My Three Grey Mistresses - Memoirs of a Lad from Leigh
The story of a youngster brought up in Leigh on Sea, with close contact with the shore, the mud and the cockles. Encouraged by his father, who bought him a 12ft sailing dinghy at the age of 13, and then bought a shallow draft cruising yacht in which the family cruised the Thames Estuary and Essex and Suffolk coasts in waters almost empty of other yachts. It was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Joined the Royal Naval Patrol Service early in 1942 - the Yachtsmen's and Fishermen's navy - a cultural shock joining a messdeck of Scottish trawler hands, aboard a 45 year old steam yacht equipped as an anti-submarine vessel, and subsequently promotion to Sub-Lieutenant RNVR, fulfilling his ambition by getting command of a Tank Landing Craft - the D-Day landings and subsequent cross Channel ferry run. A return to civvy street, pitchforked by the sudden death of his father into the family textile business - the search for new permanent premises following the destruction of the West Ham factory in the great night raid on the docks and East End of September 7th 1940. And a return to yachting, with the first of the "Grey Mistresses" in 1947, marriage to Beryl, a fully qualified aeronautical engineer in 1949 and the advent of a family, quickly introduced to the water. The move to Writtle in 1953, the year of "The Great Tide", and an introduction to an active and caring community which still flourishes - service on the Parish Council. His wife is elected to the Chelmsford Rural District Council, followed by the Essex County Council, and ultimately elevation to the the House of Lords. A second "Grey Mistress" is built at Rowhedge, near Colchester, beginning a long association with the village. Voyages to the West Country, Holland, The West Coast of Scotland, Brittany and Spain. Retirement with the third "Grey Mistress", a steel hulled motorboat with steadying sails - a "seagoing country cottage", fitted out where her predecessor had been built - Ian Brown's yard at Rowhedge. The book contains accounts of voyages undertaken in these boats, and has many illustrations.