HILLYARD The Man, His Boats, and Their Sailors
Published by Lodestar Books, June 2021 RRP £20
The name Hillyard is a byword for simple, practical and affordable yachts in all sizes and for all pockets, designed for enjoyment by the whole family rather than as primarily masculine playthings. David Hillyard founded his Littlehampton yard in 1906, and it produced some eight hundred wooden boats—to his own designs—in addition to many craft for the British Admiralty during two world wars. The business continued into the twenty-first century, when timber could no longer compete with modern materials in the production yacht market. It has been said that a Hillyard – with its ample lines and modest sail area – is unlikely to drown you, though it might starve you to death! But many owners developed deep attachments to their boats, and as their families and means grew, came back for another, again and again. Some hundreds of Hillyard yachts survive, much loved, and throughout the world, to the present day.
Nicholas Gray’s book describes David Hillyard’s voyage from apprentice boatbuilder to founder of a boatbuilding dynasty, and much-loved employer in his adopted home of Littlehampton. It also recounts many voyages, both modest and world-girdling, made by Hillyard yachts, and the activities of those dedicated to maintaining and preserving these unassuming but capable craft, and the memory of the man and the yard which created them.
Sam Llewellyn, maritime author and Editor of The Marine Quarterly, writes in his Foreword: ‘David Hillyard was born in the late nineteenth century, at the height of the Big Boat era. His family were stalwarts of Rowhedge in Essex, where the aristocratic owners of the enormous cutters dicing in the Solent sent their skippers to pick their racing crews of hard-bitten fishermen. Yachts, in those days, were for the very rich, but the men who sailed them were often the reverse. Perhaps it was a consciousness of this divide that led Hillyard—a devout Christian, descended from a long line of fishermen—to build boats that were robust, practical, and within the means of those lacking the advantage of dukedoms or armaments factories.’
Published by Fernhurst Books in January 2017 RRP £9.99
With a Foreword by Sir Chay Blyth, the book recounts the lives, sailing careers and final voyages of a number of well known (and not so well known) yachtsmen who lost their lives at sea and never returned from their last voyage. The link between the sailors featured is that they were all friends of mine or were people whom I met and had came across during my life and sailing career.
The people featured include:
- Mike McMullen, who was lost in the 1974 OSTAR on his trimaran Three Cheers
- ‘Bill’ Tilman, who was lost in the South Atlantic on his 80th birthday
- Donald Crowhurst, who pretended to sail round the world and then disappeared from his trimaran Teignmouth Electron
- Two Frenchmen, Eric Tabarly, who fell and was lost from his beloved yacht Pen Duick in the Irish Sea and Alain Colas, who was lost along with his trimaran Manureva, whilst taking part in a single-handed transatlantic race
- Rob James, who was drowned as his trimaran entered Salcombe Harbour
- The Norwegian Peter Tangvald, who was lost along with his young daughter when his yacht ran on a reef in the Caribbean
- and finally, Philip Walwyn who was lost in November 2015 from his 12 Metre yacht, Kate, 10 miles from his destination of Falmouth after a single-handed transatlantic voyage from the Caribbean via Nova Scotia.
The book has been described as:‘….. an unusual and absorbing book which describes the exploits and adventure of eleven great sailors ….. a celebration of the lives and achievements of these remarkable people.’ (from a review by Nigel Woollen, past commodore of the Royal Cruising Club)
Sir Chay Blyth says in his foreword : ‘An excellent tribute to truly great sailors.’
Read more reviews in Reviews
Buy the book – available from all good booksellers and from Fernhurst Books
Also available as an eBook for Kindle on Amazon or for Apple devices from the iBooks Store
ASTRONAUTS OF CAPE HORN
Published as a Hardback and eBook by The Conrad Press on 1 September 2018 and launched at the Southampton Boat Show 2018. RRP: £16.99.
With a preface by the well-known journalist, broadcaster and yachtsman, Paul Heiney.
‘By the time twelve astronauts had landed on the moon, only eleven extraordinary sailors had rounded Cape Horn alone’
These are the Cape Horn Astronauts.
The moon, 250,000 miles away, is airless, sterile and silent whilst Cape Horn, at the bottom of the Earth, is ravaged by perpetual storms, mountainous seas and ice.
But in 1969, these two places were the centre of the world’s attention.
On 20 July 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. This was followed by five further moon landings, leading to a total of twelve astronauts standing on the moon. Whilst they did this a further six circled overhead and the world watched.
At the same time, nine single-handed sailors were attempting to sail round Cape Horn, alone, in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Non-Stop Round the World Race. Only one man, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, finished the race (and became the first man ever to sail solo around the world without stopping) but three other competitors did eventually make it alone past the Horn. These four joined seven other lone sailors who had earlier sailed south of the Cape, to become the eleven Cape Horn Astronauts. These eleven men were quite alone and had no one watching them.
This dramatic and exciting book tells the story of the lives of these eleven men and their extraordinary sailing exploits and compares and contrasts their voyages with what the space astronauts achieved.
To lead into the stories of the eleven astronauts’ lives, the author tells of the voyages of the pioneers who first circumnavigated the world alone and who, although not rounding Cape Horn, proved it was possible for lone sailors in small boats to safely navigate the waters of the great Southern Ocean.
Sailors whose lives and voyages are described include Joshua Slocum, Alain Gerbault, Vito Dumas, Marcel Bardiaux, Bill Nance, Edward Allcard, Bernard Moitessier, Nigel Tetley and of course the four sailing knights, Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Alec Rose, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Sir Chay Blyth.
Nicholas Gray has unearthed much new information on the lives of the sailors and on their exploits, some of it never published before. He looks at some of the voyages in a new light and has cast an informed and sometimes critical eye on these happenings from 50 years ago or longer but always acknowledging the exceptional achievements of these men.
Paul Heiney, the well known author, broadcaster and yachtsman, who has himself sailed past Cape Horn, writes in the Preface: ‘One famous astronaut spoke of ‘a small step for man, one great leap for mankind’. For those who go to sea, rather than into space, there’s no greater step than rounding the Horn.’
Publication of the book coincides with the 50th anniversary re-run of the original Golden Globe Single-Handed Non-Stop Round the World Race which started on 1 July this year and will finish in France in 2019, which is also the 50th anniversary year of the first moon landing.
Even today, only about 200 men (and women) have sailed solo around Cape Horn and the other great Capes in the Southern Ocean, compared to almost 700 astronauts who have been sent into space.