Unity Bowns was sailing with father Matthew, 58, when he fell ill with gallstone pancreatitis.
But the quick-thinking girl took control and sailed the boat five miles to meet her mother, Rachel, who was waiting at the pontoon in Emsworth, Hants. “I wasn’t really sure what to do so I phoned mummy, but it did feel a bit like I was on my own.”
“I sort of knew what I was meant to be doing because daddy had told me a lot about this sort of thing – but I never thought I’d experience it first hand.”
“I was thinking of getting daddy in safely but there were two parts to that – making sure he was still okay while he was down below crouched over – and to get the boat back.”
“It was quite easy until it came to mooring up, it was tricky doing it on my own. I think daddy is quite proud of me.”
Unity’s father phoned earlier that morning to say he felt unwell after staying overnight aboard the Achilles 24 with his daughter.
And when he collapsed she reacted quickly, using the outboard motor to power back to Emsworth, despite hardly being able to see from her place at the helm.
Now The Royal Yacht Association has rewarded Unity for her ‘courage and fortitude in an emergency’.
It was the first time Unity, who has been sailing since she was four, had solo skippered a boat that big.
She had to navigate past a number of vessels as she moved from their anchored position at Mill Rythe on Hayling Island, Hants.
When they made it back to the pontoon, a member of Emsworth Sailing Club rushed Matthew to the hospital.
Her mother, Rachel, said she was initially concerned Unity might not be able to handle the boat.
The 47-year-old said: “Unity’s very practical and very down to earth – she just got on with it.”
“I was very proud of her and so was her dad. He was there and conscious, so he was able to advise her if she needed it but in fact she didn’t.”
Courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk