Man on trip of lifetime ends up with nothing but shirt on back after disaster

A man on the trip of a lifetime was left with nothing but the shirt on his back after a horror disaster sunk his boat.

Mark Cornell, 64, had been navigating the open ocean and had his heart set on life in Indonesia before bad weather burst the dream.

His 15-metre yacht was capsized on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, taking with it irreplaceable photos, thousands of pounds worth of equipment and almost everything Mr Cornell owned.

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Mark and his crew were left with no other choice but to abandon ship, with everything but the shirt on his back and an urn containing his daughter.

A GoFundMe has since been set up by Mark's pal Russel Leishman after the 64-year-old was left with nothing but a shirt and the remains of his daughter, who passed in 2013.

Mr Cornell had been preparing for the journey of a lifetime for nearly a year, selling his home and moving into the now sunken vessel as he prepared it for voyage over three years.

A mission to Indonesia, where Mark had run a dive shop before the Covid-19 pandemic, was the 64-year-old's goal, but it appears to have been sunk alongside his home, reported.

Setting off in October 2022, Mr Cornell had been held up in Cairns for six months due to bad weather, and left on what was meant to be the final leg of the journey just three weeks ago.

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His ship, the Escapee, was left with sail issues which prompted Mark to turn the motor on, which shut off due to contaminated fuel just a few miles later.

Hoping to fix his streak of bad luck the following morning, the sailor was given no chance to rectify his situation as the anchor threw down further than anticipated, causing a swell which eventually sunk the ship.

Mr Cornell said: "That’s when I called the mayday, we were going to be in a lot of trouble in a few hours. The tide was running out and we were bashing the concrete hull on the bottom."

Although adamant on staying aboard the boat until a helicopter arrived, the "ramifications could be deadly" and so the decision was made to abandon ship.

A young couple rescued the crew, who were taken back to Cairns where Mark is now assessing his situation.

"Everything I owned was on the boat. That was my house. Three years of work – gone," he said, before adding the "adrenalin" of his situation had not yet worn off.

He added: "I’m just starting to come down off the adrenaline, but I’m alive, that’s the first thing, and nobody got seriously injured."

Mark now plans to "get up, shake it off, and get going again".

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