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Eleven months and 2,500 miles on, abandoned kite boat makes it home

August 12 2006

Anita Guidera

SHE is the world’s toughest little boat and yesterday she was the toast of local fishermen after she travelled a 2,500-mile journey unmanned across the Atlantic to reach the Donegal coast.

Last September when sailor
Dom Mee was forced due to hurricane storms to abandon his attempt to become the first person to cross the Atlantic in a boat powered only by a kite, he thought the purpose-built yellow craft, which had survived five hurricanes, had been lost at sea for good.

But yesterday, the 35year-old former British Royal Marine commando travelled from Britain to Donegal to be reunited with the 14-foot
‘Little Murka’ boat after it was washed up ashore off Malin head 11 months after it had gone adrift when he was rescued by the Canadian coast guard.

An emotional Mr Mee from Taunton, Somerset, said he owed his life to the boat which was capable of braving winds of up to 100 knots and was built to survive the worst ravages of the North Atlantic.

“It’s incredible. I still can’t believe it. She has taken a bit of a battering and is a bit of a sad sight, all covered in barnacles. But I’ll get her afloat again. I owe my life to that boat. She is an old friend,” he said.

The boat was found by lobster fisherman Bernard McLaughlin who was tending his pots off Ireland’s most northerly point on Monday when he spotted what he thought was a drifting jet-ski.

But when he went to investigate he realised it was a highly-customised one-man boat, dubbed the ‘Kite Boat’.

As he attempted to move it, its communications system was activated, alerting its surprised owner to its whereabouts.

Dom was attempting the first-ever kite boat sail across the North Atlantic from St John’s, Canada, to Exmouth, Devon, in August and September last year during one of the worst hurricane seasons in living memory.

After surviving Hurricanes Irene, Katrina, Maria and Ophelia, Rita finally proved too much.

It capsized eight times, and Dom’s cabin filled with water. He spent five hours clinging to the upturned hull, before a wave righted the boat. For a further 24 hours he kept the boat afloat, before he was rescued.

 


Sailor Dom Mee reunited with his craft ‘Little Murka’ at Malin Head in Donegal.                                                   Trevor McBride