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Missing millionairess Ona Mary Unwin was warned not to sail

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

  • Ona Mary Unwin last seen leaving Mousehole harbour on Saturday.

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A NEWLY-WED millionairess, who is feared dead after going missing on her yacht at the weekend, was warned by a Mousehole fisherman not to sail in the dark minutes before she set off.

Ona Mary Unwin, 65, was last seen leaving Mousehole harbour at 6.30pm on Saturday, bumping her boat on the way out of the quay as she set sail to meet her husband in Bideford.

Mrs Unwin, who bought the boat in Falmouth only days before and was said to have not sailed for years, has not been seen since, but debris from a boat was found washed up between Sennen and St Just earlier this week.

A mass search and rescue effort, conducted by volunteer teams including Land's End coastguard, lifeboats from Penlee, Sennen Cove and St Ives, and RNAS Culdrose and RMB Chivenor, was stood down following the news.

Mrs Unwin, who bought the £32,000 yacht, Seagair, from Falmouth yacht brokers last week, arrived in Mousehole shortly before 3pm on Saturday and left again at 6.30pm.

Harbour master Edwin Madron, said Mrs Unwin was seen heading into the village, before asking local fisherman Bill Johnson for help letting off her ropes.

Mr Johnson told The Cornishman he had warned Mrs Unwin, who was dressed in a light windsheeter and pull-ups, against sailing to Bideford in the dark, but she replied: "It's just like driving a car at night".

He said: "Somebody had already told her the weather was getting worse this week and she was hell-bent on going. I turned to my partner and said, 'I have just sent a woman to her death'. I wish I hadn't said that but that's what it felt like. I wish I had been firmer."

He added that Mrs Unwin's vessel, powered by a six-knot engine, would have got to Land's End and faced an eight-knot tide race.

Jayne Hobkirk, from the ship brokers in Falmouth, said that Mrs Unwin had limited experience."She said she had a captain's ticket, but it sounded like she hadn't done any sailing for some time," she said.

Following the disappearance of Mrs Unwin, who appeared on Channel 4 documentary, The Pawn King, last year, a huge rescue effort was conducted between Mousehole and north Devon. Wreckage washed up in Sennen, which included seats and parts of a keel, was positively identified as belonging to a Moody, the same type of boat as Seagair.

Nigel Aird, from Penzance, was at the beach on Monday and said: "I just saw an awful lot of activity. The coastguard team walked past with (what could have been) the lady's coat. At one point I saw members of the public walking on the beach with some pieces of the boat. I felt a great deal of sadness for the woman."

Falmouth coastguard called off the search for Mrs Unwin on Tuesday. A spokesman said she was still a missing person.

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