Lit Bits

A PILGRIM AMONG THE SWATCHWAYS: Chasing the Ghost of Maurice Griffiths

Riverside

The name Maurice Griffiths is not particularly well known in the United States, but in England he is most certainly an iconic figure. A dapper fellow with a goatee beard, he was born into modest circumstances at the turn of the 20th century, the second son of a traveling glove and underwear salesman who had an eye for ladies and racehorses and consequently died bankrupt. At age 19, in the year 1921, not long before his father passed away, Maurice and a friend sold a much-loved model railroad set, invested the proceeds in a 50-year-old semi-derelict cutter named Undine, and the rest--as they say--is history.

Over the course of the next six decades, Griffiths bought, sold, and cruised innumerable small yachts, and wrote 15 books on sailing, one of which, The Magic of the Swatchways, is now a classic of British sailing literature. Griffiths also trained himself as a naval architect and became a successful yacht designer, drawing several pioneering designs for simple shoal-draft cruising boats. Most important, perhaps, he was one of the first on either side of the Atlantic to publicly champion the concept of sailing as a sport for the common man. During his 40-year tenure as editor-in-chief at Yachting Monthly magazine, he transformed what had become an elitist yachting social journal into a practical, but very literate bible for middle-class sailors who dreamed of getting afloat aboard boats of their own.

Read more ...

Write comment (4 Comments)

TALES OF JOHANNE REGINA: In Andorra With Tom Cunliffe and Clare and Edward Allcard

Johanne under sail

Sorry the blog’s been dark so long! But I do have an excuse. I’m in France right now, having come by way of Ireland (where I was visiting family for Easter) and Barcelona and then Andorra, where I stopped in for a few days to visit Clare and Edward Allcard, the well-known liveaboard cruiser-authors who wandered far wide for many years on an old 90-ton Baltic ketch named Johanne Regina (see Clare’s books A Gypsy Life and The Intricate Art of Living Afloat). Johanne has since been adopted by a Catalonian non-profit group, has been rechristened Ciutat Badalona (after the Catalonian municipality of the same name), and is now flawlessly maintained (see photo up top).

But it wasn’t always so. If you’ve ever read A Gypsy Life, you’ll recall that the Allcards’ two decades of ownership of Johanne was an unrelenting maintenance nightmare and the boat was never really ever close to being “finished.” Coincidentally, during my visit they were also visited by British sailing author and TV personality (and erstwhile SAIL contributor) Tom Cunliffe, his wife Ros, and his old mate John Lovell, who had come to share some even grimmer tales of Johanne’s pre-Allcard days.

Read more ...

Write comment (8 Comments)

VOYAGING WITH KIDS: The Ultimate Guide for Cruising Families

Kids cover

Lin Pardey gave me a hug and handed me a copy of this book when I saw her at Annapolis, and now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Of course, I do have to admit I am biased. I know and have worked with several of the people involved in creating the book--two of the authors, the publisher, and the editor--but I wouldn’t be pimping it if it wasn’t good. All these people are some of the best in the business.

I can think of many magazine articles I’ve read (and edited) over the years on this subject--how to live the cruising dream with kids in tow--but offhand I can’t think of any books. And the big problem with all those articles is they are always written by just one person, so you get a necessarily narrow perspective on what is ultimately an extremely multi-faceted subject. After all, there about as many different ways to be a cruising family as there are families out there cruising. (I am remembering, for example, a family of four I once met in the Canaries who were having the time of their lives--on a boat just 18 feet long!) The very cool thing about this book it that it has three different authors, all of them highly experienced cruising parents, plus they have elicited opinions and information from many dozens of other cruisers, including a big bunch of cruising kids who have since grown into adulthood.

Read more ...

Write comment (4 Comments)

SEA GYPSY: Early Adventures of Peter Tangvald

Sea Gypsy cover

I continue to be fascinated by the Tangvald family: young Thomas, who sailed with his young son and pregnant wife from Puerto Rico to Brazil aboard an engineless 34-foot nativo racing sloop and was subsequently lost at sea off the South American coast sailing the same vessel singlehanded in 2014; and his father Peter, who lost two wives at sea and was himself killed along with a 7-year-old daughter after he piled up on a reef off Bonaire in 1991. So I have purchased and recently finished reading Peter Tangvald’s first book, Sea Gypsy, which was published in 1966 and has long been out of print. This does not document the infancy of Peter’s bluewater cruising career, aboard a 45-foot yawl Windflower that he sailed from England to California in 1957-58, but rather its adolescence, aboard a 32-foot cutter Dorothea on which he circumnavigated from 1959-64.

Read more ...

Write comment (6 Comments)

Search

Subscribe

Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here