Vale Clive Imber

Vale Clive Imber

Local sailor Clive Imber, who made a single-handed double crossing of the Atlantic when he was in his late sixties, has died. He was 92.

A well-known figure on Pittwater at the helm of his dark blue 23ft gaff-rigged cutter Rummager 2 he also crewed regularly with friends and was a member of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and then Royal Motor Yacht Club.

Imber had a colourful past and, as a member of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, fought in the Korean War. In civilian life his sporting activity was as joint master and huntsman of the Norfolk Beagles. Hunting was banned when he was in his fifties and, desperate for something new, he enquired about lessons at a little local sailing club.  After his first session, where he turned up wearing a Barbour jacket and green wellies, he was hooked.

It was not long before he had qualified for an Ocean Yachtmaster Certificate and bought his first boat, a Falmouth Bass, a South Coast One Design. Then he had a Vancouver 34 sloop built at Itchenor, West Sussex, to fulfil his dream of sailing the Atlantic single-handed – a feat which he achieved at the age of 66 in 1996.

He departed Falmouth and began the Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands along the traditional trade winds route. He met a solitary Russian cargo ship and the master delighted him by calling him ‘one of us, a man of the sea’. His partner of many years, Sheila joined him in Antigua and they cruised the Caribbean for many weeks. When told the cost of shipping the boat back, he decided the only option was to sail Rummager back himself.

On the return voyage he put into the Azores and in time-honoured tradition painted the name of his boat on the harbour wall (pictured).

Sheila joined him unexpectedly for a brief holiday before he set sail again for England, making final landfall just before his 68th birthday and completing a total 8,596 nautical miles on the round trip.

Imber was sailing up to a year ago when he reluctantly sold Rummager 2, the boat he had had shipped to Australia in a container when he settled here in 2005.

Determined to keep fit, he spent time on his rowing machine each day and was fit enough to walk to the car when finally admitted to Northern Beaches Hospital, where he died peacefully a few days later.

As he wished, his ashes have been scattered out to sea off Barrenjoey and he asked for any donations to be sent to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute – a volunteer organisation whose services he was thankful never to have needed.