Experienced Sailors drown from Dinghy

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Never underestimate the trip from Dock to Yacht. After relating the story a couple of months ago of two people who spent three days blown by the wind into the South China Sea when their dinghy engine failed, now two experienced British sailors have drowned on the way to their sailing boat in their dinghy.

Precisely what happened may never be known, but their sailing community is today in shock after the yachtsmen lost their lives in the swollen water of the River Deben. They were not wearing life jackets.

The two men set off from the Ramsholt Arms, in Dock Road, Ramsholt, near Bawdsey, in their eight foot dingy on yesterday lunchtime. They had been heading out to enjoy a weekend fishing trip on their 28 ft red and white yacht, 'Marlin'.

But the trip turned to tragedy when the bodies of the two men were discovered today by harbour master John White and his assistant, Stephen Read.

Mr White, 68 was alerted after an empty dinghy was discovered washed up on the banks of Bawdsey Quay at around 9.30am today.

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Mr White said: 'I called the coastguard and I called my assistant Steven to give me a hand because I felt that we should have a search.

'We went out in our two boats so we could cover double the ground in less time, but we hadn't been searching long when I found one body in the water about a mile up from the Bawdsey Quay.

'It had almost sunk and all I could see was a navy blue piece of material and I didn't even know it was a body then but as soon as I got closer, I saw it was face down, so I knew it was a dead body - it was traumatic to see it.'

Mr White stayed with the body for 20 minutes while he waited for the coastguard.

He said: 'We felt that there was another person or another body and there was always the possibility that someone had survived.'

Another body was then discovered a quarter of a mile up the River Deben.

Mr White said: 'It's a terrible tragedy, they were experienced yachtsmen by looking at all the gear in their boat but neither of them appeared to have life jackets on which would have probably saved their lives.'

The men, who had had their yacht moored at Ramsholt Quay, near Bawdsey, are believed to be from the Nottingham area, and had been sailing from the quiet and secluded Suffolk beauty spot for several years.

The owner of the Ramsholt Arms, Patrick Levy, said the incident had left the small sailing community in complete shock.

He said: 'We know most of the sailors who come down here and it's a terrible shock to us and to this small community.

'I still can't get over how they managed to lose their lives because they were both experienced sailors-how something like that could happen-it just shows how dangerous the waters are here.'