The day that changed my life: Myleene Klass, 34, recalls a terrifying experience at sea that made her think again about following her father into a life on the ocean wave
22:30 GMT, 9 November 2012
My life changed forever when I survived a near-death experience along with my dear dad Oscar, a naval captain who’s retired now.
I was born in Great Yarmouth, so like my father I developed a strong connection to the sea. When I was growing up he skippered a ship called a DP – a Dynamic Positioning vessel – which was able to hold its position on a choppy sea really well and so help fishing boats in bad weather.
I was always messing about on boats with Dad as a young girl and I wanted to be a deep-sea diver when I grew up.
Myleene Klass is now scared of the ocean after her fateful day at sea
The sea was my playground back then. I remember once we went to Egypt together. There were around 50 shipmates with us and Dad would lend me his captain’s hat and then make me go out and paint the ship with them.
It was my first glimpse of the Pyramids and we’d catch lobster each day for dinner – it seemed as if half the Egyptian population were jumping on board the ship to help bring in the catch. He even taught me how to navigate the Suez Canal. It was all terribly exciting and I felt like the luckiest person alive to be doing all this with my dad.
Then one day everything changed and my love of the open water turned to fear. I was 13 and for the first time I felt the real power of the sea while out on a fishing trip in the Bay of Biscay.
We’d taken a boat out with a small crew. All we could do was 3 knots because the sea was so turbulent and the waves were crashing up against us. It was really full-on.
Myleene feels a close bond to her brave father
We’d only been out a few hours but all the crew were seasick – these were people who’d been at sea for 20 years and now they were scared for their lives, as I was. I was lying on the floor when I looked up at Dad.
As the crew were being tossed around and being ill, there he was, my proud dad bravely managing to control the boat and battle the conditions. At that moment I knew nothing bad could happen to me because he was fine. He was in charge. Totally. And I was completely reassured. I felt so close to him.
Years later I was fortunate enough to be performing at the Royal Albert Hall where I sang Eternal Father, Strong To Save, a traditional hymn that’s sung by the Royal Navy.
I’ll never forget how incredibly poignant it felt singing the last line, ‘Oh hear us when we cry to thee, For those in peril on the sea’.
I had tears in my eyes because of my dad and that unforgettable day in the Bay of Biscay when I saw how terrifying the ocean can be and realised I’d never given it the respect it deserved.
Things can change so quickly. You need to know what you’re doing – my dad always taught me that.
Myleene is an ambassador for Save The Children. Visit www.savethechildren.org.uk