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Missing the boat saved his life!

PUBLISHED: 11:47 14 May 2010 | UPDATED: 20:09 27 April 2012

A MAN has recalled how his tardiness actually saved his life 57 years ago.

Bob Parker, of Halesworth, was due to sail with the trawler Guava on January 29, 1953, but when he missed the boat that day, little could he have realised the difference that would make to his life.

A MAN has recalled how his tardiness actually saved his life 57 years ago.

Bob Parker, of Halesworth, was due to sail with the trawler Guava on January 29, 1953, but when he missed the boat that day, little could he have realised the difference that would make to his life.

Guava left Lowestoft heading for Kent with 11 men aboard, but after being caught up in the great storm of January 31, she would never return to port.

“I remember reporting to the customs, which I had to do if I missed the boat. The Guava was just outside the harbour by this time,” said Mr Parker, 84. “To turn a fishing boat around once it has set sail was looked upon as bad luck, so I let it go without me.”

Exactly how the ex-Navy wooden minesweeper and her crew met their end is not known for certain, though it is presumed she was engulfed by the raging seas as she attempted to ride out the storm. Another Lowestoft trawler received a faint radio message on January 30 saying she was hauling her gear “and going to dodge” to turn her bows into the storm.

It was the last message received from the crew and four days after she should have returned to Claridge Trawlers, the trawler was officially reported as missing.

“My father in law was also a fisherman. He said to me 'that was your warning', so I never went to sea again,” said Mr Parker, a father of three.

Guava was one of 80 Lowestoft trawlers to be caught in the storm. All returned to shore without serious damage, except for Guava, which was the largest and supposedly safest of the fleet at that time.

The crew lost were skipper George (Tash) Fisher aged 41, Mate Roy Dann (32), Chief Engineer Henry Taylor (38), Deckhand George Turner (58), Deckhand Edward Sizer (38), Arthur (Lordy) Howe (58), Robert Girling (45) Louis George Chapman (42) and deckhand learner Anthony James Folkard (16 and on his first trip), all of Lowestoft and G H Stone (34) of Gorleston and Cook J H Vince (40) of Great Yarmouth.

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