I was an adventurer at age seven or eight

News reports last week hailed a female engineer who made a paper boat and sailed it across a lake in England. Sorry to puncture her boat, so to speak, but I beat her to it sixty years ago.

News reports last week hailed a female engineer who made a paper boat and sailed it across a lake in England. Sorry to puncture her boat, so to speak, but I beat her to it sixty years ago.

I didn’t sail in a paper boat on an English lake but I crossed the River Bann in one, to the extreme annoyance of my parents when they discovered what I’d done.

Engineer Morwenna Wilson, 32, a direct descendant of Isambard Kingdom Brunel built and sailed in her 3.7 metre-long, 100kg vessel, made from 100 metres of paper and held together by sticky tape and glue on the lake to encourage more young people to take up engineering.

“I really want to show young people that this career can open doors to amazing opportunities and adventures,” Ms Wilson said. Morwenna’s boat looked like a gondola in Venice; far larger than ‘my’ tiny craft. I notice she wore a life-jacket on her maiden voyage. Pah!

I had no life jacket and the Bann is far more dangerous. I couldn’t even swim. I was seven or eight at the time. An older boy, something of a clever ‘nerd,’ with help from my older brother had built a paper canoe. I was smaller and lighter and so was selected to test captain the craft on her maiden voyage from the bottom of my parent’s garden. I’m still here to tell the tale!

Unlike Ms Wilson I’m encouraging young people NOT to take up the challenge.