Looking back at the lives and sailing careers of some of our lifetime’s finest yachtsmen, this collection of eleven original, moving accounts is just as much a celebration of the good – tales of hope, achievement and courageous spirit – as it is an account of their tragic final voyages.
Included are world-renowned racers, like Eric Tabarly and Rob James, highly experienced cruisers and adventurers, like Peter Tangvald and Bill Tilman, and the notoriously ill-prepared Donald Crowhurst, as well as other famous and some less well-known sailors. Starting with the sad loss of Frank Davison and Reliance in 1949, the book concludes with the amazing last voyage of Philip Walwyn in 2015 – crossing the Atlantic single-handed in his 12 Metre yacht Kate.
All of the men and women described were friends with or known to the author, Nicholas Gray, who himself competed in several short-handed long distance races, where he met and raced against many of these fascinating characters.
Peppered with photographs showcasing the sailors and their yachts, this is a refreshing look at those who have helped to shape this sport’s history, honouring their lives and accomplishments before detailing their tragic last voyages.
“he progresses beyond an account of a voyage to a much richer character portrait, allowing the reader to share both the challenges of these ambitious voyages and what the sailor was going through. The sailors are a remarkable collection.” Yachting Life
“breath-taking accounts of events that led to the tragic seafaring deaths of seventeen people….in a captivating easy-to-read style, each page crammed with information and insights… a ‘must-read’ for anyone contemplating a serious sea voyage or offshore race.” Cruising Association
"Nicholas Gray describes, with an elegance and sympathy rightfully deserved by such characters, the lives, sailing careers and final voyages of a number of well-known yachtsmen, all friends of or known to him. He gives a wonderful insight into the people behind the headlines and the lives before the tragedies. This is an excellent tribute to truly great sailors. Last Voyages is a superb read. I thoroughly recommend it for anyone, like me, with a love of the sea or an admiration of those who have the courage to contend with this mighty force of nature." Sir Chay Blyth
"This is an unusual and absorbing book which describes the exploits and adventures of eleven great sailors, some very well-known and others less so, all of whom lost their lives at sea. The subject matter is not as depressing as it sounds. Nicholas Gray has succeeded in making it more of a celebration of the lives and achievements of these remarkable people. The author knew many of the sailors who are featured, and writes in an engaging, almost conversational style with much hitherto unpublished background detail and reminiscences. Each story is very different, but all are fascinating. One is left with a consistent feeling of admiration for the seamanship, endurance and above all for the sense of fun that prevailed throughout. They all lived life to the full, and Last Voyages is a very fitting tribute." Royal Cruising Club