Yachting Monthly|Summer 2020

Hamish Southby-Tailyour and his young family find themselves caught up in a grisly crime whilst meandering through France’s picturesque inland waterways on the way to the Mediterranean
Hamish Southby-Tailyour

I was on deck, alone, when I spotted something interesting and detoured towards it. A hundred yards away I was suspicious and at 50 yards the view in the binoculars was unfolding fast. Despite misgivings about our everyday school French, we managed to get the fundamentals across to the

Gendarmerie and within the hour a fireman and diver in their fast response boat, blue lights flashing, were bearing down on us. We directed them to the body some 30 yards away and after an inspection returned to state the obvious – this needed the police. On giving our details we were relieved of our duties and once again were on our way up the Seine, taking with us some very tumultuous thoughts. However, we were pleased that, given the unbelievable chances, we had found the most important piece of evidence in a horrible crime, giving some hypothetical hope to justice and closure to any family involved.


Our experience in Mericourt was perhaps the strangest during our five-month adventure through Western Europe aboard our Moody 33 Mk 2, Equinox. My wife Clara and I had wanted to give our children, Jacob, 13, and Heather, 10, an experience of an extended sail having had a successful two week cruise in well-known Cornish homewaters. We planned to leave Plymouth and cruise through France’s inland waterways to the Mediterranean and then on to Corsica, the Balearics, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain, with options to adapt the plan at any stage.

We joined the Seine at Le Havre and were blessed with perfect weather. Crisp multitudes of green from trees and hills in spring, with mottled mirrored symmetry from the gently undulating banks running up ahead and falling behind, creating a narrow, sky reflecting, watery path beckoning us onward around the succeeding meander. Taking the occasional route off the main channel provided us with views of some of the most romantically enchanting riverside retreats and micro landscapes I have ever seen. Blissful days at Rouen, Poses, Vernon and RueilMalmaison followed, blighted only by an interview with two detectives from the murder squad where we hopefully excluded ourselves from the suspects’ list.


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Summer 2020