As a small boy with elderly parents in Seaview, Isle of Wight, Richard Scott-Hughes had a dream of spending all day and every day whenever possible on the water. In this he succeeded.
John Scott-Hughes, his father, was born in 1893 and served before the mast in the Merchant Navy before becoming a master mariner in his thirties. He wrote a number of books on seamanship and his sailing experiences which have become classics and are still relevant some 80 years later. In 1933 he was appointed the Yachting Correspondent of The Times, remaining in his post, barring his Second World War years as a Lieutenant Commander RNVR, until a few months before his death in 1960.
Richard Scott-Hughes was born in 1933 and lived in Seaview or on various yachts all his life. He took up sailing as a young boy and was given his own clinker-built Seaview One Design dinghy, "Tiger Tim". He quickly became a capable helmsman and won the Hard Weather Cup in Seaview dinghies in 1947 aged 14, a feat not achieved before or since. He was afloat in all weathers and on several occasions had to be prevented from sailing towards the Nab Tower, some eight miles to the east of Seaview, in heavy winds and seas.
As a boy Richard learned and honed his skills by sailing every day he could in Seaview Dinghies or Seaview Mermaids, a local keelboat peculiar to Seaview. Fearless on the water, he instinctively correlated all the wind, wave and tidal patterns of The Solent. His name appears on 28 different sailing cups at Seaview with over 80 engravings – a record unlikely to be beaten.
He did his National Service in the Royal Navy and at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth he learned to sail much larger yachts, including several "Windfall" yachts, which had been seized as bounty by the British from the German U-Boat pens in Kiel. After National Service he entered the yacht chartering business and operated in the South of France. In 1960 he purchased his own charter yacht "Boekaneer" a 60ft white schooner designed by Alden and built in Holland, and in October that year he married his childhood sweetheart, Jenny Few-Brown, in Seaview. For their honeymoon they set sail for Antigua in the West Indies with Scott-Hughes' younger cousin, Gavin Hogge, aged 20, having to play gooseberry.
After their arrival in the West Indies Scott-Hughes and Jenny based themselves in the St. George's Lagoon in Grenada. They set up a yacht service chartering out of Grenada – on one charter he enjoyed the company of the film actress, Dawn Adams – and a marina business. He also established Radio Grenada, which enabled foreign yachts to keep in touch and to know what was happening throughout the Windward Islands. "Scottie" led the life of his dreams, of which most people would be very envious. It was often run on a shoestring but at the end of it all he was usually able to overcome all kinds of breakdowns, repairs or deficiencies in a round-about way.
He took great pride in being one of that rare breed of yachtsmen able to enter most harbours under sail, without using the engine. This was often due to running out of fuel. On one occasion while returning from Bermuda to Seaview via the Azores they ran out of gas early on and had to cook on the engine, but luckily there was enough fuel to get them within sight of the Azores before the engine gave up the ghost. They sailed on and anchored in a quiet bay before paddling round a headland in their small rubber tender only to arrive on a very busy beach apparently as if from nowhere. When asked where they had come from they replied in unison, "Bermuda!"
In 1963 Scott-Hughes returned to Seaview before sailing across the Atlantic again in "China Clipper" a 52ft yacht of Chinese design. Whenever he was back in England he was much in demand as a racing skipper or as a yacht deliverer. He also won many famous Royal Ocean Racing Club races including the Morgan Cup on "Volante", owned by Aubrey Barr
Scott-Hughes also sailed in the 1964 Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda race and in the 1965 RORC Channel and Fastnet races in "China Clipper" with a crew, again, from the Seaview Yacht Club. He also sailed in the 1969 Fastnet and the 1970 Newport, Rhode Island race to Bermuda on "Brambers", owned by Aubrey Barr. Once again the whole crew was from Seaview – plus a very tired and elderly pseudo-famous navigator whose first star sight at night placed us 25 miles inland. In the 1970s he skippered the British yacht "Illusion" to victory in the International One Ton Cup in Kiel with a relatively scratch crew from Seaview.
Scott-Hughes gave great inspiration to people of all ages and background on both sides of the Atlantic and certainly inspired me and many other Seaview Yacht Club members to cross the Atlantic and to voyage all around the world – two members of the SVYC sailed in the Whitbread Round the World Races in the 1970s, for example. All in all, "Scottie" crossed the Atlantic 21 times and the Pacific three times. He also sailed extensively up and down the Eastern seaboard of the United States and throughout the Bahamas, Windward Islands and Gulf of Mexico.
He was a great entertainer, a philosopher and an addicted reader of all things maritime who built up his own extensive library. Sadly he did not finish his autobiography. Before his passing he had been planning the family summer cruises in his small ketch, "Amanti", around the Normandy and Brittany coasts. Richard Scott-Hughes belonged to an earlier century, a more piratical age – one can envisage him as "Long John Silver" with an eye patch, and a large parrot perched permanently on his shoulder.
Richard Scott-Hughes, sailor and charterer: born Seaview, Isle of Wight 15 June 1933; married 1960 Jennifer Few-Brown (one son, one daughter); died 20 April 2009.