Astronauts of Cape Horn

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By the time twelve men went to the moon, only eleven extraordinary sailors had rounded Cape Horn.

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Product Details

Part Number: HIS5234

Edition: No

Publisher: No

Author: Nicholas Gray

Format: No

An intriguing and highly original story from Nicholas Gray, the author of Last Voyages. Astronauts of Cape Horn tells the tale of the only eleven men who had sailed alone around and south of Cape Horn by the time that twelve astronauts, the only men to have done so, stood on the surface of the moon.

The moon, 250,000 miles away, is airless, sterile and silent whilst Cape Horn, at the bottom of the Earth, is ravaged by perpetual storms, mountainous seas and ice. But in 1969, these two places were the centre of the world's attention.

On 20 July 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. This was followed by five further moon landings, leading to a total of twelve astronauts standing on the moon. Whilst they did this a further six circled overhead and the world watched. At the same time, nine single-handed sailors were attempting to sail round Cape Horn, alone, in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Non-Stop Round the World Race.

Only one man, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, finished the race (and became the first man ever to sail solo around the world without stopping) but three other competitors did eventually make it alone past the Horn. These four joined seven other lone sailors who had earlier sailed south of the Cape, to become the eleven Cape Horn astronauts. These eleven men had no one watching them.

This dramatic and exciting book, written so vividly you can feel the sea's spray on your face and taste the salt on your lips, tells the story of the lives of these eleven men and their extraordinary sailing exploits and compares and contrasts their voyages with what the space astronauts achieved.

To lead into the stories of the eleven astronauts’ lives, the author tells of the voyages of the pioneers who first circumnavigated the world alone and who, although not rounding Cape Horn, proved it was possible for lone sailors in small boats to safely navigate the waters of the great Southern Ocean.

Sailors whose lives and voyages are described include Joshua Slocum, Alain Gerbault, Vito Dumas, Bill Nance, Edward Allcard, Bernard Moitessier, Nigel Tetley and of course the four sailing knights, Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Alec Rose, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Sir Chay Blyth.

Nicholas Gray has unearthed much new information on the lives of the sailors and on their exploits, some of it never published before. He looks at some of the voyages in a new light and has cast an informed and sometimes critical eye on these happenings from 50 years ago or longer but always acknowledging the exceptional achievements of these men.

Paul Heiney, the well known author, broadcaster and yachtsman, who has himself sailed past Cape Horn, writes in a Preface to the book: 'One famous astronaut spoke of 'a small step for man, one great leap for mankind'. For those who go to sea, rather than into space, there's no greater step than rounding the Horn.'

The book coincides with the 50th anniversary re-run of the original Golden Globe Single-Handed Non-Stop Round the World Race which started on 1 July this year and will finish in France in 2019, which is also the 50th anniversary year of the first moon landing. Even today, only about 200 men (and women) have sailed solo around Cape Horn and the other great Capes in the Southern Ocean, compared to almost 700 astronauts who have been sent into space.

About the Author

Nicholas Gray is a retired solicitor who has sailed all his life and has owned 14 boats. He has raced trimarans two-handed and competed in several long distance ocean races. As well as having a career in the law he has worked in merchant banking and in the petroleum industry. He has had an interest in a sailmaking company and has owned a boatyard specialising in the restoration of classic wooden boats. He divides
his time between Kent and south west France. Astronauts of Cape Horn is his second book.

His first was the well received Last Voyages, published by Fernhurst Books in 2017