The Long Lost Log is an entertaining account of crossing the Atlantic in 1974. Those who have ever been young, muddled and gullible will enjoy this book, says Julia Jones

The Long Lost Log
Michael Chapman Pincher
Lilliput Press, £14

This cruising log is also a personal rite of passage.

Michael Chapman Picher was 22 and out of work when a friend, Anthony Farrell, told him that his father was looking for a crew member to help him take a yacht across the Atlantic. Michael had never sailed but cherished the idea as a secret dream. He said yes.

John Farrell accepted Michael despite his absolute ignorance.

He put him to work at once, preparing Laurent Giles-designed Gay Gander for the trip.

Later Michael discovered that they were also to be joined by Stryder, a Russian Blue cat, and Carola, a formidable lady in her late 40s who was introduced as John’s ‘sailing companion’.  

It’s a very young, very ‘period’ memoir.

The year is 1974 and the clash of free-loving, dope-smoking, hippy culture, gender equality, racial stereotyping and failed tweedy attitudes is about to be played out in the confines of a 37’ cruising yacht, heading for the Caribbean.

All of them, except the cat, are running away.

Michael is escaping his lack of work, lack of direction and dysfunctional family.

Continues below…

His father, the controversial journalist Henry Chapman Pincher,  has made his childhood so miserable that even the worst humiliations of his new situation wash over him. 

By late September they have left the boatyard and are heading for the Canary Islands.

Carola smokes and cooks religion, Stryder uses his litter tray ‘with clockwork regularity’, Michael cleans it out and learns his duties as deckhand.

A proto-family is formed.

Cruising folk know that relationships made on voyage are seldom permanent but it comes as a shock to Michael when he is banished from the boat for a week when they reach Lanzarote.

And when the voyage finally ends in Antigua, the relationships end too. 

Or do they? Michael bums around, sleeps around, loses the logbook he’s been writing since he left England. 46 years later it’s found in an attic.

John Farrell’s son Anthony is instrumental in persuading Michael that this is a rite of passage tale worth publishing.

Sailors and non-sailors alike who remember the world as it was 50 years ago, and who have ever been young, muddled and gullible will enjoy this book.

The author described his experience as ‘a life-affirming kick up the backside’ – which seems about right.

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