THRILLS and spills on the high seas are the subject of a memoir by a Heckmondwike boat lover.
Kevin Speight, who has a shop in the town centre. has written a book of his favourite memories of 50 years of his adventures on the sea, from his first boat, the Prim, to his last, the Star Quest.
Kevin bought a boat on an impulse more than 50 years ago, little realising it would be the start of a lifelong passion.
He said: “It’s an interesting story and I have had some quite incredible incidents which nobody would imagine could happen.
“Everybody that has read the book has said how fascinated they were by it.
“I went from one boat to another, increasing in size each time, and I have had some quite incredible adventures, from being rescued half way across the English Channel, 20 miles from the nearest land, to almost being arrested for speeding on the Grand Canal in Venice.
“We took a four tonne trailer with a boat across the Alps on a highly precarious mountain pass, which had never been done before.
“We were going to the Adriatic for a holiday and on that particular occasion the motorway road was closed because there had been a fire in the tunnel.
“We had to take the old roads – it took three days because the car was overheating all the time. We slept on the boat.
“I have been going off with boats for 50 years and every time I have got back I have had some real unusual adventures.
“People have always asked me, ‘what happened this time?’ because they expected something has gone wrong. I have always said my holiday wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have some mishaps!”
When he heard there would be solar eclipse in 1999, Kevin, from Mirfield, decided he would find the exact spot where the sun would be completely eclipsed by the moon. It was out to sea, so Kevin took his family out in their boat – and discovered thousands of other people had done the same thing.
He said: “There must have been a thousand boats in that spot to see the eclipse.”
Kevin said the book had taken him five years to write, but he had not referred to diaries or notes – everything was from memory.
He added: “I have been living each story as I have been writing it and laughing thinking about myself in these situations.
“I haven’t used any nautical terms – I’ve made the book readable to everybody, even people who know nothing about boats.
“People can enjoy it and relate to the stories.”
Copies of the book are available from Kevin’s shop Distinctions, 17 Westgate, Heckmondwike, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by ring 07970 787077.