Mark Wilkinson with his Titanic II sinking at West Bay in Dorset
When Mark Wilkinson took ownership of a cabin cruiser called Titanic II, perhaps he should have realised the omens were not good.
When he took his new 16ft boat out for its maiden voyage, it lived up to its namesake, and sank.
Mr Wilkinson was left floundering as the vessel sprang a leak and began taking on water before disappearing beneath the waves.
Holidaymakers looked on while Mr Wilkinson, from Birmingham, was pulled out of the sea by the local harbour master.
Titanic II was was later towed out of West Bay harbour in Dorset.
Mr Wilkinson, aged in his 40s, said afterwards: “If it wasn’t for the harbour master I would have gone down with the Titanic.
“It’s all a bit embarrassing and I got pretty fed up with people asking me if I had hit an iceberg.”
He had recently taken ownership of the second hand boat and towed it from his home to the south coast for its first outing.
He enjoyed a successful fishing trip in Lyme Bay but as the boat entered the harbour a large hole opened up in the fibre-glass hull.
He tried to pump the water out but was forced to abandoned ship when the boat sunk stern first.
Margaret O’Callaghan, 63, was one of dozens of tourists on the quayside who witnessed the sinking.
She said: “The guy was in a small cruiser on his own. Someone said to me, ‘that boat is sinking.’
“There was a big guy desperately holding on to the wheel and the back of the boat was going down.
“I shouted at him to jump as the back of the boat went right down and the bow was sticking out of the water.
“He clung on to the nose and the tide took the boat in. Someone threw a rope and tied it up to the side.
“The harbourmaster came out in a RIB and managed to secure it and get it on to the slipway.
“The funny thing about it was that the name of the boat was Titanic II.
“The guy seemed fine. He got out and was standing on the side dripping wet.”
One eye-witness said: “It wasn’t a very big boat – I think an ice-cube could have sunk it!”