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Mudeford sailor Ken Fowler circumnavigates every English and Welsh island to support Cancer Research UK and Oakhaven Hospice, finishing with Isle of Wight

Dedicated dinghy sailor Ken Fowler from Mudeford will complete a circumnavigation of every island off the coast of England and Wales tomorrow (Wednesday) with a lap of the Isle of Wight.

Raising funds for Lymington’s Oakhaven Hospice and Cancer Research UK, Ken will complete the 12-hour voyage around the isle in a single-handed dinghy called Yoda which is the “size of two bathtubs”.

It will be the 262nd island off the coastline Ken has circumnavigated in this way and is the culmination of a four-year fundraising odyssey covering more than 1,200 miles.

Ken Fowler and his trusty vessel Yoda (picture: Ken Fowler)
Ken Fowler and his trusty vessel Yoda (picture: Ken Fowler)

Ken set himself a target of raising £50,000 for charity after losing his father and other relatives to cancer. He has already smashed that fundraising target, having raised more than £64,000.

Ken said: “It’s been incredibly challenging. Not just the sailing but the driving very long distances to get to each location.

“Most of the time you can’t just launch and land – it’s not like setting off from a jetty as you do in Lymington.

“I usually have to carry the dinghy over a footpath or something to get to a beach.

“There have also been times when the weather just wasn’t right for sailing, so I’ve had a wasted drive, or I have to sit on an island for four hours waiting for the tide to change so I can complete a journey.

“At Lindisfarne, for example, I had to drive onto the island at low tide, set off when the tide was high again, and on my way back round I’m sailing past road signs that I drove past a few hours earlier.

Ken has raised more than £64,000 (picture: Ken Fowler)
Ken has raised more than £64,000 (picture: Ken Fowler)

“Once the journey was complete, I had to wait again for the tide to drop again so I can drive back to the mainland.”

Ken said he had to purposefully “capsize” his vessel numerous times to navigate under bridges and he rescued four teenagers who got stuck on an island off the Norfolk coast.

He said: “I was sailing around an island when I saw two teenagers waving and shouting to me. At first I thought, ‘oh, they’re probably just excited to see the dinghy’ but when I sailed closer they said they were stuck. They said two other teens had tried to walk back to the mainland over the spit of land they crossed on.

“I went to find those two teens and they were already up to their necks in water.”

Ken said he was able to pick up the teenagers one by one and transfer them back to the mainland. He said: “The first person I took back was a young girl who was really shaking and nervous.

“I had to sit her on the front of the vessel while I leaned out the back and she was screaming ‘I’m going to die’. When I asked her why she was screaming she said she couldn’t swim. When I got her back to the mainland, she just ran off screaming.”

Ken Fowler out on the water (picture: Ken Fowler)
Ken Fowler out on the water (picture: Ken Fowler)

Ken said he brought the other teens back with the assistance of a windsurfer who also came to their aid.

Recalling the more pleasant parts of the challenge, Ken said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the most incredible wildlife.

“I have witnessed rafts of puffins off Skomer in South Wales, pods of dolphins in Cornwall and have been escorted around the Isles of Scilly by the famous Wally the Walrus, who weighed 20 times more than my boat.

“I have met the most generous and supportive people along the way. Their generosity in donating to two life changing charities has helped support me as I tackle every island, every disappointment and every success.”

Ken is due to set off on his voyage around the Isle of Wight on Wednesday (7th June) at around 5.15am. To support his fundraising visit yodare.co.uk

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