Cover image for The last time around Cape Horn : the historic 1949 voyage of the windjammer Pamir
The last time around Cape Horn : the historic 1949 voyage of the windjammer Pamir
Stark, William F.
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxii, 231 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Corporate Subject:
Geographic Term:
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
G478 .S73 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In 1949, a young Dartmouth student named William Stark left his study-abroad program in Zurich for a berth as an Ordinary Seaman on a Finnish windjammer that would carry 60,000 sacks of barley 12,000 miles in 128 days from Australia to Europe, around Cape Horn. This is Stark's engrossing memoir of the end of a long tradition of young men going to sea in the Great Age of Sail, and the final rounding by a commercial sailing ship of fearsome Cape Horn--the veritable Mount Everest of sailing. Stark vividly chronicles the Pamir's journey through the world's stormiest seas as he worked brutal four-hour watches on decks awash with the huge swells of the Southern Ocean, and scrambled up ice-coated rigging to manhandle sails on masts that were up to twenty stories high. Stark experienced the shipboard life of the seventeenth century in 1949 on a vessel longer than a football field. Contrasting the romance and realities of life on the sea, and poignantly evoking the passionate love affair he left behind, Stark wrote a thrilling narrative that brings closure to the era of Cape Horn merchant sailors that began more than three centuries before. Pages of memorable photographs are included.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1949 the Pamir sailed from Port Victoria, Australia, to Falmouth, England, a 16,000-mile, 128-day journey through raging seas. It was the last commercial sailing vessel to round Cape Horn, the storm-tossed tip of South America, and it\b carried 60,000 sacks of barley. On board was Stark, a 22-year-old sailor who worked on the decks along with 33 other seamen. Stark describes his four-hour watches with little sleep (he was fully dressed with clothes perpetually wet with seawater), drinking rum (a time-honored reward for hard work and a job well done), raging gales, torrential tropical rain, the sheer terror of sailing through a hurricane, and floundering around in the fog and calm off the Cornish coast. Stark's son, Peter, wrote the introduction, a loving tribute to his father, who killed himself earlier this year. The book, with 16 pages of black-and-white photographs, is\b a fascinating account of this historic voyage. --George Cohen Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The year 1949 marked the final journeys of commercial windjammers, huge, steel-hulled, four-masted sailboats carrying cargo halfway around the world. Stark was a sailor on the Pamir, a Finnish ship, the very last windjammer to sail commercially around Cape Horn, and lived to write this romantic tale of adventure and camaraderie tempered by grueling, dangerous work. The author, who committed suicide earlier this year at age 75 after suffering from depression, had been enthralled with ships and sailing since childhood. He first heard of the Pamir's voyage in a Zurich cafe during a year abroad as a college student in 1947. He quit school to fly to Australia to try to get a job on the ship. That trip, on a tiny, rickety charter plane, was an adventure in itself, as Stark and his seat mate, a charming Frenchwoman en route to Indonesia, were engaged in a brief but passionate affair as they braved hair-raising takeoffs and brushes with guerrilla war in Saigon. Eventually arriving at the Pamir's port, Stark spent months working on the docks, acquiring, at the last minute, a much-coveted berth on the Pamir as an Ordinary Seaman. The four-month voyage across the world's most stormy and dangerous seas, without engines or even a radio, challenged him not only with dangers like furling sails atop 200-foot-high masts in hurricane winds, but also with grinding work and sleep deprivation demanded by four-hour watches. This entertaining memoir seamlessly imparts sailing terms and ocean lore, and will enthrall all who have held romantic notions of life at sea. Maps, photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) Forecast: An article on Stark and his son appears in this month's Outside magazine, which should spark interest in the book. The work has already received praise from Ian Frazier and Revell Carr. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Peter StarkPeter Stark
Mapsp. vii
Pamir Schematicp. xii
Introduction: Cape Horn, Young Men, and the Spirit of Adventurep. xv
Prelude: A Night at Seap. xix
Chapter I The Rumor of a Shipp. 1
Chapter II Yvettep. 12
Chapter III Bad Newsp. 30
Chapter IV Life of a Wharf Ratp. 50
Chapter V Pamir of Mariehamn: The Last of the Cape Horn Fleetp. 69
Chapter VI The Pamir Sets Sailp. 83
Chapter VII In Search of the Roaring Fortiesp. 99
Chapter VIII Running the Easting Downp. 120
Chapter IX The Hornp. 142
Chapter X North to the Linep. 154
Chapter XI Of Doldrums and Hurricanesp. 169
Chapter XII The Long Way Homep. 181
Spilogue: A Life Inland, and a Ship That Stayed with the Seap. 195
In Memoriam William Starkp. 207
Appendix I Shipmatesp. 211
Appendix II Cape Horners Societyp. 219
Bibliographyp. 223
Indexp. 225
About the Authorsp. 232