Friday, November 20, 2009


When Shane Acton began his circumnavigation, he could have had little idea as to what he would finally achieve. Eight years to the day, after setting off from Cambridge, England, aboard ‘Super Shrimp’, he returned there, on Saturday, 19th August, 1972 having sailed around the world. Prior to embarking on his global adventure, Shane had received a thorough training in the handling of small motorized craft when he served in the Royal Marines. After leaving the Marines he sought adventure; first roaming America before exploring Europe. Restless, and home again, his wanderlust led him to buy an inland cruiser, for exploring the rivers and canals of England, but this did not satisfy his inner craving to see and experience other countries of the world; therefore he sold his boat and bought a ‘Caprice MK 1’. She was an 18’ 4” plywood sailing boat built by C.E. Clark Limited of Hayling Island.

Twenty five years old, and with very little money, he abandoned the rat race to become a roaming gypsy of the sea. Sixty miles from Cambridge, beyond Kings Lynn, ‘Shrimpy’ entered the salty waters of the Wash, and for the fist time Shane rigged his boat and hoisted her sails. Never having sailed a yacht before, he somehow managed to reach his first port of call, Wells-next-the-Sea. This ability of being able to quickly adapt to new situations was a key to his success, and the pattern he established of short-hop coastal cruising as far as Falmouth was repeated throughout his circumnavigation, with the exception of the crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which were coupled with short passages between islands. A contributory factor of Shane’s success was his patience at waiting for the right season, to avoid hurricanes and to take advantage of seasonal weather systems. Shane spent time exploring the countries he visited and shared approximately half of his 30,000 mile circumnavigation with his Swiss companion, Iris Derungs, whom he met in Panama. She sailed with him from Panama to Bali and joined him again at the Greek island of Symi, North of Rhodes, and together they visited 15 Mediterranean islands before passing through the French canals to the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel and home to Cambridge.


Shane crossed the Atlantic to the Panama Canal, then the Pacific to Brisbane, Australia. From there he sailed along the north coast of Australia to the Indian Ocean, visiting Sri Lanka. He continued to the Red Sea, which was the most challenging leg to the Suez Canal because of contrary winds and damage to his boat. After being towed through the Suez Canal, he and Iris enjoyed a leisurely cruise of the Mediterranean before making it home to Cambridge. If you can get hold of his book, ‘Shrimpy’, you’ll find it’s a gripping and fast-moving story with loads of adventures. Shane sailed ‘Shrimpy’ again as far as the Caribbean, and wrote another book, ‘Shrimpy Sails Again: From Cambridge to the Caribbean in an Eighteen-foot Yacht’. Sadly he died at the age of 55 from lung cancer.

Details of ‘Shrimpy’

Name of yacht: ‘Super Shrimp’.

Registered: London 358661.

Design: Sloop, Caprice, Mk 1.

Sail no: C159.

Designer: Robert Tucker.

Builder: C.E. Clark (at Cowes 1962).

Reg tonnage: 2.10.

Length: 18 feet 4 inches.

Bream: 6 feet 2 inches.

Draught: 1 foot 8 inches.

Construction: Plywood.

Ballast: 250 lb in each keel.

Sails: 1 main, 1 jib, 1 Genoa, 1 running sail.

Provisions: 120 man-days.

Emergency equipment: Flares (red, orange, white) plastic 2-man dinghy and paddles.


PDF Download of ‘Shrimpy’ by Shane Acton


Nicholforest said...

Nice to see these comments about Shane - or 'Acker' as I knew him.

We both joined the Royal Marines as teenagers, were based at the Amphibious Warfare Centre in Dorset and became close friends serving together in the RM detachment aboard HMS Striker.

He left the Marines several years before I did and we lost touch - he was a lovely guy.

Nicholas Moore

Unknown said...

Glad Shane is still remembered! I am his sister and have many scrapbooks of him and letters he sent from all over the world. Debbie

Unknown said...

Debbie Shane has been my sailing hero since the 80's I am, I think, now on my 5th or 6th copy Shrimpy. My biggest regret was never getting to meet him & say thank you for the inspiration he was to a wild wayward teenager.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know what happened to Iris?

Casual observer said...

I owned a Caprice in the 80s and as a member of the Owners' Association, heard of his return. Also I was a reporter for the Daily Mail and was able to bag an "exclusive" when he turned up at what should have been the East Coast Meet (everyone else was delayed by gales). He was a lovely guy - utterly modest. He did smoke too much, though...

Unknown said...

Debbie you are all the richer for having a brother such as Shane. An amazing traveller. I have read his books numerous times and am always in awe of what he achieved. Some day I want to visit Shrimpy and see her for myself first hand.
Keep Safe
Pete Townsend Ireland