What is a life worth?


Pity poor Duncan Wells, the 52-year-old Yachtmaster Instructor almost killed when a white handheld flare he was demonstrating, backfired and pushed his intestines out through his back. He lost his large intestine, spleen, and part of his pancreas and after nine months in hospital and 20 operations was left with a colostomy bag and slurred speech.

Hardly surprising then that he should be very angry over his treatment by Pains Wessex insurers Zurich Insurance who endeavoured to cut his compensation down. In the end he got what he describes as a ‘paltry’ £950,000 (see Yachting Monthly August for his exclusive interview).

But should we be surprised at the behaviour of the Gnomes of Zurich? There is something about Switzerland that leaves me cold: the Nazi gold hoarded while people died all round their neutral Alpine borders during World War II; their finnickty obsession with form: all those manicured, litterless and perfect streets, not to mention their bland and overpriced food. Thank God as sailors we don’t have to go anywhere near it.