The Temptress Voyages is a sailing classic covering the Atlantic crossings of pioneering sailor, Edward Allcard and deserves a place in your library, says Julia Jones
The Temptress Voyages
Edward Allcard’s first two books Single-Handed Voyage (1950) and Temptress Returns (1951) chronicle his pioneering voyages both ways across the Atlantic.
Allcard was a naval architect whose poor eyesight had kept him to shore duties during the Second World War.
He experienced the general post war feeling of discontent and seems to have had enough money to leave employment, buy the elderly 34’ yawl Temptress and set out from Cornwall in August 1948 to put himself and his yacht to the test.
After a winter spent fitting out in Gibraltar he began his 81-day singlehanded crossing to New York in May 1949.
As he didn’t possess even the most rudimentary windvane steering gear, this involved long hours of helming, though he did discover some points of sailing when Temptress could be left alone.
When night came, Allcard usually hove-to and slept. Occasionally he allowed himself Sunday as a day off.
If he saw a passing ship, he signalled his identification code and hoped his position would be reported to Lloyds.
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This arduous and frequently perilous existence represented Freedom and there was some regret mixed with triumph when he finally reached New York.
American hospitality was generous and a year later, when he had written his first book and was eventually obliged to leave, he felt intense reluctance.
The first part of his return voyage was bedevilled by contrary weather and misfortunes.
Allcard is always a good writer, but this second book is a tougher read as well as a tougher passage.
The weather worsened terrifyingly; his food and fuel ran low. Temptress lost her mizzen; he and she were extraordinarily lucky to survive.
They were towed into Horta for repairs.
After such white-knuckled reading, the later chapters when the young woman, Otilia Frayao, was discovered to have stowed away as Temptress left Horta, are a welcome relief – as it was to Allcard himself.
Once he overcame the awkwardness of the sexual situation, he discovered that he had found a friend as well as a potential crew member.
When Otilia finally left the yacht in Casablanca, he missed her.
Many sailing voyages are also voyages of self-discovery: these two volumes succeed on both the rugged and reflective levels. They are classics of their time and of the individual human spirit.
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