Lisburn pensioner makes it across the North Channel to Scotland in a bath
by MARY MAGEE
A LISBURN pensioner has beaten the odds and somehow managed to steer a bathtub all the way across the forbidding North Channel to Scotland.
Mervyn Kinkead (65), who lives in the Antrim Road area, set sail from Donaghadee in his motor powered bath at lunchtime on Tuesday and was greeted by a cheering band of wellwishers as he sailed into Portpatrick just as twilight fell around eight hours later.
A friend Trevor Jordan had made adjustments to their tub by putting a five horse power engine and stabilisers onto it, but otherwise it was just like the bath in your house. While travelling across the Irish Sea the madcap pensioner even performed a handstand in the bath but his journey was almost short lived when, just 20 minutes after leaving, his tub began to ship water forcing him to bail it out.
Two friends followed him in separate boats and were able to speak to him via radio link throughout the trip.
He kept his nerve and cool during the eight hour journey kept the bath afloat until just a few miles from Scotland when disaster almost struck again as he began to sink. Desperate efforts by Mervyn and his friends managed to clear the water from the tub and he was able to continue.
At this stage Mervyn admits he felt like giving up, but knew that would have meant letting people who had supported him and, more importantly the two charities that were to beneftt from his adventure, down.
"I knew I was under pressure," he said. "I really wanted to complete it but it was rough at times with three feet waves. It doesn't sound big but when you are in a tub they are massive.
"It was a miracle that I completed it. I hadn't looked round me and it was only towards the end I feite the belt of my trousers getting wet and realised I was sitting in water and was sinking!"
A crowd had gathered as Mervyn followed the coast round to Portpatrick where he was treated like a celebrity.
"I really wanted to complete it," he said. "If there was nothing riding on
this then I could
well have given up but because I knew people were meeting me at the other end and it was for charity I had to keep on going."
Mervyn returned home in a more conventional way - by ferry with a friend - and was back in Lisburn in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The two charities benefiting from Mervyn's endeavours are Marie Curie Cancer Care and the 'Water for Life' project run by Friends in Action based in Lisburn.