Missing… where is she?

I wrote a little while ago about Andrew O’Hagan’s book ‘The Missing’. My eye was caught by this story which was on the news this morning:


An air and sea search has been launched off the north Cornwall coast for a 65-year-old yachtswoman. There has been no contact from Ona Mary Unwin since she set sail from Mousehole in Cornwall on Saturday evening for her home in Bideford in north Devon. She bought the £32,000 Seagair in Falmouth last Thursday and was advised by the sellers Falmouth Yacht Brokers not to make the trip on her own. Relatives in Bideford raised the alarm on Sunday after she failed to appear. Jayne Hobkirk, of Falmouth Yacht Brokers, said she had appeared on Thursday with her husband and paid for the boat with a banker’s draft.


“She said she had a captain’s ticket, but it sounded like she hadn’t done any sailing for many years,” she said. “I told her to get a refresher course, but that that would normally take some days.”

Ms Unwin, who is locally known as Mary, left Falmouth on her own in the yacht on Friday without collecting the paperwork. Lifeboats from Penlee, Sennen and St Ives and helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RMB Chivenor have joined the search. Coastguards have also been searching harbours around the coast for the Seagair which is white with a blue stripe along its hull.

Steve Huxley, search and rescue manager at Falmouth Coastguard, said: “The woman departed Mousehole on Saturday evening on board her newly-purchased vessel. “We understand that she was heading for Bideford. We have been unable to find her and are very concerned for her safety.”

The Seagair, built in 1985, was described by the brokers as having been “maintained in excellent condition” and “in great condition for her age”. David Rayment, coxswain of the Penlee lifeboat which searched for the yacht from 02:00 to 05:00 BST, said: “We don’t know where she went, so it’s a big area to search, but we had no sightings at all.

Although on he face of it there seems no mystery, in actual fact there is; yes, she was ‘in great condition for her age’, I’ve used the description of the boat here, and yes she was obviously a sailor .. but where did she get £32,000 from? Why did she sale off on her own and where was she going? Where is she now?

I really hope she is found safe and well and her yacht undamaged, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the background story!

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