On Tuesday, 12 September, in his hometown of Plymouth in the county of Devon, England, Steve Dawes lost his battle against cancer and, with his sister Annie and both brothers Roger and Jem at his bedside, he died peacefully at St Luke’s Hospice, where he had been spending the last five weeks of his life.
After a lifetime of travel and exploration, Steve died within sight of the street on which he had been born 53 years earlier.
St Luke’s is situated on a promontory looking back over the whole of the City of Plymouth and its magnificent natural harbor. Steve had been born in one of the few remaining houses in the town’s center that had been left standing after the terrible destruction of WWII.
Plymouth is renowned worldwide for its naval and maritime history, and Steve’s love of the sea followed in the wake of Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and, of course, the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower.
Charles Darwin famously sailed from Plymouth on HMS Beagle to South America, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti and Australia. And modern day hero, Sir Francis Chichester, departed from and returned to Plymouth for his record-breaking single-handed circumnavigation on Gipsy Moth IV.
From modest beginnings sailing around the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Steve began sailing further afield — the Channel Islands, France, Portugal.
Then, in 1987, he set out with a friend and their cat (!) on a catamaran to take part in the Bacardi Rum Race. After impatiently waiting in Falmouth harbor for the right weather conditions, they set sail for the Canary Islands and then finally crossed the Atlantic to Bermuda.
The plan had been to celebrate Christmas Day on the beach, but they arrived on Boxing Day!
However, all three had landed safely and Steve went on to explore the Caribbean and South America. Eventually he met up with his soulmate, Lori. Spotting her in a waterside bar, he said to himself, “That’s my wife!” — and sure enough, not long after, they were married on board their own boat, moored in Coral Bay, St. John.
Steve and Lori became invaluable members of the Coral Bay community weathering several hurricanes, participating in innumerable charity events, sailing just about every Thanksgiving Regatta and Commodore of the Yacht Club — and winning quite a few as well.
Tragically, Lori died very suddenly in September 2003. Steve was diagnosed with prostate cancer one year later, when the disease had already spread throughout his bones.
The prognosis was not good but Steve remained cheerful throughout all his trips to England for courses of treatment, stayed positive and never lost hope. He will always be remembered for his relaxed and sunny nature, his belief that everything will always work out fine and, above all, his easy smile.