GRANDFATHER Bill Simpson is celebrating a milestone after sailing across an ocean at the age of 76.
Bill was proud of his achievement after he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from the island of St Lucia to his hometown of Emsworth.
But it was far from plain sailing.
Bill, a retired housing maintenance manager in Leigh Park for Portsmouth City Council, battled storms and fatigue to get through the journey, which took more than 45 days.
He sailed across the 4,000-mile journey with 76-year-old pal Sergio Mauri, an experienced sailor from Barnes, West Sussex.
Explaining how the trip came about, the grandfather-of-five, of Selangor Avenue, Emsworth, said: ‘I have always wanted to visit the Azores. It’s Sergio’s boat. He goes out for a few months and sails up and down the Caribbean.
‘He decided to bring it back this year and I said I would give him a hand. It was a bit of a battle. Tiredness was the main thing.’
About the trip, Bill, who mainly lived on pasta, said: ‘We had it all.
‘We had good days, but there was one storm. It lasted about eight hours. We also managed to catch a fish.’
But Bill said he never doubted the sturdiness of the 36ft boat, Sunrise, which was made in Sweden. ‘It’s a good boat,’ he added.
When the pair got back to the Solent, there were still obstacles to overcome, including the wind and harbour tides.
Bill said: ‘It took 25 days to get to the Azores and 15 days to get back to Lymington, where we called in.
‘We were going to sail round, but it was quite rough and we were tired.
‘We had a good night’s sleep and then motored up to East Head at Chichester Harbour.
‘We waited there to get into Emsworth.’
In Emsworth, the pair were treated to a well-deserved beer when they arrived in port.
Bill said: ‘I feel like I have achieved something.’
Asked whether he might sail any more oceans, he laughed: ‘That’s the final for me!’
His wife Susan Simpson, 68, was very proud.
‘It’s a big achievement,’ said Susan. ‘It’s a big thing to sail the Atlantic.’