Robert Avis, MBY writer, dies

A technical writer and boat tester, his achievements stretched far outside the world of journalism

Capt Robert Avis JP, OBE, FRIN, RNR, who died on June 12 aged 54, spent a lifetime associated with the sea.

His love for all things nautical was only equalled by his enthusiasm to encourage others to enjoy a safe and happy life afloat.

To many, time spent with the Royal Navy Reserve – where he became Commanding Officer of HMS President, its London Headquarters – would have been enough to fulfil most ambitions.

Robert however was an exception, devoting further time to the community by becoming a Justice of the Peace.

If this was not enough he was also an RYA approved Yachtmaster examiner (Power) and an examiner for the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) where he oversaw tests for those seeking advanced seagoing qualifications. It was this latter capacity that made him a well known figure among the professional yacht charter skippers in Antibes where he arranged MCA higher endorsement exams.

Robert ran his own sea-school together with dedicated radar courses using his own radar simulator. He was also a Marine Consultant, a motorboating columnist and respected feature writer producing technical articles for MBY among other magazines, but some of his greatest achievements were probably less well known.

Working with the RNR he handled the public relations for the Military Tattoo in 2000.

The following year the Royal Yacht Squadron asked him to take on the responsibility for the temporary landing stage installed off the parade at Cowes for the America’s Cup Jubilee.
His duties here were to supervise all craft using the facility which included bringing ashore the coveted America’s Cup itself, an occasion watched by hundreds of spectators as Maori warriors walked up the gangway chanting their battle cry.
With such crowds trying to get a closer view, Robert had his work cut out preventing the landing being overloaded but it was his Royal Naval training and authority that saved the day.

He then went on to oversee RNR 100 in 2003 as Project Director, an important event celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation that was attended by members of the Royal Family, several leading figures of the Admiralty and long serving members of the Royal Navy. His dedication here saw him awarded the OBE.

Perhaps his greatest achievement was being given the responsibility for safety and mustering of the pleasure craft fleet attending the Solent review celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
Robert headed a team of four safety officers based aboard HMS Albine where together they controlled well over 100 craft parading past HMS Endurance from which HM the Queen took the salute.

Robert Avis died in a South London hospice after losing a brave fight against cancer, his funeral taking place in Croydon on June 22.

He leaves a wife Diana, together with daughter Katherine, 24, and son David, 22.


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