Last Voyages

The Lives and Tragic Loss of Remarkable Sailors Who Never Returned

Nicholas Gray

Eleven original, moving accounts which celebrate the lives and recount the final voyages of well-known yachtsmen, all friends of or known to the author.
Date Published :
February 2017
Publisher :
Fernhurst Books
Series :
Making Waves
Illustration :
22 Halftones, black and white
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781909911550
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 7.75 X 5 inches
In stock


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.

About The Author

Nicholas Gray has sailed all his life and owned 14 boats. He raced trimarans short-handed and has competed in the Round Britain & Ireland and Azores and Back races, winning his class in both. During this time he competed against many of the sailors featured in this book. He has worked in Merchant Banking, as a solicitor and in the petroleum industry. He has also had an interest in a sailmaking company and owned a boatyard specialising in the restoration of classic wooden boats.


Foreword: Sir Chay Blyth


1: The last voyage of Ann and Frank Davison and the loss of the Reliance (1949)

2: The strange last voyage of Donald Crowhurst and the trimaran Teignmouth Electron (1969)

3: The life and last voyage of Mike McMullen and the loss of the trimaran Three Cheers (1976)

4: The last voyage of Simon Richardson and Bill Tilman and the loss of En Avant in the South Atlantic (1977)

5: The life and loss of Alain Colas and his trimaran Manureva (1978)

6: The last voyage and loss of the trimaran Bucks Fizz and her entire crew in the Fastnet Race of 1979

7: The life, last voyage and loss of Angus Primrose and Demon of Hamble (1980)

8: The life and last voyage of Rob James on board his trimaran Colt Cars GB (1983)

9: The life, loves and last voyages of Peter Tangvald on board L'Artemis and his son Thomas on board Oasis (1991 and 2014)

10: The life and last voyage of Eric Tabarly on board his yacht Pen Duick (1998)

11: The extraordinary life and last voyage of Philip Walwyn on board his 12 Metre yacht Kate (2015)



"An unusual and absorbing book."

- Royal Cruising Club

"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

“These memoirs are just as much a celebration of the good – tales of hope, achievement and courageous spirit – as they are an account of the tragic final voyages.”

- All At Sea,, February 2018

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