TYGER: An Ice Captain Reflects…
I always enjoy hearing from readers – and of all my Kydd tales to date I think Tyger has elicited the most comments, either on social media or in personal emails to me. It’s very gratifying to learn that so many readers +live the adventure+ with Thomas Kydd as he voyages around the world. And it’s particularly satisfying to hear from Old Salts that the books have brought back memories of their own time at sea. Captain Richard Smith, a retired Canadian Coast Guard Captain is one such…
“Each spring I eagerly await the arrival of your latest book in Canada. I could not put Tyger down until I had read the whole book. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the marriage of history with our favourite fictional characters. As a (now retired) Captain in the Canadian Coast Guard and having spent some measure of time in the ice off eastern Canada and the Arctic I can attest to the concerns of any ship’s master when navigating in or near ice. I can only imagine the concerns of trying to navigate a square rigged ship into ice infested areas of the high Arctic. Most areas were (and still are) poorly charted or not charted at all. Local knowledge becomes vital when navigating in these areas and getting that knowledge into chart and sailing direction formats takes considerable time.
I was Captain of CSS Hudson, a 300 ft multi disciplinary science ship, which was sent to Hudson Bay in 1995-6 to do a hydrographic survey of Rankin Inlet. It was a very dangerous, rock infested place on the western side of Hudson Bay. Once there we familiarized ourselves with the area and got on with the survey. We had five 30ft survey launches and a Bell helicopter on deck. Just as we were making some progress a huge storm came up with 90 mile per hour easterly winds. I took the ship out into the bay and hove to, but at one in the morning at the height of the storm the steering gear malfunctioned and the ship went beam on to the seas. She went into synchronous rolling and dipped the lifeboats and launches into the water. Lots of equipment shifted in the hold and things were not going well. As with any captain I feared the worst might happen. I had one chance and that was with the engines. Luckily we had a twin screw ship. I hauled the starboard shaft to stop and shoved the port shaft full ahead. Finally the ship started to come up into the wind and I continued to steer the ship with the engines until the engineers fixed the steering. It was a wild few days!
Your description of Tyger taking on water after the battle reminded me of my own experiences over a 40 year sea going career and how many times we face stressful times at sea.
I enjoy the fact that many of the characters you have created (such as Stirk) are still with Kydd. As a man who came aft through the hawse to become captain, I find Kydd reminds me of my own career progression and the challenges I faced. Many of the shipmates that sailed with me when I was a seaman were with me at various times in other ships when I was mate and master. I remember them fondly for the shipmates and friends they were.
It’s been 14 years now that I have been reading your books – and I look forward to the next adventure for Captain Kydd.”