Fundraiser planned for solo sailor

A Welsh yachtsman’s round-the-world voyage has come to end after he struck a reef and sank off the coast of Australia.

Solo sailor Billy Hughes’ 39ft Kymika, which the 71-year-old had bought as a shell and rebuilt himself, ran into Ackers Reef off northern Queensland.

A local TV channel reported that the vessel split and Mr Hughes was rescued by people in two dinghies after a Mayday call.

His boat then sank in the Torres Strait and Mr Hughes, originally from Conwy, was taken to nearby Thursday Island by helicopter.

Mr Hughes said: ‘It was just horrendous because I was bouncing all over the reef as I was sinking.

‘I was praying to God I could have gotten over the reef and into deep water, but it just wasn’t going to happen.’

After leaving hospital, he attempted to salvage his yacht, but it had disappeared with all of his possessions on board.

He emigrated to Australia many years ago, but set off in May 2006 from Perth, Western Australia back to Wales.

He was just a few months away from completing his journey, after spending 13 months in North Wales.

Conwy lifeboatman Pete Carradus, who knows Mr Hughes, said: ‘He sailed from North Wales to Madeira, the Azores, Brazil and the Panama

Canal to the Pacific.

‘When he arrived off Australia, the prevailing winds were such that he went anti-clockwise across the top of Australia towards Perth.

‘Then his friends got a fax from him to say he had been rescued in the Torres Strait near Cairns. Everybody feels very sorry for him.’

His friend Terry Hughes was dismayed by the accident and is holding a fundraiser at North Wales Cruising Club in Conwy on Saturday October 2 at 1930.

He said: ‘His self-steering packed up. He was doing something else on the yacht and by the time he got back to the helm it was too late. He’s lost his boat and most of his clothes and possessions.’

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