In July 1964, Frank Dye and Bill Brockbank set out on a 650-mile passage across the North Sea in a 15ft 10in dinghy, and they filmed it!
VIDEO: A summer cruise – Scotland to Norway in a dinghy
Bill Brockbank attended a talk given by Frank Dye at Earl’s Court Boat Show in 1963, about his recent passage from Scotland to Iceland in his Wayfarer called Wanderer. It was one of the endeavours that had earned him the nickname ‘Madman of the Atlantic.’ Inspired, Brockbank pestered Dye until he allowed him to join as crew on his next ‘summer holiday’, 650 miles from Scotland to Norway via the Faroes.
The leg to the Faroes went without a hitch, and they were half way into the 450-mile leg to Norway when Frank Dye remembered to listen to the shipping forecast on their small radio set. It wasn’t good: ‘Faroes: wind northerly, severe gale, force nine, backing northwest.’
By mid-afternoon they had unstepped their mast, streamed their sea anchor and fitted a canvas cover over the boat. But, with winds of almost 50 knots and 37ft seas, they were hopelessly exposed and capsized four times, losing most of their food and water and snapping their mast in two places. The storm abated after 18 hours, and Dye and Brockbank, both cold and exhausted, finally got some sleep.
They arrived of course, and only at the height of the storm did Brockbank stop filming. The result is a remarkable record of a voyage some might say was suicidal.