'I want to bring it home' - Woman's three-year quest for late father's boat

Sarah Spinks, 38, from Ellingham, searchd for her late father's old boat, a Sea King called Alcyone, for three years.

Sarah Spinks, 38, from Ellingham, searchd for her late father's old boat, a Sea King called Alcyone, for three years. - Credit: Topsail Marine Yacht Brokers/Sarah Spinks (inset)

A woman's three-year quest to find her late father's beloved boat has ended in a marine graveyard in Essex - and now she is seeking help to bring the vessel home.

After Ellingham man Robert Neil Spinks died in October, 2017, his daughter, Sarah, promised herself she would discover the whereabouts of his old cruiser, a Sea King called Alcyone.

Ms Spinks, 38, said: "That boat was his pride and joy. He spent months of blood, sweat and tears restoring it."

Robert Nick Spinks and his daughter Sarah.

Robert Neil Spinks and his daughter Sarah. - Credit: Sarah Spinks

Built in the 1960s and made from mahogany, one of the vessel's distinguishing features was a wooden fish carved out of the cabin, which they were told had been blessed by a monk.

Mr Spinks would take his wife and daughter sailing up the Broads and out to sea on holidays.


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"We all loved that boat," said Ms Spinks.

The Alcyone, a Sea King boat once owned by Ellingham man Robert Neil Spinks, who died in 2017. His daughter is hoping to...

The Alcyone, a Sea King boat once owned by Ellingham man Robert Neil Spinks, who died in 2017. His daughter is hoping to bring the boat home from Titchmarsh Marina graveyard in Essex. - Credit: Topsail Marine Yacht Brokers

But after a series of strokes and the onset of dementia, Mr Spinks could no longer sail and had to sell the boat. That was in 2005.

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"It was a heartbreaking decision for him," his daughter said.

After he died in October, 2017, Ms Spinks made it her mission to find the 24-foot cruiser, joining at least 30 boating groups on Facebook and asking their members for help.

Last year, she was on the verge of giving up.

But one morning, she opened Google and searched yet again for 'Sea King'. Among the results was a blog written by self-professed "ditch-crawler" Nick Ardley describing a visit to the graveyard at Titchmarsh Marina, in Essex, where he had come across and photographed an old, broken-down Sea King.

"I knew it was my father's boat because of the wooden fish inside it," Ms Spinks said.

From the pictures it was obvious the boat was in a bad way. "It has no engine, no motor, nothing. I just need the funds to take it home," said Ms Spinks.

Her investigation revealed the boat had been bought by someone in Woodbridge and has been sitting in Titchmarsh graveyard since about 2012.

Ms Spinks has set up a Go Fund Me page where she is hoping to raise £500 to transport the boat from Essex back to Ellingham.

"Once I get it, I'm just going to take it one day at a time. After a couple of years, if it's restored, I'll wait and see but I don't think I could let it go.

"It's something I've wanted to do for dad's memory," she said.

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