A highly entertaining record of adventure on the ‘Magic Carpet’ of the oceans.
‘If Peter Padfield never again steps aboard anything less than 30,000 tons he has had his fun and, furthermore, passed it on for others to enjoy.’
‘The author gives a vivid impression of the sea in all its moods and of the men who made up his various ships’ companies.’
The book opens with an account of a life-changing voyage Peter Padfield made in 1957 as a mariner in the replica 17th century bark, Mayflower II, to commemorate the Pilgrim Fathers voyage to America.
The narrative takes us from Brixham, Devon, where the ship was built, across the Atlantic to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where she is now preserved, and brings alive the wonderfully diverse group of officers and men selected by her captain, Alan Villiers. It is illustrated with sketches made during the voyage, the originals of which can be found on the author’s website.
Returning to the P&O line, Padfield next describes a conventional steamship voyage; but the Mayflower had spoilt him for 20th century sailoring. Leaving P&O, he worked his passage on a violently uncomfortable harbour tug to New Zealand; and the final chapters see him in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific taking part in the search for a missing government steamer, panning for gold in the hills and sailing round the islands hunting salt water crocodiles by night.