THE BOY WHO FELL TO SHORE: Thomas Tangvald’s Life on L’Artemis de Pytheas

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Nov. 3/2022:  The bomb has dropped, my friends. The new book came out last week and—as of this moment at least—is the Number 1 Bestseller in Amazon’s Aviation & Nautical Biographies category. I urge you to check it out and click BUY here on Amazon (please leave a rating and review if you do!), or you can cut out the middleman and go straight to the Latah Books site and order there. The Boy Who Fell to Shore recounts the life of Thomas Tangvald, son of Peter Tangvald, the once renowned bluewater cruiser who inspired Lin and Larry Pardey back in the day. It truly is an amazing story! Lord knows it has obsessed me these last nine years, ever since I came across a story Thomas wrote for All At Sea magazine while cruising in Puerto Rico, about a year before he disappeared.

During the course of my research I’ve scraped up way more photos than any prudent publisher would ever want to stick in a book, and I thought I’d use the Interweb to share some of these. I previously put up some pix of Thomas racing his “mini-nativo” sloop Buenadaga at Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta. Today I thought I’d share some of L’Artemis de Pytheas, the boat Thomas was born on and lived on through the first 15 years of his life.

The image you see up top, appropriately, is a drawing of the boat that Thomas did when he was 13 years old.

This is Peter Tangvald (in the foreground) dragging L’Artemis out of the shed behind his house in Cayenne, French Guiana, where he built her. He worked on the boat seven years before finally launching her in December 1973. She was a centerboard boat, 50 feet long, built to a design that Peter concocted himself

 

This is L’Artemis early in her career, carrying a gaff yawl rig. That’s Peter fifth wife Lydia, Thomas’s mother, on the tiller. The boat was rigged like this when Thomas was born aboard in May 1976, on passage, in the Indian Ocean

 

Here we see L’Artemis sporting a schooner rig in the Philippines. Peter Tangvald was constantly changing the boat’s sailplan

 

Another variation: L’Artemis with a ketch rig, anchored at Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands, I think in the late 1980s. This may have been a temporary jury rig. Note also the white rectangle over the cabintop, which is a daggerboard Peter Tangvald installed in the boat to replace the centerboard. Photo by Paul Berry

 

This is the only photo I’ve found of the interior of L’Artemis. This shows Peter Tangvald (left) deep in conversation with James Wharram (right, with glasses) sometime in 1974, not long after the boat was first launched. Photo courtesy of Hanneke Boon

 

Peter and Thomas’s mother Lydia with Thomas as a toddler aboard L’Artemis in the Philippines, not too long before Lydia was murdered by boarding pirates in the Sulu Sea in February 1979

 

Thomas and his father aboard L’Artemis in Brunei, not long after Lydia’s murder. This photo was taken by police who suspected Peter of murdering Lydia, as part of a reconstruction of the pirate boarding they staged. It was this photo, they told Peter, that convinced them he was innocent

 

L’Artemis rigged as a yawl again, in Grenada, just after Thomas’s first stepmother, Ann Ho Sau Chew, a Chinese Malaysian, was lost overboard in January 1985. Thomas is on the right. Peter is holding Ann’s daughter Carmen, Thomas’s half-sister. Photo by Olav Hasselknippe

 

L’Artemis rigged as a cutter in 1990, a year before she was destroyed in the wreck on Bonaire that killed Peter and Carmen, leaving Thomas an orphan. Photo by Jean Heylbroeck

 

Peter steering L’Artemis in 1990 with Carmen in a shadow in the foreground. Note the Aries windvane on the transom. Photo by Jean Heylbroeck

 

Thomas lived aboard L’Artemis until late 1990, when he suddenly bought his own 22-foot boat for $200 and moved aboard her. He named the boat Spartan. She was an odd scow-like thing with leeboards, built to a design by Howard Chapelle. This photo shows a sistership

 

This is an original design drawing of the boat. I suspect Spartan’s cabin was more like the one shown in this drawing than the larger one on the example in the previous image. Thomas was aboard this boat, being towed by his father aboard L’Artemis, when L’Artemis crashed into the windward shore of Bonaire in July 1991

 

Thomas at the wreck site in Bonaire, with the surfboard that saved his life. Photo courtesy of Clare Allcard

 

Again, you can buy the book from Amazon or straight from Latah Books and I’m sure a bunch of other places too.

Go for it! You won’t be disappointed.

You can also listen to this podcast of me discussing the book with my friend Andy Schell.

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6 Responses
  1. John Fisher

    Hi,
    I just finished reading this book last night and am dropping this quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I also listened to your interview with Andy Schell before I bought it, and it is apparent how much time you spent on research and getting into his background and history. The Boy Who Fell to Shore is a great book. You’re an engaging writer with a captivating writing style. (I also loved The Sea is not Full).

    Cheers!

    1. Charles Doane

      Ahoy John! Thanks so much. You are obviously a very perceptive reader! I encourage you to drop by Amazon and do the rating/review tip. For both books if you have the time. But especially for The Boy. cheers!

  2. Bruce Conron

    Charles, I’m looking forward to reading Boy. I’ve asked Santa to leave a copy under the tree next month. If it is as much a pleasure to read as The Sea Is Not Full was for me, I’ll be submitting my review to a Canadian yachting magazine forthwith. I reviewed Sea very favorably for a nautical bookstore in Toronto late last year. Hope it sold a few copies for you in 2022.

    1. Charles Doane

      Ahoy Bruce! Thanks so much. I’ll make sure Santa does as he’s asked. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book. I know I sound like a broken record: but it really is an amazing story.

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