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"He has agreed to take up an offer of free sailing lessons"
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Jim Green, North Wales Coastguard
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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
Captain Calamity strikes again
Eric Abbott
Eric Abbott has been rescued several times
A hapless yachtsman dubbed "Captain Calamity" has called the coastguard out for a twelfth time in one year - and twice in one day.

Eric Abbott, 56, hailed Holyhead coastguards for the second time on Thursday after getting into trouble in Rhyl harbour, north Wales.

He was rescued in the morning after his home-made boat ran aground in the Rhyl estuary.

On Thursday evening, he tried to move his mooring and fouled his propellor on underwater chains.

Eric Abbott
Sea sense: Mr Abbott plans his next trip
He called the coastguard for assistance and was placed in another mooring.

Earlier, "exasperated" coastguards began investigating whether they could take action against Mr Abbott.

The morning rescue came just 48 hours after Eric Abbott had radioed for help.

This man is irresponsible

Coastguard and Marine Safety Agency
The unemployed painter, from Northwich in Cheshire, uses a 1997 copy of the AA Road Atlas to sail across the Irish Sea and has admitted on several occasions that he does not know where he is.

Coastguards have called him "irresponsible", but Mr Abbott said that was "absolute rubbish".

It is believed his adventures have cost the coastguard service up to 55,000.

Mr Abbott has now agreed to undergo a free 10-day sea skipper course run by the Royal Yachting Association, which normally costs just 500.

Penny Haire, assistant chief cruising instructor, said the course would give Mr Abbott an "understanding of navigation and improve his boat-handling ability".

She added: "Most importantly, we think it will teach him to be aware of his limitations and to have a healthy respect for the sea."

A spokesperson for Holyhead Coastguard said Mr Abbott radioed an SOS call to Holyhead coastguard at 0819 BST on Thursday to say he was having trouble bringing his boat into the estuary.

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) boat was sent to his rescue but by the time they arrived Mr Abbott had run aground.

'I'm not giving up'

But the yachtsman has vowed to continue and shouted to journalists through the cabin door: "I'm not giving up." He added: "Bring out the champagne."

Asked whether he had a coastal skipper's licence, Mr Abbott shouted: "I don't need one, I'm far more intelligent."

Just 48 hours earlier lifeboat crews had spent nearly an hour trying to locate Mr Abbott's 24ft home-made yacht after he radioed for help during a trip from Howth, near Dublin, to Amlwch in Anglesey.

Mr Abbott, who said he enjoyed going out to sea alone to "find himself", has no official navigation system on his boat - named Plus VAT as a protest against tax.

The Coastguard and Maritime Agency has pleaded with him to equip himself with proper sea charts.

An agency spokesperson said: "This man is irresponsible and we are investigating to see if there is anything we can do.

Other lives at risk

"He should think about the cost, because launching a fully manned lifeboat is an expensive operation and, of course, he could be putting the lives of others at risk."

He added: "Coastguard officers all over the UK are having to nanny him from port to port, and he has been given a speech about navigation, but he doesn't seem to take it seriously."

I'm not giving up. Bring out the champagne

Eric Abbott
Holyhead coastguard has co-ordinated seven rescues but it has emerged that lifeboat crews from Liverpool, Belfast and Milford Haven have also had to come to his aid.

Mr Abbott began building his yacht 18 years ago when he lost his job as a painter.

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See also:

01 Aug 00 | Wales
Rugby star in sea rescue
29 Jul 00 | Wales
Jetski boy rescues family
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