It made a good story. Portsmouth greengrocer Alec Rose sails around the world single handed in his own boat. Ha Ha. The little man, the amateur, the greengrocer had Titfield Thunderbolt style dun good just like in an Ealing comedy and dun it all despite being a greengrocer. Well done that man.
As ever the truth is more complex. Alec Rose had earned a living as a greengrocer in Portsmouth but he had also been in the Royal Navy in the Second World War and was an experienced yachtsman having already sailed single handed across the Atlantic. So when he set out for his solo round the world voyage aboard his yacht Lively Lady in July 1967, he knew all about boat handling, sailing and ocean navigation. Some greengrocer.
The trip took a year and ended with his arrival back at Portsmouth on Thursday 4th July 1968 accompanied by a welcoming flotilla of small craft including the paddle steamer Ryde which had advertised a special cruise from Clarence Pier Southsea to meet him.
Ryde steamed out towards her Class IV Passenger Certificate limit off Bembridge and followed the great man and all the other little boats back towards Portsmouth Harbour. Ryde’s master was prudent not wishing to get caught up in the middle of this flotilla and so kept his distance, also stopping briefly on the way to drop the ship’s ash overboard. This did not go down well with some of the passengers who were eager to get a good view of all the action and who were irritated to see the Blue Funnel passenger boats and the Gosport ferry right in the thick of it and all getting excellent close ups. Some passengers were vociferous in their complaints about this and when Ryde was unable to call at Clarence Pier, Southsea to unload on the return leg due to all the congestion and took everyone back to Portsmouth Harbour station to disembark instead, some refused to go ashore demanding to have it out with the captain.
Sir Alec Rose was knighted and made a Freeman of the City of Portsmouth in the same year for his efforts He died in 1991 aged 82.
Lively Lady is still around and is based at Port Solent.
Ryde is also still with us today although now in derelict condition at Binfield on the Isle of Wight. But for how much longer?