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WriteSide: Michael Chapman Pincher with a sea-shanty and his dream crew for a global voyage

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Michael Chapman Pincher. Photo by Byron Newman

Michael Chapman Pincher. Photo by Byron Newman

The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor by Michael Chapman Pincher

The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor by Michael Chapman Pincher

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Michael Chapman Pincher. Photo by Byron Newman

Write a brief outline of your book, Long Lost Log — as a sea-shanty.

(Verse)
Never sailed to wind before
Only stood upon the shore
Come the time to turn a page
Come the time to come of age
Come the dream of ocean trips
Come the sight of sailing ships
A bursting youth, a hardy fool
Off to swim a deeper pool

(Chorus)
It’s just the right night sky
For a guy to be smiling by
Stars are bright, sea is warm
We made it through a storm.
The raging sea was all around
Roaring wind, mighty sound
Captain Farrell knew what to do
I was just a frightened crew

(Verse)
Found the sea legs at my feet
Heard my heart’s pounding beat
Spent my time before the mast
Spent my time and spent it fast
Saw the sights of ocean blue
Saw the colour of things anew
The boy cast off as folliful fool
Returned a lord of his misrule

What inspired you to revisit those times in a memoir?
Sailors, like fisher-folk, can be bores, so I never told of my rite of passage. When my diary, which I thought lost, was returned by an old flame (who had kept it for 47 years), it triggered deep memory. Once in the zone, the characters I met came back to life. My job was to turn up at my desk and gather their blather from the ether. Once I was under their spell, I had no option but to finish it.

What’s your dream crew for a round-the-world voyage?
Captain Cochrane, the ‘loup des mers’ — I sailed with his descendent, ‘Captain Jack’, who I would follow anywhere; Tom Crean, unsung hero of Antarctic expeditions; Grace O’Malley, fiery redhead buccaneer; Robert Mitchum, a cool handy Yankee and up for the craic; Stéphane Grappelli — you need a fiddle player; Joseph Conrad, sailor and scrivener; Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz, a tough, practical Polish sailor and the first woman around the world alone; Patrick Moore, who knows the stars, understands weather and plays chess; and Crookshanks, the cat from Harry Potter.

What’s your best tip for avoiding seasickness?
Hold a gold coin between your teeth when you hang over the side.

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The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor by Michael Chapman Pincher

The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor by Michael Chapman Pincher

The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor by Michael Chapman Pincher

‘The Long Lost Log: A Diary of a Virgin Sailor’ by Michael Chapman Pincher, published by Lilliput Press, is out now

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