AN EXPERIENCED sailor who died when his boat sank during a fishing trip off the south Devon coast has been hailed for saving his friend's life.
Peter Cloke, from Ide, had been out in his 20-ft boat Petrel with an old friend when the vessel suffered a catastrophic failure last month.
Retired civil servant Peter, 74, managed to make a Mayday call just before the vessel sank which saved his friend's life – but tragically Peter became trapped in the cabin as the boat sank.
His devastated family said: ‘We are perplexed as to how Petrel, such a reliable and solid vessel, came to take on water and sink so quickly in calm conditions."
The boat had been berthed in Exmouth Marina and had been only recently serviced.
Peter had been out in the boat in the days before the tragedy on May 19 with no issues.
His body was recovered from the seabed 12 days after it sank eight miles off the coast of Torquay, south Devon.
The survivor told his family how the ingress of water was slow at first but became catastrophic very quickly, upending and sinking the boat almost instantly.
He said: ‘Peter was unable to exit the cabin of the boat before it sank. I was only rescued because Peter managed to put out a Mayday call just before the boat sank.
‘I owe him my life.’
His family – wife Sue, three grown up children and four grandchildren – said: ‘We would like to thank the emergency services and those who assisted in the search for Peter at the time his boat sank, along with those involved in the subsequent recovery of his body from the sea.
‘Alongside fishing, he loved rural life and played a big part in the community of Ide where he lived, helping establish a thriving village cricket team and Community Orchard.
‘His loss is a terrible shock to the family, his friends and the communities that he was such a big part of. He'll be sorely missed.’
Peter, who was originally from Cawsand, Cornwall, spent his working life in the education sector, latterly specialising in turning around struggling higher education facilities.
He was awarded an OBE for services to education. He had previously taught at schools at Hele's School in Exeter and in Cullompton, Devon.
Peter was an experienced fisherman and a competent and capable helmsman. He was well known in the Exmouth recreational fishing community and beyond.
Gareth Awbrey, Chair of the Exmouth Deep Sea Fishing Club, paid tribute to him.
He said: ‘Peter was a loyal and supportive member of the club. He loved his fishing and the camaraderie which went with club events and charter trips, particularly those to Guernsey and Cherbourg.
‘He will be remembered for his willingness to help others, his smile and his impressive tally of fishing trophies over the years.’
A memorial service will take place at Ide church on July 3 at 12pm.
An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned.