Background to the book

Until now the full story of the voyage of The Aegre has never been written. The Aegre was a 21ft Shetland boat that Nick and Julie sailed from NW Scotland across the Atlantic and much of the Pacific in 1973-4. Ever since the voyage, there has been talk of a book but it never came to anything.

Now 50 years later, Nick doesn’t often think of the voyage but says it is always with him, and it just takes the glimpse of the sun on the sea, a line of lights at dusk on a far shore, or a little yacht on the horizon, to bring it all back.

Nevertheless, he was starting to worry that the memory of those days might slowly slip into the greyness that memories of fifty years ago fade to. And worse, that the experience and the learning would not be shared.

A visit with his wife Tomoko to a beachside playground with his young granddaughters, Maggie (4) and Rania (2), stirred him into action, as he writes;

In front of us, Maggie and Rania jumped, fell over, squealed, and climbed. Maggie performed her latest trick on the bars while Rania ran to me for a cuddle, her small strong body nestling in the crook of my arm as she snuggled into my shoulder, out of the wind.

I looked over at Tomoko,

“You know one day they will wonder how we ever got together, from opposite sides of the world, how we ended up in Australia’.

Tomoko just gently smiled. After more than forty years together, I know she thinks it was our destiny. Maybe it was. I looked up and out to sea. The sky was clear, and the wind freshening out of the southwest. The tops of the bigger waves were breaking. When the tide turned in a few hours, it would make for a nasty sea. But the horizon was clear. Sometimes it’s as if I’m looking back all those years.

Half an hour later, we were back in our comfortable home in a Melbourne beachside suburb. Opening a cupboard, I surveyed a collection of boxes and files, the hard copy memories of an earlier life cruising the Atlantic and Pacific in a little sailing boat, which led to both happiness and sadness, and somehow to Tomoko, two daughters and two granddaughters. The hard copy was there in front of me, but the soft copy, the story of how we became the people we are today, was in my head. And that’s the real story I wanted to tell.

It was time.

Nicholas Grainger, Melbourne, Australia, 2019

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