A sailor who spent two years cruising the world on his boat has spoken openly about suffering horrific burns when a paraffin stove exploded while he was alone on his boat in the middle of the Atlantic.
Max Campbell, 27, was sailing solo and 150 miles offshore as part of a three-month voyage in 2016 when the antique hearth caught fire trying to light it.
He jumped in the water after suffering second-degree burns on 12 percent of his body — on his face, arms, torso and chest — but had no choice but to continue sailing for two days until he reached shore .
At the time his body had gone into shock and he started hallucinating; but the oceanographer now says he never believed he would die.
“It was pretty horrible, I always knew I would survive, but it was very close, I’ve never come this close to losing my life — it was a really dark time,” he said.
Max Campbell, 27, was sailing solo as part of a three-month voyage in 2016 and 150 miles offshore when the antique hearth caught fire trying to light it
Six years after the incident, Mr. Campbell has a new boat, Elixir, and plans to sail around the world this winter, via the Pacific Ocean
The Cornwall oceanographer spent seven days in hospital in Grenada on an IV while his burns were treated. Overall, it took him a year to physically recover from his injuries.
Before the accident, Mr Campbell had been sailing with his childhood friend, geologist Harry Scott, as part of a three-month adventure.
The two men left their hometown of Falmouth with ambitions to sail to France, Spain and Portugal – a total of 650 nautical miles.
Mr Campbell had bought the Flying Cloud boat for just £500 and spent his free time rebuilding it before setting sail.
After reaching Portugal, Mr. Scott decided not to go any further to spend the ski season with his girlfriend, so Mr. Campbell decided to go on alone. The explosion happened a short time later.
He suffered burns to his face, arms, chest and torso (pictured) and took a year to recover from his physical injuries. He suffered from PTSD after the incident
The Cornwall oceanographer is now planning to put to sea again and said he was “content to be at sea and sailing”.
Mr Campbell had bought the Flying Cloud boat for just £500 and spent his free time rebuilding it before setting sail. Pictured renovating the boat
He said: “It took me a year to recover, I was so hurt mentally and physically. I left my boat in the Caribbean and flew back to England.
“Luckily after about three or four months the scars healed very well and in the end it made me a stronger person. Since then, the scars have healed very well after about three to four months.”
Mr Campbell found returning to the UK particularly difficult as he struggled with PTSD, while people “kept identifying him from his traumatic experience”.
Six years after the incident, Mr. Campbell has a new boat, Elixir, and plans to sail around the world this winter, via the Pacific Ocean.
“My favorite part of traveling is the offshore side of things – it has something to do with getting away from life on land. Money, phones, cars and jobs, they all disappear when you are on these offshore passages, I feel content when I am at sea and sailing – It feels very rewarding to arrive at a new place and to sail there , feels like you deserve it,” he said.
He will be documenting his travels on his website Untide and TikTok account of the same name.
Pictured: Mr. Campbell’s original boat, the Flying Cloud. He said when he caught fire, the boat was also engulfed in flames