Just Sea & Sky – Book Review

Just Sea & Sky
England to New Zealand the Hard Way
By Ben Pester
Published by Adlard Coles Nautical (September 2010)
ISBN: 978 1 408 12855 8

Imagine setting sail for the other side of the world, with one companion by your side and just the sea and sky as your guide.

Ben Pester’s enchanting account of his epic voyage from Plymouth to New Zealand in 1953 provides a fascinating glimpse into the bygone age of traditional seamanship. Without the modern luxuries, we take for granted today, Ben and his crew, Peter Fox, set off with no onboard radio, GPS, electronics, or even cabin lights, lifejackets or liferaft. Instead, they embarked on their 14,000-mile voyage aboard the 39ft gaff yawl Tern II relying solely on hand steering, cranking the engine by hand and navigating with sextant, oil lamps, and torches.

As Tern II made her way around the world, Ben and Peter stumbled across drunken harbourmasters, encountered the mafia, witnessed the legacy of slavery and experienced lost civilizations in the Pacific. This delightfully personal and very engaging account is a true adventure story, told in captivating detail and enriched with colour photographs and route maps of the voyage.

Just Sea & Sky shows how it was, and still is, possible to appreciate the simple pleasures of traditional sailing without the complications of modern-day equipment. It will enchant the landlubber and transport today’s sailor back into the different world of only a few decades ago.

Ben Pester was born in New Zealand and came to the UK in 1943, aged 18, to serve in the Royal Navy. After leaving the service he joined the aluminum industry, rising to the position of an international chief executive. After retiring in 1990 he became a sailing instructor and undertook several long-distance cruises, including rounding Cape Horn. Until his sudden death on May 2010, at the age of 85, Ben continued to sail the coastal waters of Cornwall all year round in his beloved Marelle.

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