A HUGE welcome home party awaits a teenager who has sailed solo around the Britain.
Tom West was 17 when he began the 1,700-mile journey on July 2.
He is due back at Langstone Sailing Club on Saturday afternoon where his family and friends will be waiting for him.
Tom, who was at sea when he received his A-level results from Havant College and had his 18th birthday, had always dreamed of undertaking the challenge and didn’t let his tender years get in the way.
Sailability and the Even Keel Project – both charities that support sailing for disabled people – will benefit from Tom’s journey through sponsorship and donations. He said: ‘It has been an absolutely incredible adventure.
‘There have been so many highlights for me. In fact it has restored my faith in human nature.
‘Wherever I’ve gone people have been warm and friendly. They’ve come up to the boat and taken me out for meals.
‘A moment I’ll never forget is sailing through the Bristol Channel when 50-odd dolphins popped up.
‘I thought it was brilliant to spot one then more and more turned up – they obviously liked the look of me.’
There were testing times for Tom, not least when he sailed from Lowestoft to Grimsby, awake for 26 hours. Another came during a terrifying storm in Bangor, Northern Ireland when a dead seal stopped the boat.
He said: ‘I don’t get lonely because I’m always doing something. There’s always something to fix, something to work on.
‘It’s been eight weeks and it feels kind of weird to know that I’m actually on the way home now.
‘What I’m looking forward to most of all is having a hot bath and then being completely dry for the first time in months.’
For Tom’s 18th birthday his parents Sue and Gareth drove up to Scarborough to meet him.
Mrs Webb said: ‘We filled his boat with balloons and left him to sail off. It was probably a very different 18th birthday to his friends but I’m sure he’ll have a big celebration when he gets back.
‘We’re very proud of him. We’ve had a boat all his life and he has always dreamed of this.
‘As a parent you can’t help but worry but I’ve always known he was capable of doing it.’
Tom, from Hambrook, near Emsworth, will begin a degree in maritime studies at Plymouth University in a few weeks’ time.
To sponsor Tom go to tomwebbsailing.com