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Old 18-08-2005, 18:28   #1
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In Search of the Real Tristan Jones

Has anyone read the controversial biography of Tristan Jones ?

“Wayward Sailor : In Search of the Real Tristan Jones” ~ by Anthony Dalton

From reviews:

Arguably one of the best loved icons of 20th century nautical literature, Tristan thrilled his readers with sixteen books of adventures on seas and rivers (many of which contained as much fiction as fact - sometimes more), and hundreds of magazine articles. He was a truly fine writer, a superb sailor, a fascinating raconteur - and often extremely casual with the truth, and (reportedly) not a very nice person. Evidently, he had far more enemies than friends, and spent much of his time as an obnoxious drunk.

Tristan Jones was an enigma. No one, not even his closest friends, knew much about him and the first two thirds of his life. He cleverly buried his true history and invented a new one to make himself appear more interesting than he thought himself to be. A natural and gifted story-teller, he had no trouble in convincing most people of his heroic deeds.

He said he was born of Welsh seafaring parents aboard his father’s tramp steamer off the islands of Tristan da Cunha in May 1924 – hence his name - Tristan. Biographical details tell of him growing up in the (non-existent) tiny hamlet of Llangareth, near Barmouth. In fact he was born Arthur Jones, in a Liverpool hospital, on May 8th, 1929. His mother, who may or may not have been Welsh, was unmarried.

He wrote of serving in the Royal Navy during WWII, and of being torpedoed three times before his 18th birthday. Naval records, however, show he signed on in November 1946, at age 17 ½, and served until December 1960. He claimed a long list of international sailing records, few of which he had earned. Among them, over 400,000 miles at sea in small boats – 180,000 of which, he said, he sailed solo. He actually sailed about 75,000 miles, and almost none alone.

Tristan’s major strength was his superb narrative style. He could make words sing. He could hold readers and lecture audiences spell-bound with his tales, fiction and fact. He was a master – a fact recognised by the Welsh Arts Council, who awarded him a literary prize in 1979. In 1991 he also won the John Morgan Prize for Literature.

Jones passed away, from a stroke, in Thailand in 1995.

Gord May
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Old 19-08-2005, 05:03   #2
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Not yet, but it is on the list. It seems that people writing about Tristan Jones have a far more critical view of him than those that speak of him in person. For example: "Sailing Among The Stars". Not a biography, but more of a general critic of Tristan's life.

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Old 20-08-2005, 01:18   #3
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Sea Stories

I attended an evening with Tristan Jones in the mid 80’s in San Diego. By then he had only one leg and was accompanied by his young Thai “house boy.” He spun wonderful tales, but I was reminded of the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story.

A fairy tale begins “Once upon a time. . . “
A sea story begins “This is no bull s---“

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Old 20-08-2005, 11:36   #4
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No, not read this one yet, but have probably read all his books.

(Another advantage of living in Ft. Lauderdale is the proximity to the SSCA Library..:-)
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Old 20-08-2005, 20:12   #5
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If anyone is interested, several of his books are on at the moment. You will find them in the boating section.
Hmmm, maybe I should be buying them instead.

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Old 22-08-2005, 05:29   #6
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Only the Welsh can spin a yarn like that. (Speaking as a Welshman)

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