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Marine authorities dub another “Captain Calamity”

NOV. 14 — Stanley Ross, a 36-year-old Scotsman, says he always wanted to make his living on the sea. Authorities, however, say he just should have done it with more than a boat and a mobile phone.

When Ross lost his job as an engineer, he saw it as an opportunity to start a new career as a fisherman. He used savings to buy a 27-foot open-deck boat named Boy John and set off on a voyage back home through the North Sea Nov. 5 – minus a working radio and charts. In addition, his flares were out of date and his anchor wasn’t even attached to the boat, according to a news report in

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency tried in vain to keep track of Ross after he was reported overdue at his first port of call. As the weather turned nasty, however, they were finally forced to send him a text message telling him to call 999 — the telephone number for the emergency services in the United Kingdom —and ask for the Coastguard, according to the report.

Ross first told them he was in Dornoch Firth, but by then he was in the Pentland Firth, 75 miles from where Ross thought he was. As darkness fell, rescue crews finally caught up with him as he was drifting close to the rocks near Orkney Islands, and a lifeboat towed him out. By the end of the search, there was a helicopter, three lifeboats, an inshore rescue craft and eight search teams looking for Ross, according to the report.

“The fact that he thought he was in the Dornoch Firth and he ended up in the Pentland Firth would suggest that the guy doesn’t have a clue,” said Mark Clark, a Coastguard spokesperson in the report.

Ross defended his position, saying he had the experience and gear to make the trip.

“I had the experience for what should have been a straightforward trip,” he said in the report. “I only planned to be at sea in daylight, in sight of the shore. The weather conditions were pretty drastic and I was blown further north than I expected.”

— Elizabeth Ellis