Devastated friends pay tribute to Great Yarmouth men feared lost at sea in Lowestoft speedboat tragedy
PUBLISHED: 12:04 13 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:04 13 March 2014
Friends of two men feared dead after a speedboat capsized off the coast at Lowestoft have paid tribute to a “great friend” and a “real character”.
Peter Chambers is believed to have recently returned to his Norfolk roots after living abroad.
Mr Chambers, 43, from Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth, was pronounced dead soon after his body was recovered from the water near Ness Point in Lowestoft on Monday.
Paul Southey, landlord of the Theatre Tavern, where he was an occasional customer, said Mr Chambers had been in a “serious” car accident abroad and had been in hospital for several months, and was using crutches.
Police have not yet been able to trace his next of kin.
East Norfolk fishermen have said the loss of Malcolm Sayer will leave a hole in the close-knit coastal community.
Paul Williams, coxswain of Caister’s independent lifeboat, knew Mr Sayer for 30 years and said he was a keen amateur fisherman and used to have a boat in Caister.
He said: “He wasn’t bothered if he caught anything, he used to just enjoy going fishing. He was always talking about it.”
Mr Sayer, who was aged in his 70s, used to own the Elm Beach Caravan Park in Caister and was a trained carpenter. He was a dad of one – his son did not want to comment at this time. Mr Sayer lived off Northgate Street in Great Yarmouth and was well known for selling fresh herring from Asda car park and on the roadside – some of which he caught himself.
“He was a real character and everybody knew him,” Mr Williams said.
“He was the life and soul of any party in the pub, he’ll be missed.”
Dad of two Andy Porter has been described as a great friend with a heart of gold.
A regular at the Theatre Tavern in Great Yarmouth, he was well known by fellow customers and staff.
Tina Lacey, bar manager, knew Mr Porter from school, having grown up with him in Southtown, and said he was a father to two daughters, the youngest of whom was just a year old. The 47-year-old said: “It’s horrible, I have been so upset. Everyone was in here yesterday but there was no talking.”
Gary Mackenzie was a good friend of Mr Porter, having met him in the pub, and together they were part of a group that would regularly go to the Theatre Tavern and attend karaoke nights on Saturdays. Mr Mackenzie, 48, said: “He was a barrel of laughs and helped anyone out.
“He had a heart of
gold and was a great friend.
“He used to stand at this hatch [by the bar] and everyone who walks in sees him straight away, he’s always had a big smile on his face.”
Mr Porter lived in Admiralty Road.
The men, both from Great Yarmouth, have been named locally as Andy Porter and Malcolm Sayer and were reported missing in the wake of the tragedy on Monday, in which one man is confirmed to have died.
Peter Chambers, 43, from Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth, was pronounced dead about half an hour after his body was recovered from the water near Lowestoft’s Ness Point. He is believed to have been wearing a buoyancy aid rather than a life jacket, and police have not yet been able to trace his next of kin.
Enquiries to find Mr Porter and Mr Sayer are ongoing but rescuers fear the worst after the search operation was called off on Tuesday afternoon, with no further plans to search again. Both men were regular customers at the Theatre Tavern in Great Yarmouth, and staff and fellow drinkers have been left devastated by their loss.
Bar manager Tina Lacey and regular patron Gary Mackenzie were both close friends of Mr Porter – who is believed to have owned the blue and white speedboat – and had been with him on Sunday evening. They said he had been out earlier on Sunday to drop fishing lines and was planning to head back out on Monday to check them.
Mr Mackenzie, 48, from Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth, said Mr Porter had asked him if he wanted to come along on Monday, but he had been too busy to join the fishing party. Alarm bells started to ring when he could not get hold of Mr Porter later that afternoon.
“I tried to ring him several times and his phone was off and I thought ‘this is strange, his phone’s never off’,” Mr Mackenzie said. “Then his partner walked in and said there’s been an accident with three people on board and straight away I put two and two together.”
Miss Lacey, 47, added: “I hadn’t seen him and I came in for my shift at 3pm and he wasn’t in here, which shocked me as I see him every day.
“Then his girlfriend came in and said he hadn’t come home and there’d been a boat accident. I just knew then. It’s horrible, I have been so upset.”
Friends at the pub said Mr Porter, aged in his 40s, had a “heart of gold” and described Mr Sayer, aged in his 70s, as a “lovely old boy”.
Police have been examining CCTV footage covering Gorleston harbour, from where the boat launched. The 18ft boat, which was recovered from the water on Monday night, has been examined and the investigation to determine what happened is ongoing.
Two possible theories have emerged as to why the boat capsized – it struck an object or fishing lines became entangled in its propellers causing it to flip – and police said they had taken calls from people who reportedly saw the vessel in rough seas between Gorleston and Lowestoft.
Anyone who may have knowledge of Mr Chambers’ family members is asked to contact Steve Bignell, coroners’ officer, on 01986 835167.