We survived, thanks to Simon Clark of the Drewanda!
So much can happen in a single day...My post earlier on today was very nearly my last ever!
To cut a long story short, I will just copy and paste the contents of a Skype chat message I sent out at 22.55 (UTC+1) this evening to our friend and business colleague who lives aboard his boat about half a mile away from us....
Si, I can't tell you how grateful we are for what you did for us tonight. Without you, we woud both have died of hypothermia. When you heard me shouting, I was in the water, holding onto a bit of rope that wasn't actually tied onto anything aboard properly, hoping to God it wouldn't come away in my hand and force me to have to tread water any more than I was already doing.
Robbie had fallen from the dinghy as he was trying to get aboard with those stupid Chelsea boots of his on (a present from his daughter, so he puts up with the impracticality) and the dinghy slipped out of his reach. He seemed to be trying to get it and then he suddenly went floppy and all that was left showing above the surface was the middle of his back.
It didn't take long to realize that he must be unconscious so I jumped in (hell this water is cold at this time of year!) and swam to him, as best I could with all my thick clothing on (but nothing at all on my feet) and managed to yank his head out of the water, stick my arms around him and jerk my hands together as though he were choking and I was doing that technique that begins with H and I can never recall the name of.
He started to splutter and I tried to get him to kick his feet and help me get him to the boat, and the other dinghy, tied on the back, but he was almost a dead weight, except when he was trying to drag me in the wrong direction for a few seconds when he suddenly realized that I was seriously scared and started flailing around but couldn't control his limbs because of the cold.
We got as far as the side of the boat and held onto the rope but it wouldn't have taken my weight if I had been in any condition to climb it and I held it with one hand and kept Robbie's mouth above the water with the other and we rested for a few minutes. Then he set off towards the dinghy on the back but he couldn't get into it so I started shouting, against the wind: Robbie... grab... the...painter... and... try... to... haul.. yourself... over... the... bow... Follwed by HELP!!! at the top of my lungs. Eventually, he managed to get into the dinghy and then started calling me to join him and it took me ages to get there against the wind and with my limbs all heavy and unwilling to co-operate.
Somehow, we managed between us to get me into the dinghy and I lay on the floor for a couple of minutes, face down and unable to organize my movements, until Robbie helped me to get into his arms and cuddle up close. Having shouted for help at full volume 50 times, I didn't think I could manage any more shouting and hoped that someone might see the dinghy and wonder where Robbie was, although I didn't think it very likely in the dark...
Another half hour like that and we would both have died of hypothermia so you and your friends literally saved our lives. Robbie wants you to come and have supper with us tommorrow night and so do I. Please say you'll come and your friends are invited too. They were so kind.
Thank you so much for caring enough about somebody (you didn't know it was a friend of yours) shouting for help from far away to turn back and take action. So many people would have just thought "Oh, somebody will deal with it, I'm busy" and you didn't. There's a special place reserved for you in heaven and I hope you will find that heaven on this Earth and not have to wait until you die to claim your reward for being such a wonderful guy. No wonder Sarah is so much in love with you. She has the sense to see what really matters in a man and that you have all those qualities. Anyway, sleep well and I'll talk to you in the morning. Good night our new hero!