Also, Notes on Chapter 5: Another London Winter in the book The Voyage of The Aegre are now available. They cover more on the decision not to take a liferaft, choosing a short-wave radio receiver, and buying a sextant.
Chapter 4 of The Voyage of The Aegre is about how Julie and I found The Aegre, and after a trial sail bought her. In the notes on Chapter 4, I go into some detail about her standing lug rig which may not interest everyone. So if you think the difference between a dipping and a standing lug refers to a hearing problem, and a throat-tripping line is something a serial killer might use, then maybe this is not for you. Instead, wait for the Notes on Chapter 5 which I promise will be of wider interest. Coming soon.
Plus I’ve added a new page, Once is enough, to the Aegre website, Lesser Known Inspiring Reads.
Once is enough is not a reflection on The Aegre experience, but about Miles Smeeton’s book, titled Once is enough. It’s wrong to regard it as ‘lesser known’ except it was published in 1956, so 68 years ago. This amazing tale may have slipped people’s minds, so I thought I’d put together a short reminder.
Miles and Berryl Smeeton, sailing a 46ft ketch, were famously pitchpoled (turned end over end) and dismasted 900 miles northwest of Cape Horn. They struggled to Chile repaired the boat and set out again. And well, again things didn’t go quite as planned. See the link below.
The audiobook is being progressively rolled out to other audiobook retailers and will soon be available on Amazon Audible.
Notes for Chapter 3 of The Voyage of The Aegre- A London winter and Scottish summer.
Notes for Chapter 3 have been added to the book website. They comprise a short expansion on beginning to learn about navigation (as mentioned in Chapter Three) and notes from Brian King, an enthusiastic sailing instructor I met at Ridgway’s Adventure School in Scotland in 1972 and also wrote about in Chapter 3. A year later, Brian met yachtsman Bernard Moitessier in New Zealand. Moitessier invited Brian to live aboard his yacht, Joshua, for a time. They talked for days. Brian passed me some of his notes, which I have reproduced with his permission in the Notes on Chapter 3.
Moitessier’s yacht Joshua in 2006 in La Rochelle. Photo: Remi Jouan https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1282464
Notes for Chapter Two of the book, The Voyage of The Aegre, have been added to the book website here.
The Notes give background to my first summer working at the John Ridgway School of Adventure at Ardmore, NW Scotland, during which my first ideas for The Aegre voyage started to develop.
John Ridgway beside the 1966 Atlantic rowboat, English Rose III
Key contributors, expanded on in the Notes with more photos, were the row across the Atlantic by John Ridgway and Chay Blyth in 1966; sailing English Rose IV, the yacht Ridgway was loaned to enter the first solo non-stop round the World race in 1968, and the experience and camaraderie of the Instructor team at the Adventure School.
You can jump straight to the Chapter Two Notes here.
Earlier versions of the story long before publication had a different title, was longer and had Chapter Notes
Chapter Notes are being added to the book website
Earlier versions of The Voyage of The Aegre, before publication, had various titles, were longer, and included additional notes for each chapter.
However, when it came to publication, cost constraints, market expectations, and publisher pressure led me to change the title, make substantial cuts to the manuscript, and remove the chapter notes. It seemed a pity then, but I think the book as published is the better for it.
However now the book is established in the market and readers are frequently writing to me, I’ve decided to progressively publish updated versions of the Chapter Notes on the book website. These will be under ‘The Book’ tab, but you can jump directly to the Notes for the first chapter, ‘Learning to Live’.
I’ll progressively publish the Notes for each chapter
The book is now listed on Goodreads. It’s free to join Goodreads, and anyone can then post ratings and reviews. So if you enjoyed the book and would like to help others discover it, please add it to your Goodreads file and give it a rating and even a review. Thank you! Goodreads also provides a forum for discussing a book and asking the author questions. I’ll try to answer any questions posed about The Aegre voyage. I’ve also listed a few of my own favourite books.
If you’ve already read the book, you might enjoy seeing the Guestbook that we kept on The Aegre. I’ve added it to The Aegre book website. We didn’t have a proper guestbook but asked visitors to the boat to sign inside the covers of a photo album we created about The Aegre. The covers survived the capsize, more or less, and below the image of each page, I’ve listed the names I can identify. Maybe you or someone you know is there? Take a look.
If you bought the book from Amazon, please rate it or even write a few words about it. Ratings and reviews influence how Amazon positions a book and the exposure it gets. Your support will help the book. Thank you.
And Varua? Varua is the 70ft brigantine made famous by William Albert Robinson in his book ‘To The Great Southern Sea’ (Peter Davies – London, 1957) which in addition to being a great sea voyaging story, has excellent detailed appendices on every aspect of Varua and heavy weather sailing.
Now that The Voyage of The Aegre has been published I’m progressively adding more background about the voyage and the book to the website.
After all these years isn’t my memory a little hazy?
One of the questions I’m asked about writing the story of The Aegre Voyage 50 years after it happened is how I managed to remember so much. Isn’t my memory a little hazy?
Part of the diary written after the mid-Pacific capsize 9 Sept 1974
To answer this I’ve created a page about how I gathered materials and re-immersed myself in the story, how the book evolved and the assistance I was given. I’ve included an example of a letter home written on a long passage (one of many), old photos and a page of the log we kept after the capsize. See Writing the story after all these years.
The Cruise of The Kate
I’ve also added to the website information about an inspiring but little-known book today, The Cruise of The Kate by E E Middleton. Early in my story of The Voyage of The Aegre, I mention how I was influenced by Middleton’s account of a solo voyage around England in 1869 in an engineless flush-decked 23ft yawl.
In my opinion, it’s still as inspiring a read for the small boat sailor as when it was written 153 years ago.
It’s an amazing story you can learn more about here and also see more pictures of The Kate.
To learn how you can buy the Voyage of the Aegre book please go here.
The book: The Voyage of The Aegre launched in Scotland to positive reviews.
The Voyage of The Aegre book was launched in Lerwick, Shetland, during the Tall Ships Festival, 26-29 July 2023. See Shetland Launch to read all about it and listen to an interview with author Nick Grainger streamed by 60North Radio.
Nick in front of the Shetland Times Bookshop, Lerwick, Shetland
Following the Lerwick visit, Nick travelled to Scourie, the small village on the northwest coast of Scotland, the departure point of The Aegre, to tell the voyage story. A sentimental journey after 50 years. Read about it here.
Positive reviews have been coming in from yachting journalists and general readers, see Reviews.
The Voyage of The Aegre book is almost ready for the printer. And more on one of the origins of the voyage idea, the passage of a cloth-covered curragh from Ireland to Iona off NW Scotland in 1963.
This week, the page maker, Dr Digby, is finalising the details with Gutenberg Press in Malta, who will print the book. Little by little, it’s coming together.
More background to the voyage
An adventure like The Aegre voyage doesn’t just happen. In the early part of the book, I write about some of the people and stories that led me to think such a voyage was not just possible but a practical way to go sailing far on a small budget, a sort of cycle camping alternative to a big expensive camper van. It’s in the hope of inspiring others to take an adventurous course that I’ve written the book. One of my inspirations to go sailing was the story of my uncle who went to sea in a traditional Irish curragh, dressed as a monk.
This was a 1963 reconstruction of the voyage of St Columba in 563 AD from Northern Ireland to the island of Iona off the coast of NW Scotland, in a time when voyage reconstructions were rare. I was 13 and could only look on with envy. But it got me thinking. Maybe you too. I’ve gathered together information about the voyage and the curragh here. It’s quite a tale.
An update on the book, some background to Shetland boats, about our publisher, and how we kept accurate time on The Aegre.
The Aegre is one of the characters of this story, but I don’t attempt to humanise her. She was a Shetland boat and had enough character without any need to give her human frailties. I knew her intimately, every plank and fastening, and her behaviour in calms and storms. I learned to move with her as if we were extensions of each other. Intuitively I learnt to trust her.
But it was only after the voyage that I learned more about Shetland boats, their origins, and usage over centuries. I wasn’t surprised. Long before I’d learnt that with the sweetness of her lines, The Aegre could slip through the water with barely a ripple in the lightest of breezes, surge forward endlessly before the big sweeping swells of the trade winds, and slow down to ride out the big rollers when it all became a bit much.
So it was that gathering background material for this story, I discovered books about these boats, their building and their use in the Shetland Isles. You might be interested too.
Take a look at Adrian Osler’s ‘The Shetland Boat’ and ‘Shetland’s Boats: Origin, evolution and use’ by Marc Chivers. With Dr Adrian Osler’s permission, I’ve included some of his drawings of the construction of Shetland boats in The Aegre voyage book.
Another is ‘Small Boats of Shetland’, a delightful little book by Alison Munro. All are available from the Shetland Times Bookshop.
Small boat designer Iain Oughtred has created relatively easily built designs that draw heavily on Shetland boats, such as his 19’6″ Caledonia Yawl, the design of my last boat, Crazybird.
Book progress: The book is almost ready to go the printer. We are just finalising some pages; then it’ll be the grand final check before sending it off.
The book publisher: The Voyage of The Aegre, is being published by Vinycomb Press. Not (yet) a well-known publisher. Last year I was only able to interest one commercial publisher (other than the vanity press) but eventually, I realised that to tell the story in the way I wanted, regardless of the market, I needed to publish the book myself. Fortunately, by then, I had around me a rather expert team committed to the book’s success. We decided to publish it ourselves. But we were spread around the world.
The Vinycomb Press publishing team comprises:
Dr Gene Carl Feldman, kayaker and small boat sailor, NASA oceanographer and editorial adviser, with a curious link to The Aegre explained in the book. Lives near Washington, DC.
David Burnett, retired Gollancz publisher. Tireless, and with the wisdom of a long career in publishing. Knows everyone, based in Ludlow, UK.
Dr Digby James, Page Maker, fast, a church minister when he’s not page making. Lives in Oswestry, UK.
Sandra Bell, reader, and common sense adviser, taking on some marketing work, responds so quickly we call her Ping. Lives somewhere in the UK.
Myself, I write the stuff. Based in Melbourne, Australia.
And the name? It’s in honour of John Vinycomb, an engraver, illuminator, and heraldic designer, born in 1833. He published books such as ‘On the process for the production of ex-libris (book plates) (1894). He was my great-grandfather.
A photo of him working at his desk hangs on the wall beside me as I write. I’m going to create a page about some of his work on the website, but it’s not available yet.
This week on the book website, I’ve added a page about the difficulty of measuring accurate time aboard The Aegre, why it was important and how we eventually solved the problem. Our solution ended up saving our lives too. See Measuring time aboard The Aegre
Next week I’ll explain our plans to support the book with chapter notes on the website and give a glimpse of things to come.