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I felt like one who had first betrayed and then deserted a stricken friend; a friend with whom for the past fourteen years I had spent more time at sea than on land, and who, when not at sea, had seldom been out of my thoughts.
The first of the three voyages described in In Mischief’s Wake gives H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman’s account of the final voyage and loss of Mischief, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter in which he had sailed over 100,000 miles to high latitudes in both Arctic and Antarctic waters.
Back home, refusing to accept defeat and going against the advice of his surveyor, he takes ownership of Sea Breeze, built in 1899; ‘a bit long in the tooth, but no more so, in fact a year less, than her prospective owner’. After extensive remedial work, his first attempt at departure had to be cut short when the crew ‘enjoyed a view of the Isle of Wight between two of the waterline planks’. After yet more expense, Sea Breeze made landfall in Iceland before heading north toward the East Greenland coast in good shape and well stocked with supplies. A mere forty miles from the entrance to Scoresby Sound, Tilman’s long-sought-after objective, ‘a polite mutiny’ forced him to abandon the voyage and head home.
The following year, with a crew game for all challenges, a series of adventures on the west coast of Greenland gave Tilman a voyage he considered ‘certainly the happiest’, in a boat which was proving to be a worthy successor to his beloved Mischief.
From the Foreword by Bob Shepton:
I have a tremendous admiration for the man and his achievements in somewhat cranky old boats. While I have followed his example in the Arctic for many years, I have to confess that secretly I am rather glad that I never sailed with him. But then I am also glad that one who did has put me right on that point, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and looks back on his voyages with Tilman with gratitude saying that he’d ‘never been happier in my life’. There can’t be a greater recommendation than that.
An ordained minister in his early eighties, Bob Shepton is a former Royal Marine who has sailed over 130,000 miles and made over a hundred first ascents. He received the Piolet d’Or in 2011, the Blue Water Medal in 1996, the Tilman Medal in 1998 and 2009, Yachtsman of the Year award in 2014 and the Ocean Cruising Club’s Barton Cup in 2015.
ISBN 978-1-909461-36-9; 216 x 156mm, 172 pages, photos, maps. Softcover with sewn binding, cover flaps and matt lamination.
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