The Aegre Voyage – Book reviews and video

In this Post: a video of a talk about the voyage and the book and links to new reviews of the book in three leading magazines.

Boat lying on a beach
Julie waits with the newly decked Aegre for the tide to come in on the Scourie beach. May 1973

In September 2023 the Wooden Boat Association of Victoria (Australia) invited me to talk about The Aegre voyage and the book at their monthly meeting, ‘in conversation’ with President Peter Batchelor.

Two men seated talking
Nick Grainger in conversation with Peter Batchelor at the (Victoria, Australia) Wooden Boat Association meeting, September 2023

The VIC WBA meet at the Albert Park Yacht Club in central Melbourne. I joined the club when I first moved to Melbourne with my family thirty years ago. Embarrassingly I distinguished myself on my first visit by capsizing our skittish Oughtred John Dory with my two little girls aboard on Albert Park Lake in full view of the clubroom! But at least we could stand up and walk to the bank that day.

Here’s a link to the WBA Facebook page where you can find the video

Reviews of the book have recently appeared or are about to appear in four noteworthy magazines. Each picks up on a different aspect of the story.

Wooden Boat magazine cover
The Nov/Dec 2023 issue of Wooden Boat has a review of The Aegre book

Wooden Boat magazine’s November/December issue contains a lengthy review of The Voyage of The Aegre book by leading sailing photo/journalist Nic Compton, past Editor of Classic Boat magazine, concluding that…

Not only is this a compelling story, but Nick tells it in a relaxed and chatty style… There’s no doubt in my mind that this book will quickly join the library of classic survival stories, alongside tomes such as Survive the Savage Sea, by Dougal Robertson, and 117 Days Adrift, by Maurice and Maralyn Bailey.

For the review see Wooden Boat magazine.

Practical Boat Owner magazine Editor Katy Stickland also gave the thumbs up to the book, putting it at the top of her list of Christmas reading recommendations on the PBO website.

Magazine logo

Katy commented that this was before modern instruments and GPS, and although the story of their time afloat, including their capsize off Tahiti which left the boat dismasted, is a gripping read about survival at sea, it is the details of the preparation of the boat that many Practical Boat Owner readers will find the most fascinating.

For the full review see PBO Best new sailing book releases to buy this Christmas

Writing in the Dinghy Cruising Association Autumn Journal, Matthew Sullivan concludes his lengthy review by writing:

The Voyage of the Aegre is not only an account of a journey but also a moving tale of two young people growing up together, forging a relationship in extraordinary circumstances, and facing down unimaginably difficult challenges with inspirational courage.

Review of The Voyage of The Aegre
The Voyage of The Aegre reviewed by Matthew Sullivan in the Dinghy Cruising Association Journal, Autumn 2023

You can read the full DCA Journal review here.

On the other side of the world John Macfarlane, a sailing journalist with Boating New Zealand magazine, has written a review of the book for the November issue, but you’ll have to wait till later in October to read that.

Signed copies of the book, The Voyage of The Aegre – From Scotland to the South Seas in a Shetland boat are available from the book website here. It can also be purchased from Boat Books Australia, in the UK from Central Books, the Shetland Times Bookshop and other good bookshops such as Waterstones and Foyles, and in the rest of the world from Amazon.

Publishing Update 25 May 2023

Publishing update as at 25 May 2023. plus Before the Voyage: the Boat’s story, and all about the Dream Ship

Good News – the book is with the printer.

The book is finally with the printer. All being well printing of The Voyage of The Aegre book will be completed by mid-June. Then we’ll start sending out advance copies for review. On track for the launch and publication in late July.

The Aegre departing Ardmore, NW Scotland
The Aegre departing Ardmore, NW Scotland
Cut it to 250!

At first writing, The Voyage of The Aegre book had about 350 pages. ‘Too long!’ said the first publisher to take a serious interest. ‘Cut it to 250’. It was hard. It wasn’t a matter of re-arranging a few paragraphs. 100 pages had to go. It was a blood bath. A rewrite, then another. But the book is the better for it. However, lots of good stuff ended up on the floor. For instance, I’d written supporting notes on every chapter (a good 30 pages) and added appendices (another 30 pages), and then in the harsh light of the editing room, I had to accept that some of the stories I’d included just weren’t central, but a diversion, and they had to go too (30 pages of them), which together with thorough editing left 261 pages.

But all was not lost. I resolved to publish selected chapter notes and appendices to the story on the book website as background for the ardent reader. Here is one.

The Boat’s story

This is all about the boat, The Aegre, before Julie and I bought her. It’s quite a story, told in previous owner Andy Bryce’s own words, with characters like Big Jim from Swona, the Laverne, and many a pint after a hard day’s sail across the Pentland Firth where the tide can run at 16 knots, and on a good day the wind is merely a full gale.

I started this backgrounding with the story of the Nelly Bly – now I’ve expanded ‘About The Aegre’ into six pages. Don’t miss them.

Another lesser-known but inspiring read :
The Cruise of the Dream Ship by Ralph Stock – 1921

One of my favourite cruising books, the one I pull out on a cold wet Sunday afternoon ‘cos it always makes me smile.

Stock writes of his wartime dream in the trenches of France, to sail away to the South Seas on his own boat. A fanciful and extraordinary idea in 1917 for a man of relatively modest means. But somehow he makes it come to pass, and heads off with his sister Peter (sic) and good friend Steve, aboard a 47ft Colin Archer sloop built in 1908. With no paid hands but a piano below. Across the Atlantic and much of the Pacific. Common today, but not so in 1919. His writing is a delight to read with his dry English humour. I’ve created a page on the website under ‘Lesser know inspiring reads’ which is under the Artifacts tab. Here: The Cruise of the Dream Ship.

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