Susan Mills – A Tribute

April 29, 2013
Susan Mills  10th December 1956 - 9th April 2013

Susan Mills
10th December 1956 – 9th April 2013


We only knew Susan for too short a time; we met her and Andy in Italy, and then again on Corfu, spent the following summer cruising together in Greece and planned to spend the winter together in Messolonghi. Then Susan was diagnosed as having a brain tumour and we never got to welcome her back on board “Rampage” again. But in that time she touched our lives as few people outside of our family ever have.

Since her death a couple of weeks ago, both J and I have tried to think why it was that this random stranger, her illness and death have had such a profound impact on us. It is very difficult to pin down, if not impossible, but I feel it’s worth making the effort to do so and to share it with our readers.

Susan and Andy – you really can’t think of one without the other – were very much like us in many ways. After Andy’s working life in the police, they were living their dream by doing as we were doing and sailing off to who knew where. We both found their company relaxing and enjoyable and spent a lot of time together as we bimbled round the Greek coast.

Susan’s cheerful attitude to life was infectious, even to the extent of getting up with us at a seriously early hour to go walking round the island of Kastos before it got too hot. There was something in her approach to things that just made life in her company feel better than if she wasn’t there. It didn’t matter if it was coping with a gusty day’s sailing, or the drunk masquerading as the harbour master in Galaxidi or wandering round the ruins of Olympia. Susan would be there, grinning at Andy as he said something or did something that she found amusing.

Search as I might, I cannot find a single thing to put my finger on and say; that’s what Susan meant to us. I think it was the sum of things about her that made it work; the way she could bring Andy and I down from some flight of fancy with a simple ‘Don’t be daft’, all without making us feel the right prats we probably were. The way in which a simple glance between her and Andy made sure that they were both singing of the same sheet of music. There was her enormous generosity and her devotion to her daughters and grandchildren. She and J gelled immediately, both loving the life we’ve chosen but missing their families at the same time. I could go on for a long time but I won’t; I think you get the idea now.

We were in Messolonghi when we heard the news about her tumour. She and Andy had gone home to the UK for Christmas in Carlisle with their girls. Their boat, “Curly Sue” was berthed next to ours and we were expecting them to join us for a meal their first night back. Andy’s email announcing that they were not going to return hit us both like a body blow. We couldn’t take it in. It was only a few weeks since they had arrived in Messolonghi on a very blusterous day, both wearing life jackets and a bit damp round the edges but cheerful and happy to be safe and sound in their winter quarters. None of us had any suspicion that there was anything wrong – but from what we understand, that is the way with brain tumours. Too often there are no symptoms until too late.

There are many stories about Susan which show the grit and determination of her personality. One which will remain with us was the way she insisted on going down to the street in her wheelchair so she could soak up all the atmosphere of the Olympic Torch Relay, rather than taking the easy option of watching it all from the balcony of their flat.

There is a Susan-shaped hole in our lives now; we will miss her and remember her.



  1. X

  2. Lovely xx

  3. I’m so very sorry to hear this news. I know how much you both loved Susan. Lots of love to you, and to all Andy and Susan’s nautical pals who follow the Rampage blog. Well done, Andy and Sue, for seizing the moment and following your dream to sail away. Such rich and happy memories for Andy to look back on, and so many friendships made during your happy sailing days.
    Kath xxx

  4. Thank you for posting this entry. I know many in the liveaboard community have been concerned about Susan. We met her and Andy a couple of times in the Ionian and remember them both with affection. So, so sorry to hear this news and really feel for Andy. Please pass on our condolences when you see him. Kind regards Neil and Cathy Lamputt (Seren Mor).

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