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Taniwha Press UK

Maritime Publications in a small way

The Accidental Sailor
In 1976 Rod Heikell set off in Roulette, a 20 foot boat that should probably have never left the sheltered waters of the Solent, for the Mediterranean. Via the French Canals and Biscay he somehow got to the Mediterranean and sailed to Corsica, Italy and onto Greece. It records the near disasters and highs and lows of a voyage which shaped his life in ways he never imagined. He became the accidental sailor and has led to a life-long love of sailing and exploring the seas. In 1987 he took a Mirror Offshore 18 down the Danube behind the Iron Curtain to the Black Sea and Aegean, probably the longest voyage one these tubby little craft has made.
 These were simple voyages on small yachts with minimal equipment and not a huge amount of experience that shaped what he was to do in ways he never thought would happen. It's a mystery, an accident, he is fond of saying when asked how it all started. He has gone on to write yachting guides to many of the Mediterranean countries, on the Indian Ocean and on routes and landfalls around the world.
What they say about it
A cracking read in the tradition of great cruising yarns.
Dick Durham Yachting Monthly
They are charming tales that heavily reinforce the young mans mantra that the right time to depart on a voyage is right now.
Jake Frith Sailing Today
Both trips are described in a way that takes the reader there and the many amusing anecdotes are a delight. It is interesting to read about the mistakes he made and the problems he encountered. The one that I remember best is when he first left the UK and went the wrong way in the Channel despite taking regular compass readings. This showed the perils of installing a steel tiller bracket too close to the compass and not realising it voided the deviation card which had been completed prior to the bracket being installed.
Cruising Association
For all those dreamers strapped for cash who ever dreamed a dream of sailing somewhere and wondered if they could or not. This book is a good example of permitting the inspiration, whilst cutting the specifications to fit the budget, and just doing it...! Well written and informative.
Amazon review
Published by the Taniwha Press UK and also available on Kindle and as an E-pub (Smashwords, i-Tunes, Sony, etc.)

ISBN 978-0-9575849-0-7
Price   £9.50
A5 format
200 pages
4 pages B&W photos
1 map
Preface to The Accidental Sailor
The cabin of a small yacht is a truly wonderful thing, not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life it is a safe retreat.
L Francis Herreshoff
These two accounts of small boat voyages to the Mediterranean are what I would describe as plucky little voyages rather than big brave expeditions. This is not Tilman voyaging to South America to climb little known peaks or David Lewis sailing Ice Bird down to Antarctica. These voyages are altogether more modest affairs in the 20 foot Roulette through and around France to Greece and in Rozinante, a Mirror Offshore 18, down the Danube behind the Iron Curtain and on through the Black Sea to Aegean Turkey.
In 1976-77 I sailed  the 20 foot Roulette, an old hard chine plywood boat with a dodgy engine and little else down to Greece. No electrics, a steering compass, a few charts, cotton sails and a certain naivety about wind, weather and sea. Roulette sailed to St Malo and then through the Britanny Canals to the Bay of Biscay where we coast-hopped down to Bordeaux. The Garonne Canal and Canal du Midi provide a short-cut to the Mediterranean coast of France and a lot of sight-seeing along the way. From here Roulette crossed to Corsica, Italy and finally to Greece.
The second voyage in 1987 was in Rozinante, a Mirror Offshore 18, that like Roulette was also minimally equipped. The voyage down the Danube started in Regensburg in Germany and continued on downstream through the eastern bloc to Constanta on the Black Sea. Being unable to get fuel in Romania the 200 mile passage to Istanbul took four days under sail. After a breather in Istanbul we sailed Rozinante on through the Marmara Sea to the Aegean and down to Bodrum on the Turkish coast. This voyage was made before the Iron Curtain tore and the former satellites of the USSR broke free from their communist masters.
My sort of cruising is poking around and gunk-holing around the coast and islands of a country. On ocean passages I don't want to arrive in one place and stay there until the next long passage. The joy of making landfall is to explore the country, pottering around harbours and anchorages and seeing what is going on ashore before retiring to the shelter and comfort of your little ship. One thing I am sure of is that passages, however short, somehow augment the senses. Food tastes better. A cup of tea after a blow is the best tea ever. A glass of red, however humble, is nectar from the gods. Laughter and good company are heightened experiences over the land-based equivalent where conversations seem to be endless recitations about mortgages and the new kitchen. I know that those endorphins in my brain somehow, don't ask me how, work overtime to heighten experiences when voyaging in small ships on the sea.
When recalling the first voyage I discovered, in the jumble of files and papers here in my office, Roulette's log from the Loire onwards. The previous log from Yarmouth had gone missing. Like this later log it was probably a little notebook affair that has been ruled up for the entries. It is stained and illegible in places from seawater and the pencil entries have faded though most are still just legible. There are old black and white photos as well, taken with my old Pentax Spotmatic, though there are many that have gone missing. At least this log has kept me honest though lots of the events remain seared in my brain anyway. Part of this account had been written a few years ago and until some friends encouraged me to 'get on with it', it had languished in a near forgotten file on the computer. Most of it was written over 2012-2013.
For the Danube voyage I still have lots of notebooks from the two trips down the river and onwards. The core of the Danube account is from an appendix in my The Danube: A River Guide, though much fleshed out from the notebooks.
So what happened on the way to the Mediterranean? I was 27 in 1976 when we set off from England, sure that this little voyage was to be an interstice before I returned to New Zealand and some 'proper job'. You could call it escaping. I prefer to think of it as something of a pilgrimage, though the object of the pilgrimage is obscure. Something happened on this voyage so that bit by bit I fell in love with this life and voyaging to distant places. Some 37 years have gone by now and I'm still on the water. I've taken Cavafy's message in his poem Ithaca to heart.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time
Rod Heikell   2013
Sailing  Ancient  Seas
A crippled boat and a lot of broken dreams. A broken marriage and a hunger to sail down into the Indian Ocean. This is both a love story about a boat, his beloved Tetranora and a story of a voyage out of love and into life. Along the way it explores ancient sailing routes from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Just how did ancient trading vessels get around the Mediterranean and up and down the Red Sea and across and back from India and Southeast Asia? If boats of this era only had a squaresail, how on earth did they
make to weather against the prevailing winds that headed them? And just how did a navigator cross these foreign seas riddled with reefs and beset by tides and winds?
In many ways the highs and lows of life on board an old 31 foot sailing boat mirror some of the experiences of the ancients. Sitting in the cockpit of a small sailing boat you are a lot closer to the same seas that the ancients sailed on and the same winds and storms that rattled their halyards than you are in a library. This book tells not only of life after love and of the love of an old wooden sailing boat, but of the adventure of the voyage and of ancient voyagers as well.
What they say about it
Rod Heikell writes of a voyage he made in the mid-1990s on his 31ft (9.5m) wooden boat, Tetranora, through the Mediterranean,down the Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia and back.The trip would later inform his Indian Ocean Cruising Guide, which I found invaluable when sailing in his wake 15 years later.Rod set off on the voyage to get over a broken marriage and he interweaves his own story with pieces of philosophy and history related to the places he sailed through. EB

Verdict: "Sitting in the cockpit of a small sailing boat, you are a lot closer to the same sea that the ancients sailed on and the same winds and storms that rattled their halyards than you are in a library," he writes. True words.
Sailing Today
It's a blend of simple cruise story and history book. After sailing the 31ft Tetranora around the Mediterranean for 15 years, Rod had her rebuilt,then sailed through the Suez Canaland along ancient trade routes to India,South East Asia and back, to understand how the ancients traded.He often quotes pilotage information dating from hundreds of years BC.If the history of trade and navigation interests you,as well as the experience ofcruising a route now beset by pirates,it's a fascinating read.
Yachting Monthly
As his title suggests, Heikell is keenly interested in the exploits of
those who sailed similar routes centuries ago. His narrative regularly
quotes from Classical authors: Herodotus, Homer, Pliny (who died in the
eruption of Vesuvius in AD79) and even the Acts of the Apostles. Long
hours at the helm gave opportunity to reflect on how those early
predecessors managed to arrive safely without the benefit of buoys,
lights or binoculars.
... an engrossing account of an epic and redemptive voyage.
Cruising Association
This beautifully written account of a very interesting recent small boat
voyage from Turkey to Malaysia and return, following historical trade
routes, is both educational and highly entertaining.
Amazon review

Preface to Sailing Ancient Seas
This is a story of a voyage in an old wooden sailing boat from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia and back. Tetranora is a boat I lived on and sailed for more than fifteen years around the Mediterranean before setting off down the Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean for Southeast Asia. It is a story of a voyage out of love and into life. And a story about how the ancient Greeks and Romans sailed down into the Indian Ocean to trade with the countries around its shores.
Sitting in the cockpit of a small sailing boat you are a lot closer to the same sea that the ancients sailed on and the same winds and storms that rattled their halyards than you are in a library. For over 25 years I have collected books and papers on the ancients and how they sailed these seas. Research is important to bring together the salient facts and information that historians and archaeologists have gathered over the years, but it needs to be tempered with a knowledge of how things work in the real world. How did ancient trading vessels get around the Mediterranean and up and down the Red Sea and across and back from India and Southeast Asia? If boats of this era only had a squaresail, how on earth did they make to weather against the prevailing winds that headed them? And just how did a navigator cross these foreign seas riddled with reefs and beset by tides and winds?
I am not a Classicist and I don't read ancient Greek. Nor am I an archaeologist let alone an underwater archaeologist. But I have bent my mind to these matters when in calms and storms I have sailed around these seas and in quiet moments I have waded through much of the literature that is available to the dilettante interested in these matters. I have my favourites and I have some ancient sources where the material is more a refined encyclopaedic collection than raw experience written down close to the events. The mistakes, and there are some deep troughs to my knowledge of the classics, these mistakes and fanciful conjecture on my part are all my own. Make of it what you will.
In parts of the sea areas that I sailed through in 1995-1996 the piracy situation has changed radically in the present. In 2009 Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped by Somali pirates off their yacht just a hundred or so miles from the Seychelles and held for ransom for a year. In 2010 we came back up through the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in our yacht Skylax and that was probably the last year that it was safe to do so. In 2011 three yachts were attacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean with four causalities on an American yacht. At present Somali pirates have been curtailed somewhat by naval patrols from a number of countries under UNFOR, but still the sea area in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden remains dangerous to yachts.
In any voyage with shipmates there will be ups and downs and moments of sadness and great joy. To Frank and Colin, my shipmates on Tetranora, I can only hope the voyage left you with fond memories and I hope I didn't bore you rigid with bookish stuff. On this voyage I also had ghostly fellow travellers from distant times and some from more recent history. A voyage through the oceans in a 31 foot yacht is a voyage through time and place in the little time capsule of the boat and in the end I popped out the other side the better for it. After all any voyage should have some sort of end point.
Rod Heikell   Cowes 2014

Published by the Taniwha Press UK and also available on Kindle and as an E-pub (Smashwords, i-Tunes, Sony, etc.)

ISBN 978-0-9575849-3-8
Price   £10.50
A5 format
172 pages
20 pages colour plates
2 maps

To Ithaca
A novel from the pen of J C Graeme.
When there is a knock on his door at night Douglas opens it to find a tall dark girl there. She gives him a package and tells him he must come to Greece. His brother is ill and needs him. Leaving his orderly, comfortable life Douglas travels to Greece where he becomes embroiled in a dark plot to destroy the manuscript for a book on a secretive neo-Nazi party that his brother has written. On his brother’s yacht with the aid of Peter’s friends Darcy and Europa he must out-run his pursuers through the Greek islands and try to piece together what is going on. He must also come to terms with his brother and their troubled early years. It is a voyage he is not ready for and one which will change his life.
Published by the Taniwha Press UK and also available on Kindle and as an E-pub (Smashwords, i-Tunes, Sony, etc.)
ISBN 978-0-9575849-6-9
Price £6.75
192 pages 1 map
In paperback kindle and  Epub (Smashwords/i-tunes, etc.)
 What they say about it

Amazon reviews

Fantastic read, drifting between fiction and non fiction, I did not want the story to end.

Lovely 'easy read' for travellers ( one decent flight long) there's always more than one suspects, sees or hears ......

I came upon this book by chance and what a find! It starts with a man on
the mundane treadmill of life and transports him enexpectedly to Greece
where the mystery slowly unravels. There is history here too, so for
anyone interested in The Colonels and more recent Greek events it's a
cracking read; for those unfamiliar I am sure this will tweak your
interest. I just wish it had been longer! Thoroughly recommended.

Cruising Association review

Review Date: 
Whilst not the type of book normally accepted for review, a book sent to us by Rod Heikell has to be an exception.
This medium length, interesting and intriguing narrative has, fortunately, a useful map of Greece at the front covering the Aegean and Ionian islands to guide us through the extended area of the story.
This is a scary tale of the rise of the modern Greek national socialist party Golden Dawn during the early 21st Century, paralleling the ‘Junta’ years of the late 1960s and 70s. The possible suppression of facts, by destroying a manuscript due to be published, led to the sail from Naxos in the Aegean to Ithaca in the Ionian, to prevent this - all plausibly written with the ebb and flow of past and present well organised. The inclusion of some apparently unnecessary facts becomes clear at the end as the twist in the tail comes as an unpleasant surprise.
The historical data is written with authority and brings the coup by the Colonels back to life and the sailing section covered in the book has the ring of authenticity.
My biggest gripe about this self-published book has nothing to do with the story and it is not the short sentences or even the lack of commas (until near the end) but the fact that there are no “inverted comas” to separate the dialogue from the prose which made it a difficult read at times.

Latest review from Yachting Monthly September 2016

Books reviewed by Colin Jarman
By J C Graeme,published by Taniwha Press at £6.75.

The era of the military junta was traumatic  for Greece and her people. In the aftermath, Golden Dawn emerged as a political party aiming to re-establish military rule. Like all 'neo-Nazi' groups, it is not to be messed with, as this novel's characters discover.
Estranged brothers reunite briefly and try to outsail men who want to prevent the publication of one brother's book about the junta. It's plausible with plenty of sailing.
The text is confusing though, with no punctuation to separate speech from narrative. You get used to it, but it's odd. Otherwise, it's an easy read with a serious underlying thread, and suited to those who know and enjoy sailing in Greek waters.



A new novel from the pen of J.C.Graeme

Out now in paperback, Kindle and Epub

If there is a back story to the Odyssey, then this novel by J. C. Graeme is it. Forget the return from Troy and a band of heroes voyaging the seas and encountering monsters and adventure aplenty while having their way with the local maidens and the odd goddess. In this story of Odysseus, he is a bar-fly in the Sunset Bar on Khios where he trades stories for jugs of wine with the bar owner Homer. He takes on a job for a local merchant on Khios to pick up some cargo on the mainland and while crossing the sea in his little boat he is blown off course along the coast of Asia Minor. On this adventure he encounters a whole cast of characters and maybe even a goddess or two, though they have little in common with the characters peopling the Odyssey as we know it. Some of them may even have been real.
J. C. Graeme vividly brings to life the goings on in the late Archaic period of Greek history and relates a more human epic where even the pantheon of Gods who have ruled over things for so long are being questioned, or at least defied, by mortals. Odysseus meets them all, the Anthropophagus, Circe, Calypso, and the Sirens, but not as we know them from classical literature. In the end Odysseus finds he is accidentally on a voyage that will lead to blindness and madness and even a vision of what the underworld is like. And he will find, despite the despair from all he encounters on his voyage and his descent into madness, that there was more wonder and excitement in the outside world than he ever found in a cup of Koan red in Homer’s Sunset Bar.
MY NAME IS NO ONE is out now in kindle, Epub and paperback.
Kindle ISBN 978-0-9954699-0-7

Epub ISBN 978-0-9954699-1-4

Paper ISBN 978-0-9575849-9-0

What they say about it

Amazon reviews

Top Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 starsA Cracking Adventure
By ChrisontheIOW on 20 Dec. 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rarely do you find a book like this. J C Graeme's knowledge of the classics, the sea and Greece culminate in a book which is hard to fault. For anyone who enjoys a good adventure this is a must read. The original characters are all there, but it is Skylax who is the most intriguing and one who's mental picture, once formed, you will never forget. A fantastic book. By the way, you don't need to have read the Odyssey to appreciate this book; actually I prefer this version!

5.0 out of 5 starsDebunker of stereotypes
By Penny Minney on 16 Dec. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Handy pocket-sized fiction, with a gripping story. Set in the Graeco-Roman world, it debunks heroic stereotypes in a refreshing way. One of the most interesting characters I have ever come across in historic fiction is the deformed and aged pilot, Skylax, who adopts tutelage of Odysseus. JC. Graeme's exuberant imagination springs from a wealth of knowledge. Good Christmas present!

Five star
28 March 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Better than the Original!

JC Graeme’s tongue-in-cheek tale of the voyages of Odysseus is narrated with wit and humour. Many awesome characters and gods from Greek Legends make an appearance but JC Graeme divests them of their pomp and status by portraying them as laymen, which is highly amusing. Odysseus too comes across as a likeable but flawed character. A mediocre sailor, a failed cargo agent, he has also recently run out of the tales from the dockside that bought him his wine in Homer’s bar. Middle-aged and strapped for cash, he rashly takes on a sailing delivery trip. With only a smattering of knowledge about the nature of the local winds and coastline, he inevitably gets lost – for years - sailing to many strange places, and meeting people who all seem to conspire to delay his return home. He learns a lot, he gains riches, but always loses them, returning to square one again and again. He eventually ends up where he started. Perhaps there is a moral here.

November 7, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a neat way to get your classics! I confess I've never been drawn to the story of Odysseus, despite having read children's versions to my sons when they were young. Thanks to the friends who recommended this version! J C Graeme has made Odysseus and his adventures very real, blending the legends with more likely realities, made especially believable by a vivid descriptive familiarity with the Greek islands and their seas. This is not so much a mythical character of ancient legend as a real man with personal challenges and character flaws that shape his fate. A good read. I highly recommend it.

Robyn Charlton
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
December 2, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A fantastic read , so enjoyed it, and a great insight into Greek mythology along with a story.

5.0 out of 5 stars I think this read brought out a beautiful irony between my prior knowledge of a legendary hero ...
March 21, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
There was a prejudice of the hero Odysseus before I read this book, I think this read brought out a beautiful irony between my prior knowledge of a legendary hero and of him being reflected upon the nature of a real man. A man at the bar, the twilight years, and the tragedy of hope. There is an essence of Odysseus being unable to control the world he is in, which reminds one of the godly providence of mythology he derives from.
It was a fun read, like a fictional travel book, the scenes were believable and the history weaved into it was fascinating. It succeeded. I could even say that the man Odysseus in this book was a modern man in many respects, I felt a transience of age and issues which dog men today. Perhaps because it was written today, but like I said, it was successful in making one believe that humanity has hardly altered through millenia.

A new book by Penny Minney

Crab’s Odyssey: Malta to Istanbul in an Open Boat
Penny Minney

In the wake of the tales of George Millar in Isabel and the Sea and Ernle Bradford in The Journeying Moon sailing through the Mediterranean after World War II comes Penny Minney’s Crab’s Odyssey recounting the adventures of a group of undergraduates sailing a 17-foot ship’s lifeboat from Malta to Istanbul in the 1950’s. 
It began with the shipwreck of the ferry taking them to join their newly purchased boat on Malta, and ended with them finding an authoritative Ancient Greek historian wrong about the Bosporus passage. In the 1950s, two ordinary second-year students at Somerville College Oxford and their assorted crews sailed more than 1,500 miles in an open boat over four summers.
Joining them at different junctures was a medley of fellow-sailors. To pick up crew at a pre-arranged rendezvous at fortnightly intervals was a juggling act that for one crew member took three nights, eight trains and a ferry. But they only mislaid one – and in the search came close to losing the skipper.
There were no plans for a journey to Istanbul at the outset, but the further they sailed, the more their ambitions grew. There were six major crossings – often with non-stop baling – and much coast-hopping. Tensions on board, unexpected gifts and encounters, and an unexpected proposal: the book vividly recalls a Mediterranean Europe emerging from WWII.

Published by the Taniwha Press UK
ISBN 978-09954699-2-1

Review of Crab's Odyssey on Classics For All

Taniwha press (2016) p/b 296pp £10.50 (ISBN 9780995469921)

In 1955 two young, female Oxford classicists with a passion for sailing, pooled their savings, searched for investors and bought a small, open lifeboat for £90 in which to sail the Mediterranean and the Greek islands. Some of their adventures in Crab, the name of their craft, were narrated in M.’s earlier memoir of her father the novelist Richard Hughes [1], but in this full-scale treatment of the voyages (1955-1958). M.’s father becomes one of a number of friends who formed the rest of the crew, two at a time. Some 60 years after their adventures, M. is able to give a detailed account from the boat’s log and an assortment of letters and recollections. Intrepid or lunatic, the voyagers faced up to some daunting conditions at sea. On land they usually met with a generous reception: ‘Zeus protects the stranger’ said the mother of a very poor family to justify their hospitality, a useful survival from the pagan classical past.
Somerville College supported them with travel grants. Their plans to understand the conditions for sailing ancient merchant ships were generally ‘a shapeless little embryo that would take on form and life as it was fed by what we met as we sailed.’ But they seemingly disprove Rhys Carpenter’s claim that only with the oar power of the penteconter could trade be conducted through the Bosporus, where the wind and strong current from the north made the straits theoretically impassable. Yet Crab succeeded with the help of a tow-rope to the shore, and they later read that before the days of diesel-engines a community had made their living by towing boats past the sharp bend where the current was strongest.
Classical references, either to the sites or the events that they evoke, are scattered through the narrative. Thus the approach to Syracuse elicits a description of the Athenian expedition, the Dardanelles Xerxes’ bridge of boats, while the Asclepieion on Kos has a justifiably scornful comment on the Italian inter-war reconstruction whose columns gleam ‘as if they were made of fondant icing and only lacked a wedding cake to stand on.’ The Odyssey is recalled—and not just in the title–as when they pass the cave reputedly the haunt of Calypso or find a ‘Cyclopean’ cave with a sheep pen inside! There are implicit classical references too: when Penny, who was steering at night, was almost overcome by cold and sleep, she avoided the fate of Palinurus [3] by biting her arm to create a distracting pain: ‘How easy just to fall asleep and drop overboard, probably taking the precious tiller with me.’ Later, on the crossing to Levkas, the same almost happened, but this time she was saved by her crew: ‘I nearly went overboard – I must have momentarily fallen asleep. What was worse, I had the tiller firmly grasped in my hand as I began to fall.’
For any classicist who might assume that the sailing season in the Mediterranean is not full of difficulties and dangers, this account of confronting whatever the sea could throw at a small open boat is salutary reminder that benign weather is only temporary, even in summer. In mid-July for example they were stuck on Lesvos: ‘For the next three days the wind blew too hard for us to venture to sea.’ Whether making good headway or becalmed and needing to deploy their engine (a luxury not afforded the ancient mariners!) or caught in rough seas and needing to seek shelter, their focus is always on currents and winds, hostile shores or sheltered bays, harbour entrances or moorings, crew members or supplies, landmarks, charts and the constant need for the upkeep of their fragile vessel. A foolhardy venture? Perhaps. A character-building adventure? Certainly. This will appeal to anyone interested in sailing the Mediterranean.
[1] Hughes, Penelope, Richard Hughes, Author, Father, Alan Sutton 1984
[2] Carpenter, Rhys, The Greek Penetration of the Black Sea, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 1, 1948
[3] [Somnus] … cumque gubernaclo liquidas proiecit in undas praecipitem, Virgil, Aeneid 5.859-60
Alan Beale