggy faced their most perilous test yet: the maelstrom in the Gulf of Corryvreckan between Jura and Scarba.
‘It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth, and one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles. Do keep safe Richard,’ wrote one wellwisher on his Facebook page Pegasuses Places, before giving this update: ‘He arrived at Corryvreckan, found the whirlpool, he had a good reconnoitre and made his decision.
‘The tide was probably at its strongest as he got there, but it was a pretty calm day and went through the middle, as Richard would.
‘He said it threw his aft about but said one has to do these things. I think we shall all give a big sigh of relief, especially me as he said he was going to do it.’
Victorious, Richard sheltered in Loch Spelve off the Isle of Mull, before setting sail for Iona, Eigg, Rum and Loch Harport near Carbost on Skye, spotting a pod of bottlenose dolphins en route.
However, fuel supplies were running critically low again, this time for a longed-for trip out to St Kilda.
‘I now badly need a run ashore for fuel,’ Richard pleaded on his Facebook page: ‘Down to about four gallons on the boat. Thirty-two gallons used from Crinan Canal. If anyone is near me on Skye, I’m by the Talisker Distillery.’
A sensible place to wait for rescue one would think, and soon another good samaritan arrived in the form of Ladislav Kovarik, who drove Richard to the other side of Skye to the Portree Filling Station and back.
‘The garage owner gave him a spare five-gallon can which Richard filled, so that topped him up with 17 gallons,’ a Facebook post updated on July 22.
‘He says he is having an amazing time, meeting amazing people, and seeing some awesome scenery. The Cuilllin mountains look like they are out of the Lord or the Rings.’
After a quick stop and photoshoot in Dunvegan, Richard moved up the Sound of Harris, setting his sights on St Kilda.
‘Ok, checked forecast near Harris,’ he wrote on July 26: ‘It’s a go.’
Finally, over 800 nautical miles and a month away from home, Richard reached a distant goal.
‘Low cloud and mist,’ he reported: ‘Saw loads of seals, but no dolphins. A puffin panicked getting out of the way of Peggy. He swam away under water.’
From there, Richard and Peggy will continue to Thurso, Orkney, Fair Isle and Shetland, before coming back down the east coast. So far Richard has raised over £1,000.