Miles Clark

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The route of Miles Clark circumnavigation of Europe journey through Russian waterways.

Miles Clark (1960 – 1993) was a sailor, journalist and writer from Northern Ireland. A few months before he died, Clark circumnavigated Europe through several of Russia's waterways which led him to winning the Cruise World Medal for Outstanding Seamanship.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born Magherafelt, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland on 3 November 1960, he was the son of Wallace Clark and the godson of Miles Smeeton, themselves both distinguished yachtsmen and authors. His brother Bruce became a foreign correspondent at The Times.[3]

As a geography student at Downing College, Cambridge University, he organised an expedition to climb volcanoes and undertake scientific research in Atka, a remote island in the Aleutian archipelago. As a soldier in 1984, he was one of the oarsmen who rowed Tim Severin's replica Greek galley through the Black Sea to Georgia in the U.S.S.R.[3]

Writing[edit]

He left the army to become a full-time freelance travel writer and photographer in his mid-20s. As well, he was Features Editor of Yachting Monthly and wrote articles for other magazines.[3] His biography of Miles and Beryl Smeeton, High Endeavours was published in 1991.

Circumnavigation of Europe[edit]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Clark saw the opportunity for travelling through Russian internal waters.

With grudging permission from the KGB and sponsorship from National Geographic[4] he departed from Northern Ireland in the summer of 1992 sailing the family's 60-year-old wooden yacht Wild Goose into the Arctic Circle.

Setting out on the 3200-kilometre route, first circling Norway and entering the White Sea, he then travelled to the Black Sea crossing the White Sea - Baltic Canal until the Onega Lake, then proceeding through the Volga-Baltic waterway to the Rybinsk Reservoir and the Volga River. He then successively followed the Volga-Don Canal and the Don River to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, returning to Northern Ireland.[5][3]

Wild Goose, a 36ft yawl built in 1935, was the first non-Russian boat to make that journey. [6]

Personal life[edit]

He married Sarah Hill in 1987 and they had a son, Finn born 1990.[3]

Sudden death[edit]

Miles Clark died unexpectedly a few months after his return home, in Salisbury on April 17 1993 aged 32, from the possible effects of toxins absorbed during the trip. He was writing a book about the trip when he died. The book, Sailing Round Russia was finished by his father, based on the ship's logs.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1] "Cruising World Medal Outstanding Seamanship Awarded", Highbeam
  2. ^ [2] "Wild Goose Circles Europe" article, in Highbeam
  3. ^ a b c d e [3] The Independent, Obituary:Miles Clark, by Libby Purves
  4. ^ a b [4] "Sailing in the Wake of Vikings", Sydney Morning Herald article, by Helen Womack
  5. ^ Clark, Miles. Russian Voyage. National Geographic Magazine, June 1994. pp. 114 & 138.
  6. ^ [5] Alastair Scott crewman's CV, details.