‘I wouldn’t do it again’: teen tells of broken arm and burns during epic voyage
- Credit: Archant
A stormy first night at sea, a fractured arm and a race to get home before the county went into lockdown.
When a Norfolk trio set sail to circumnavigate Britain in a Victorian oyster smack, they had no idea what adventures lay ahead.
On August 25, Ben Danziger, 18, along with his father Josh Danziger, 57, and friend Ash Faire Ring, 19, set off from Wells harbour in the family’s 1892 Oyster Smack with the aim of sailing around the coast of Britain.
Along the way the trio encountered stormy weather, injuries and various local lockdown restrictions which made shopping for supplies tricky.
But when the government announced the country would be plunged into a second nationwide lockdown from November 5 the intrepid sailors knew they had a fast approaching deadline to meet.
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Now, after completing a gruelling 45-hour final leg from Scotland to Wells in order to get home before lockdown, the trio have safely arrived back in Norfolk.
Ben, from Burnham Overy Staithe, said although exhausting, the trip had been fantastic: “It’s been incredible, we have seen so many things, all the different places around the UK, quite amazing things in Wales and Scotland.”
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He said the idea for the trip first came about during the initial lockdown and as a result of not being able to go anywhere or have much to do.
“I was the lucky year that didn’t have to sit my exams, I had just got out from school with nothing to do.
“The boat is my dad’s boat, [Primrose], it was built in 1892. I think we really needed to get some use out of it. He got it in 2011, and in 2017 he started doing a lot of work on it.
“The boat has always been ready to be pushed to its limits but never really had.
“I think it was the lack of things to do and the excitement of going around the UK and seeing everywhere and my dad really wanted to do it,” he said.
The trio set off on their voyage on August 25 heading clockwise around the country, but soon encountered some stormy weather, Ben said: “The first night of the trip was the worst night of the trip because we got caught in a water spout so it was a rough night.”
After getting through the first night’s weather the trio set sail along the south coast.
Along the way crew substitutions had to be made after Ben fractured his arm but his brothers were able to step in and he was able to rejoin Primrose in Cornwall.
He said the south west was a personal highlight of the voyage. “Cornwall was one of the most amazing places. It was nice weather, not too windy.
“I’m pretty accident prone by this point. In Scotland I burned my hand on the wood burner stove. I’m the only one to really get that many injuries over the two months.”
Heading north around the country and through the Caledonian Canal, the trio were moored off the coast off east Scotland when they heard the country would be going into a second lockdown.
Ben said: “We were a bit worried that if we didn’t get back before lockdown the harbours wouldn’t let us in. The weather worked in our favour and we had a phenomenal weather window. We managed to do 200 miles a day.”
After putting in a 45-hour leg to get home to Wells at around 8.30am on November 5, Ben said while he enjoyed the trip, he would not do it again.
“I think it’s fair to say we all really enjoyed the journey but it gets a bit relentless - the east coast is a bit of a featureless coast.
“That’s what really drove us to do that final leg, the motivation to get back home.
“I think it’s been such an experience and it’s given me so many memories but I don’t think I would do it again.”