Shock over "eccentric" millionnairess' sea disappearance
FRIENDS of missing millionairess Ona 'Mary' Unwin have spoken of their shock at her disappearance and suspected death.
The former Tewkesbury resident, who used to live at nine-bedroom Longdon Hall, has not been seen since setting sail in her yacht from Cornwall on October 13.
It is believed the 65-year-old was trying to sail from Mousehole, on the south coast, around Land's End to get to her new home in North Devon.
Flotsam has since washed up on several Cornish beaches, including fragments of a wood-panelled sailing boat and a plate bearing the vessel's registration number.
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Her body has not been found but coastguards have called off the search, saying there is little chance she could have survived.
Friends of Mrs Unwin, and her husband Carol, 61, remember the couple from their time living near the Gloucestershire border, in Upton-upon-Severn.
Retired special constable Colin Smith, 56, who lives in the riverside town, said: "I remember them both from their time living here and used to see Carol in the pub for a drink sometimes.
"She used to keep herself to herself, but Carol was well known and well liked around here.
"It's very sad to hear about Mary going missing. People around here have been talking about it and obviously it doesn't look good for her.
"You never know, but if the worst has happened, as everyone seems to think, then I'm very sorry. It's a sad end."
It is thought Mrs Unwin only bought the £32,000 boat a few days before the doomed voyage.
She had told friends she was determined to sail to her new home, near Appledore, despite warnings from Cornish sailors she would not be able to handle the journey.
Disturbingly, it appears that there were no navigation charts on the boat, no safety equipment, and that Mrs Unwin was not even wearing a life jacket when she set sail.
She had claimed the boat was her "new holiday home", telling a pair of fishermen who tried to stop her it was "just like driving a car".
Those who know Cornish waters believe the boat went down in an area known as Longships, near Land's End, where treacherous granite rocks are notorious among even seasoned sailors.
The mum-of-four and grandmother had just remarried Carol. They married originally in 2002, but divorced seven years later.
Her friends have paid tribute to her 'larger-than-life' personality.
Sarah-Louise Sim said: "She wouldn't take advice from anybody. If she was going to go, she was going to go.
"She's one of life's eccentrics – as mad as a box of frogs but absolutely wonderful."