A FORMER U2 tour manager yesterday told how he feared for his life just once before being rescued after 52 days alone at sea.
Exhausted Pete Currier swapped working gigs with Prince, UB40 and Nirvana to sail the 6,500km from the Carribean to Wales — but found himself in dire straits when his engine blew just three weeks into the voyage.
The 68-year-old was forced to continue the trip from the island of Carriacou, in Grenada, by sail — and called on his decades of hard work in rock ‘n’ roll to get him through a horror 68kph storm.
Relieved Pete was then picked up off Kinsale, Co Cork by the RNLI on Saturday evening where his son, Piers Currier, and two daughters, Cara and Shia Tremayne, were waiting for him.
He yesterday told the Irish Sun: “There was just one time when I feared for my life during a force eight storm as I feared the boat might disintegrate in the storm.
“But the Sea Symphony struggled on through it and I survived. But I never worried about anything in my life so the dangers did not cause me major upset.”
His 51-foot vessel was in Irish waters on Saturday morning, labouring under damaged sails.
And by the time the alarm was raised with the Irish Coast Guard, the boat was travelling at three knots — or 5.5km — per hour.
Kinsale RNLI volunteers tracked the Sea Symphony throughout the day online and grew increasingly concerned for its safety.
Its inshore lifeboat, Miss Sally Anne Baggy II — Never Fear, Baggy’s Here, launched at 6pm to help Pete and they located the yacht off the Old Head of Kinsale.
Lifeboat helm Jonathan Connor placed crew member Felix Milner onboard Pete’s boat and guided it the nearest safe port.
And Felix remained on the Sea Symphony for the final leg of the journey to Kinsale Harbour to look after the music veteran, who was exhausted but uninjured.
After arriving into Kinsale at 9.15pm, Pete was able to scrub himself clean with his first hot shower in seven weeks before a family reunion with his three kids, who live in West Cork.
Grateful Pete said: “Volunteers at Kinsale RNLI are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Their expertise and commitment leave me humbled.
“It is an institution I have always supported and will do so for the rest of my days.”
And he said of his rescuers: “They took me to the lifeboat station for a hot shower, told me repeatedly what a lovely boat and even offered to take my laundry home and wash it for me.”
INJURY ON TOUR
Pete, a live events production manager, worked with U2 on their world tour until he was involved in an accident when sound equipment toppled over and injured him.
It left him unable to work and he was on crutches for about nine months having damaged his back.
So Pete moved back to the UK to spend time with his mum, who sadly passed away in May 2019.
He used “the bit of money” he inherited to buy the Sea Symphony in January 2020, which he hoped could be his new home and provide him with a new start in life.
He said: “She is a beautiful boat and deserves to be sailing again so I bought her and have spent all my time rebuilding and repairing her.”
During the pandemic, Pete spent a year with one of his daughters in Cork and was delighted that he was able to spend time with his other kids.
He said: “I couldn’t get back to Grenada because just two days before I was due to fly back the country shut down.
“My daughter said ‘come spend some time with me’ — and I was delighted as I hadn’t spent time with her since she was a teenager.”
The family moved to Ireland in 1991, because his wife, from whom he is divorced, wanted to bring up the children in her mum’s homeland.
Pete said: “All the kids were born in the UK but their mum wanted to move to Ireland and I was touring almost non-stop so it made sense.”
As soon as flights to Grenada opened up, he went back to the sunny island and his boat, which can sleep eight.
Pete said people have said he was mad to put so much time and effort into the yacht.
‘WORTH THE CHANCE’
But the Birmingham native added: “You take your chances in life and this is worth the chance.”
He has spent over a year trying to save the Sea Symphony, which had been left to rot after being brought to Grenada in 2017. An invasion of termites ate one of the masts and a lot of the interior.
But after getting it back up to scratch, Pete planned to bring it over to Britain.
He explained: “With all the changes Covid-19 has brought, it’s a whole new world. I was hoping to sail south and across the South Atlantic to the UK as most of my possessions are still there.”
Following a short stop off in Kinsale he planned to go to Wales, the South of France and then onto India where he had a work gig organised. However, the Indian event has been postponed indefinitely again because of Covid.
REPAIRS BEFORE SAILING
He is now faced with repairing five of the six sails on board as well as repairs to the engine and winches before he can sail from the Cork town to the UK.
Speaking after the rescue, Kinsale RNLI helm Jonathan Connor said: “It is a tribute to the sailor’s seamanship that he made a 6,500km voyage single-handed and remained calm and focused despite the many problems he encountered in the course of his journey.
“He is very fit and able but was clearly exhausted after 52 days alone at sea.
“We were glad to help him over the final hurdle and bring him safely to Kinsale.”
Meanwhile, Pete has told of his time with U2, revealing that his favourite member of the band was The Edge who was a gentleman “and a nice guy.”
He added: “I worked most of my life with bands, designed and operated lighting for loads of bands and festivals including Glastonbury main stage, Pop Rock Festival and lots of others. I did loads of festivals over the years and toured with famous bands.”
When he left U2 he worked on a tour with Michael Jackson. But nowadays Pete picks and chooses what he wants to do.
Speaking about the good old days working with bands and at gigs, he said: “When I was young it was a good laugh.
“It started paling in the Eighties and by the Nineties it became a business. You were basically friends with people through the Sixties up to the Nineties, when it was like being in a family.
“By the Nineties you were just a face and people didn’t want to know each other anymore. It was quite pathetic.”
He added: “I do quite a lot of holograms nowadays.
“I love technology, absolutely love it. Technology is finally catching up with my imagination.
“I am always trying to push the boundaries with stuff, which is so exciting.”
Pete has set up a Gofundme page to help get the Sea Symphony back to her former glory and “once again sailing the oceans of the world.”
He tells prospective donors: “To my mind she is a work of art and I am privileged to work on renovating her.”
After his dramatic rescue he plans to donate ten per cent of donations to the RNLI. See gofundme.com/f/sea-symphony.