Yacht skipper Anthony Edwards entertains us with an insightful account of working in the dangerous environment of Thames steam tugs in the 50’s and 60’s, and tells of the momentous decisions that would change the course of his life.
However, his original intention was to write about one particular substandard and disaster-prone motor yacht that he joined in Belgium and delivered to Cannes via the Belgian and French canals. The mishaps that were endured were almost unbelievable for a brand new vessel. It all began on the first day when they left the safety of port and both rudders snapped off in the North Sea.
That summer was spent cruising the Western Mediterranean with charterers. Charterers come in many shapes and forms: perverted, demanding, terrified, selfish, and generous – but never boring. Nevertheless, the amazing thing is that none of them complained about all the misfortunes that they had to put up with.
The book is an enjoyable narrative about working on boats, but woven in there are insightful personal accounts of life and loves. From growing up in Gravesend in the 1960’s and mixing with rough tearaways whose behaviour would most likely end them up in prison – to following intuition to escape to another life and another place. Some people might question whether climbing up a cliff face in the dark or being tossed around in a storm in the Bay of Biscay could be considered the dream, but at least he was doing what he wanted to do!
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This book is free from 07/08/2018 until 07/10/2018.
About the Author
AAnthony Edwards was born in Gravesend in 1943. Early life on a council estate just after the war had its drawbacks. His father had been injured in an industrial accident and once his compensation had been spent, money was tight. You had to make your own amusements. Catching eels on the marshes, riding ponies at the nearby riding school before the owners were awake and long cycle rides on an old bike which had to be shared with his best friend – one standing pedalling and the other sitting on the seat.
At an early age he was also fascinated by and loved watching films. They were an insight into what life could be like if you didn’t live on a council estate. However, it was a simple choice. If you wanted to go to Saturday morning cinema, the best option of amassing the necessary sixpence was to have a paper round – unless, of course, you were prepared to risk the ignominy of a heavy hand on your shoulder as you were climbing through the toilet window.
Although he would amuse himself with writing and illustrating stories, Amazon had not yet been invented and the only recourse to fame and fortune, or at least the fortune, was to get a job working on the Steam tugs, which he joined when he was 15. Like all new recruits, he started as cook, but went onto working on deck until he left nearly 7 years later. The hours were long – on average 140 a week – but the pay was good. If by the end of the week you were still alive that is. In those days there was no such thing as ‘health and safety’.
There was then a Eureka moment when he saw a film clip about Prince Phillip’s yacht Bloodhound. He directed all his energies into achieving the dream of sailing. He got a job as permanent crew on an ocean racer and later qualified as a yacht skipper. New horizons beckoned. Sailing was the thing – a choice which led to a life full of adventure. There’s nothing like boating for producing challenging life and death decisions mixed with hilarious fiascos.
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