‘No sea voyage can be dull for a man who has an eye for the ever-changing sea and sky, the waves, the wind and the way of a ship upon the water.’
So observes H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman in this account of two lengthy voyages in which dull intervals were few and far between.
In 1966, after a succession of eventful and successful voyages in the high latitudes of the Arctic, Tilman and his pilot cutter Mischief head south again, this time with the Antarctic Peninsula, Smith Island and the unclimbed Mount Foster in their sights. Mischief goes South is an account of a voyage marred by tragedy and dogged by crew trouble from the start. Tilman gives ample insight into the difficulties associated with his selection of shipmates and his supervision of a crew, as he wryly notes, ‘to have four misfits in a crew of five is too many’.
The second part of this volume contains the author’s account of a gruelling voyage south, an account left unwritten for ten years for lack of time and energy. Originally intended as an expedition to the remote Crozet Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, this 1957 voyage evolved into a circumnavigation of Africa, the unplanned consequence of a momentary lapse in attention by an inexperienced helmsman.
The two voyages described in Mischief goes South covered 43,000 miles over twenty-five months spent at sea and, while neither was deemed successful, published together they give a fine insight into Tilman’s character.