Jet ski Romeo says he made Irish Sea dash did it for 'true love'

‘Everyone was breaking the rules for terrible reasons… but I did it for LOVE’: Jet ski Romeo says he made Irish Sea dash to see girlfriend after request for legal crossing was refused by officials

  • Dale Mclaughlan, 28, spent £6,000 on perilous 27-mile journey across Irish Sea 
  • He was arrested two days later and jailed due to the island’s strict Covid rules 
  • Said he had ‘pleaded’ with officials to be allowed to cross legally on the ferry  

A lovesick Romeo who was jailed for Jet-Skiing to the Isle of Man to see his girlfriend today said he willingly risked his life and broke Covid rules ‘for the woman I love’ after his request for a legal crossing was turned down. 

Dale Mclaughlan, 28, spent £6,000 on the perilous 27-mile journey across the Irish Sea in rough conditions to reunite with Jessica Radcliffe, 30 – despite only meeting her weeks earlier.

The father-of-two made it from Scotland to the Isle of Man but was arrested two days later as strict Covid rules do not allow non-residents to visit unless they have permission.

Dale Mclaughlan, 28, spent £6,000 on the perilous 27-mile journey across the Irish Sea in rough conditions to reunite with Jessica Radcliffe, 30 – despite only meeting her weeks earlier

The journey was the first time McLaughlan (pictured during the journey) had ever ridden a Jet Ski – and he thought it would only take 45 minutes

Mr Mclaughan – who cannot swim and had never used a Jet Ski before – told Good Morning Britain today: ‘I applied to go legally, they said no.

‘I pleaded with them, told them I would do anything required of me, whether that was an extended isolation or a Covid test.

‘I didn’t even get a reply in an email, and in that point I decided I had to take matters into my own hands.

‘Everyone else was breaking the rules for terrible reasons – drinking and partying. I wanted to do it for the person I love.’

Mr Mclaughlan met Ms Radcliffe at a pub in September and found her ‘beautiful and amazing’.

He continued: ‘Then when I got to talk to her I realised her personality is just phenomenal, she’s always got something funny to say and keeps me on my toes.

‘A couple of days later we met again and decided to spend the rest of the week together to get to know each other.

‘Then on that Friday when I had to get the ferry was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.’

Mr McLaughlan, 28, (pictured) after he was released from jail following his arrest for breaking Covid rules

Also appearing on GMB Ms Radcliffe said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the gesture – but did not find out her lover had travelled by Jet Ski until being informed by the police.

‘I thought what was so special about me that you’d cross the Irish Sea and put your life in danger,’ she said.

‘I thought he was coming over on the boat. I didn’t know any of the Jet Ski stuff until the Monday when the police told me everything that had happened.

‘I felt in disbelief, I couldn’t believe it. I thought there must have been a mistake.’

Asked if their relationship would continue despite Mr Mclaughlan now being banned from the Isle of Man – forcing them to spend lockdown apart, she said: ‘Absolutely, how can I deny someone coming across the Jet Ski on the Irish Sea.

‘I’ve just got to hold on don’t I?’

In an earlier interview, Mr Mclaughan described the terror-filled crossing from the southern tip of Scotland.

After losing his GPS early on and veering off course, he said he felt like a ‘crappy James Bond’ as he held on for dear life while being battered by huge waves for four-and-a-half hours.

Mr McLaughlan made the 25-mile journey from Scotland to the Isle of Man to visit his girlfriend Ms Radcliffe (pictured together) last month

Yet he told how turning round was ‘never an option’ as he was spurred on listening to power ballads including, fittingly, ‘Love Is All Around’ by Wet, Wet, Wet.

When he finally got to shore – with his fuel flight showing empty – he realised he was in the wrong town and had to trek a further 15 miles on foot to his girlfriend’s home.

Admitting the trip was ‘crazy’, the roofer from Irvine in Ayrshire says he now has plans to marry mother-of-two Miss Radcliffe

He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘I wouldn’t say I regret it, but I’m sorry for whatever stress I’ve caused. I should never have done it. It could be called a crime of passion.’

McLaughlan said he thought of mother-of-two Ms Radcliffe (pictured) – who he met on a night out in September – to keep him going

The pair met in a pub while he was working on the island in September and enjoyed a romantic week together before he left at the start of October when his work permit expired.

He said: ‘The minute I got on that ferry I knew I was making one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I had to find a way back.

‘I told Jessica within a week of knowing her, ‘I actually think I love you’.. She said, ‘I know, it’s crazy isn’t it’?’

Rules on the island during the pandemic stipulate that non-residents need permission to visit. Breaching such rules a fine of up to £10,000 or even up to three months in jail.

Mr Mclaughlan said he had applied for a permit on compassionate grounds but was refused.

Undeterred, he considered paying a fisherman to smuggle him over but changed his mind after hearing about a boy who would Jet Ski over for the island’s annual TT races.

Overall he spent £5,500 on the vehicle, £100 on a GPS, and £370 for a dry suit and a dry bag to carry her Christmas presents, which included a watch and a coat.

After receiving a negative Covid result, he set off at 5am on December 11 on what he assumed would be a 45 minute journey.

But with rain lashing down and the waves much higher than expected, he soon ran in to trouble when a ‘massive wave’ threw his GPS overboard.

This map shows the 25-mile trip McLaughlan made from Scotland to the Isle of Man last month

Admitting he didn’t have a clue where he was going, he said: ‘After two hours I thought, where the bloody hell am I? I couldn’t see a thing. It was foggy, raining, 6ft waves were hitting me.

‘I thought I was lost at sea. I was scared. It was about two degrees but with water and the wind it felt a lot colder.

‘My hands were numb, my forearms aching. My shoulders were in pain for days from clinging on. The water knocked me all over.

‘One minute I was staring at the sky going up a 6ft wave and the next I was staring down into the abyss. The water was black and was getting in my eyes and mouth.

‘But the thought of Jessica kept me driving on.’

Miss Radcliffe, who had no idea he was on his way to her house in Douglas, told how he gave her the ‘biggest hug ever’ when he finally arrived hours later.

She said: ‘He was so nervous he couldn’t talk. I said ‘calm down’! I was just so glad I’d got to see him again.’

Police arrested him two days later after, unbeknown to him, a local had been photographed him arriving.

On December 14 he was jailed for four weeks for arriving on the island unlawfully – but was released in time to get home for Christmas.

Mr McLaughlan, pictured, was jailed for four weeks after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island to see his sweetheart

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