A Tugman's Tale

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About the author

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards was born in Gravesend, a hub of maritime activity 25 miles downriver from the centre of London. His father had been injured in an industrial accident, but once he had squandered his compensation, money was tight. Growing up, you had to make your own amusements. Catching eels on the marshes, riding ponies at the nearby riding school before the owners were awake and long cycle rides on an old bike which had to be shared with his best friend – one standing pedalling and the other sitting on the seat.

Another favourite occupation was watching films. They were an insight into what life could be like if you didn’t live on a council estate Although he would amuse himself with writing and illustrating stories, Amazon had not yet been invented and the only recourse to fame and fortune, or at least the fortune, was to get a job working on the Steam tugs, which he joined when he was 15. Like all new recruits, he started as cook, but went onto working on deck until he left nearly 7 years later. The hours were long – on average 140 a week – but the pay was good. If by the end of the week you were still alive that is!

There was then a mind-blowing eureka moment when he saw a film clip about ocean racing. He knew at once that this was what he wanted to do and directed all his energies into achieving that goal. He got a job as permanent crew on an ocean racer and later qualified as a yacht skipper. This was the beginning of the life he had dreamt of, and the escape from the dark skies, the rain and the cold that had been the norm when he was working on the tugs. He ended up in the South of France, which was a Mecca for anyone searching for work on yachts, as the Cote d’Azur, with its climate and scenery, was a sailing and boating paradise.