Tag Archives: cape horn

Author and broadcaster Paul Heiney to talk at West End chandlery Arther Beale

West End chandlery Arthur Beale is presenting a talk by broadcaster, author and sailor Paul Heiney on the evening of the 7th of May from 18.45.

Paul will talk on his upcoming book One Wild Song – A Quick Dash for the Horn, which details his adventures sailing solo to Cape Horn

After his son committed suicide at the age of 23, Paul Heiney embarked on a journey he had hoped they would take together, to the infamous Cape Horn.

Armed with his son’s last and most poignant poem he set off on an adventure to find understanding, peace and to deal with the most unimaginable loss.

Paul set sail from England in 2011 in a modest family cruiser, and his his voyage took in the incredible peace of Andean glaciers, the unforgiving wilderness of the south Atlantic Ocean, and perhaps less predictably, spine-chilling fear moored by lonely Brazilian docksides.

After a round-trip of 18,000 miles – 11,000 of them alone – he came close to needing rescue not far from home.

The talk should provide an honest and open account of setting one’s own course, but should also prove poignant, moving, funny and thought-provoking.

Paul Heiney has been a TV and radio broadcaster for over 30 years, starting on BBC Radio 1 before moving to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He was a presenter on That’s Life! from 1978 until 1982, and more recently has presented Watchdog on BBC1. He currently presents the ITV prime-time show Countrywise.

The talk starts at 18:45 sharp – please arrive early – at Arthur Beale Ltd, 194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JP. Booking is essential, and to do so pop into the shop, email talks@arthurbeale.co.uk  or telephone 02078369034. Entrance is £5.00, but is waived if you buy purchases on the day amounting to more than £15.00.

Praise for Heiney’s soon-to-be-released book One Wild Song – A Voyage in a Lost Son’s Wake:

‘A terrific adventure into wild and distant waters, and a strong tribute to a son’s memory. Paul Heiney’s story is a new classic of small-boat seafaring and a fine description of the deep south.’ Sir Ranulph Fiennes

‘I have never read anything like it before and it still haunts me. A wonderfully told story of the sea, shot through with an author’s anguish at the loss of a beloved and hugely talented son.’ John Julius Norwich

Cape Horn Passage to California

Thanks to Hans Riecke for finding this piece of romantic and salty stuff!

Stan Hugill describes Sailortown

Sailortown, Stan Hugill, Shanties, sailors, sailing ships, sea songs, sex, religion, drink, cape horn, paradise street, ratcliffe highway, sex, religion, drink

Sailortown is Stan Hugill’s book describing the sailor’s life when on land. A great shanty scholar, he felt driven to write it following publication of his important work Shanties from the Seven Seas; his motive was to explain how it comes to be that while the shore sea song writer uses many ‘bounding billows’ , ‘flowing seas’ and ‘raging mains’, genuine sailors’ songs concentrate instead on the delights and often dangers of being a sailor ashore.

These two quotations from come from the preface to Sailortown. The first answer’s Hugill’s purpose in writing the book:

‘The shantyman, being by nature somewhat of a philosopher, realized that the arduous labour of ship-board work and the terrors of the inclement weather were things too real and monotonous to be sung about. He preferred to conjure up the shore delights of chasing a bit o’skirt, with stuns’ls flying alow and aloft, down Liverpool’s Paradise Street, or those of knocking back the hard stuff in a tippling house, in tow with dubious frilly company, somewhere along the Ratcliffe Highway. that was sure-fired  stuff guaranteed to appeal to a half-frozen, underfed, and sex-starved bunch of foremast hands… “Give us the one about Madame Gashee!” would be the shout, and the shantyman would, in a hurricane stanza, take them to the dives and delights of Callao.

The second describes a place more like a kind of hell than a heaven:

‘Sailortown was a world in, but not of, that of the landsman. It was a world of sordid pleasure, unlimited vice and lashings of booze, but a dangerous place too. The pseudo-sailor songs singing of the sailor being ‘snug and safe ashore’ or ‘safe at last, the bar is past’ were wrong, you know. A sailor ashore was anything but safe. He was far safer at sea, hanging on by his eyebrows and toenails to an upper tops’l yard, reefing sail in a Cape Horn snifter, than he was in Sailortown, where every boarding-house master, harpy, pub hanger-on, and wharf-rat was awaiting to skin or slug him, and where his useless corpse was often to be found, knife between the shoulder-blades, lying sprawled in some dark, dank alley, or coiled obscenely around a tide-washed barnacled pile.

‘Sailors in the old days were of an adventurous disposition. Foot-loose men, bachelors by choice, shore likers, women-likers, booze-likers, they were wonderful men at sea, who often deteriorated ashore. And, strangely enough, as Alan Villiers has pointed out, they were God-fearing men. On my first voyage as a boy I sat down to eat my hash with my hat on. An aged, hawk-faced, slightly hump-backed Horn-toughened Irish shellback sent my hat a-flying, following its removal with a hefty clout around my earhole, and remarking at the same time, ‘Doff your hat sonny an’ ‘onour yer Maker!’ And expression I have never forgotten.