The sad death of Hugo Du Plessis has been announced at the age of 94. Expert yacht surveyor and author of a guide to fibreglass boat construction and maintenance, Hugo had been an Honorary member of IIMS for some years.
Highly regarded in the cruising world, Hugo was an experienced sailor. Born in 1923, he and his sister were home educated before he went on to boarding school and then to Southampton University where he studied electronics.
Hugo was just 16 when the Second World War broke out and he served with his father, Gerald, in the Boldre Platoon Home Guard.
Growing up in the English New Forest, Hampshire, in close proximity to the Beaulieu and Lymington rivers, his love of boats was born. Many happy hours were spent negotiating the low tide mudflats in various craft from a Sharpie to a canoe before he eventually purchased his first yacht, Crimson Rambler.
Between 1942 ND 1946, Hugo undertook National Service in the Fleet Air Arm as a radar technician, working on the development of microwave radar for night fighter aircraft.
Hugo’s growing interest in electronics continued after the war and he worked at Decca Navigator in Weymouth. At this time his knowledge of fibreglass as a material grew and with this his interest in writing too. He also cruised extensively in his yacht, a Bermudan sloop, visiting the Channel Islands, France, Spain and Ireland.
He met Joyce Keevil, a pharmacist from London and they married in 1952, settling in the Boldre area of Hampshire. Hugo’s two children were born, Primrose in 1962 and so Christopher the following year.
During the 1960s, Hugo and his business partner, Mick Hammick, founded the Ropewalk Boatyard in Lymington, later to become known as Lymington Yacht Haven. He further developed his knowledge of fibreglass and became a marine surveyor of repute. His first edition of Fibreglass Boats was published in 1966.
Following the death of his mother, he moved his family to Bantry Bay in West Cork, Ireland. Here he continues his work as a surveyor and established his first yacht charter business. He cruised the south west of Ireland extensively and was Commodore of Bantry Bay Sailing Club for many years.
In 1986, Hugo set out to achieve his lifelong ambition of sailing around the world. However, he got no further than the Caribbean, the beauty of which turned his head. He was to remain there living on his 36″ Westerly Conway, Samharchin, for 15 years. During this time, he continued to write for well-known magazines, including Yachting Monthly, Yachting World and Practical Boat Owner. He also updated his book Fibreglass Boats.
Hugo returned to the UK in 2001 following the death of his sister and moved into her house, remaining there until 2016 when his health took a turn for the worse and he moved to a care home.
Publishing the fifth edition of Fibreglass Boats in 2010, Hugo continued his passion for writing right up until just a few weeks before his death.
He was a life member of the Royal Cruising Club, joining in 1947 and won the Romola Cup, The Dulelbella Prize and the Founder’s Cup.
Hugo is survived by his children, Primrose and Christopher, his grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Hugo Du Plessis HonMIIMS 1923 – 2018 Rest in Peace.
Fibreglass Boats is available from Bloomsbury Publishing.