Villiers, Alan.


Hodder & Stoughton, 1st.ed., 1971. Xxiv + 338 pp., 74 photo-plates + 6 maps & charts. D.j., 24 x 16cm. V.G.+. Bookplate. The very mention of 'Cape Horn' was enough to send a shiver down the spines of the toughest and most able seamen in the days of sail. The square-riggers carried on a private war with the Horn well into the last century. When the large shipowners turned to steam, many of the sailing vessels were left in the hands of 'one-ship' owners and 'managing-owners' who tried, with minimum crews, to squeeze a profit from the long voyages. This is a story of amazing courage, incredible endurance, and criminal neglect. Some British vessels had the worst reputation, mainly in the South American nitrate and guano trades and in the Australian and Californian grain trades. Life for the seamen aboard these sailing vessels was extremely hard. Those who survived drowning, maiming, malnutrition or being clapped in irons, deserted the life at a rate of 20,000 a year ' chiefly to steam. And yet sail, for all its hardships and poor pay, retained a loyal following among seamen who both loved and cursed their vessels and their way of life. In this well illustrated book the author, no stranger to the Horn himself, recalls the hard and romantic days when man and ship took up the fight with the most dangerous stretch of sea in the world.

Share this book