Flyd (1910-1994)

The Flyd is the most internationally well-known and most travelled of the seven historic Canache wrecks.  

Built in 1910 as a 29-foot two-masted yacht, she was made famous by her owner, the English round-the-world solo sailor, Rusty Webb, who had circumnavigated the globe in her in an epic voyage.  Rusty was an estate agent from Birmingham in England who had taken to the sea without any experience.  According to Birmingham newspaper reports, he purchased the Flyd sometime in 1965 and set off on unnoticed and unsponsored what he called “a world cruise” which would last almost three years and cover 35,000 miles of ocean.  

When he arrived in Falmouth, on the English south coast, in January 1969, it emerged that he had in fact circumnavigated the globe alone in an easterly direction.  But the Flyd was in need of repair.  The Birmingham Mail reported that “The Flydd (sic) had been in dry dock in Cornwall for a complete refit and painting ready for the second trip, this time going westwards.”

Key Facts:

sloop icon

Two-masted Ketch that became a Sloop

Size: 29 feet long, 9.6 feet wide. 5 gross tons
Fate: Beached in the Canache, Stanley

Rusty’s biggest problem was the ship’s engine, which he said had been put out of action when he ran aground “on a reef at Antigua in the West Indies, holing her below the water-line. I doubt if I shall be away as long this time,” he said. “But the beauty of cruising about. Is that you can please yourself.”

On the 6th February 1972 Rusty and the Flyd arrived in the Falkland Islands, stating that he intended to stay for a month and was on his second circumnavigation of the globe. Four weeks later, he set sail from Stanley harbour with the intention of rounding Cape Horn and heading for Easter Island.  As he guided Flyd towards The Narrows, Rusty suffered a massive heart attack.  He probably died immediately, because the Flyd, with no none at the helm, ran onto the beach near The Narrows and stuck fast. 

His death made news around the world. This is the report in the New York Times filed on the day he died:

PORT STANLEY, Falkland Islands, March 8 (AP)—C. H. (Rusty) Webb,’ British solo yachtsman, collapsed and died today at the tiller of his 29foot yacht, Flyd, outbound from Stanley Harbor on the next leg of a world cruise. He was 58 years old. Mr. Webb left his home port of Falmouth last October and had stopped at the Azores and Rio de Janeiro before arriving at these British islands off the southeast coast of Argentina. His course for the next leg was to Easter Island by way of Cape Horn. The yachtsman had logged eight years of lone sea travel and had circumnavigated the globe once before. He began his seagoing career with no knowledge of either seamanship or navigation.

The Wolverhampton Express and Star, one of Rusty’s Home Town papers, ran the headline ROUND WORLD SAILOR DIES AT THE TILLER (Thursday 09 March 1972) with the story: “British yachtsman Rusty Webb (60), who sailed single-handed round the world four years ago, is dead. The former Birmingham estate agent collapsed and died at the tiller of his sloop Flyd as he left Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.”

Once probate on Rusty’s estate had been granted, on 28th June 1972, Flyd was sold locally. News of what happened next is sketchy but she was moored for years next to the West Jetty in Stanley, before being sold again and moved to FIPASS, the floating pontoon structure in the harbour which forms a causeway to the shore. Her condition gradually deteriorated and in 1994 she was moved to her final resting place – the Canache, alongside the Weddell, where what’s left of a once proud round-the-world yacht remains.

Mark Spicer’s drone video gives a rare birds eye view of the Flyd.

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