Episode 35 of The Sailing Podcast is an interview with Luca Schueli of Ecoswiss Expeditions who offer the opportunity for sailors to join their research vessel as it explores the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma).
The Mergui Archipelago is a group of over 800 islands located off the coast of Burma, which due to the political situation in Myanmar remain relatively untouched by tourism. Most cruising sailors choose not to visit this pristine environment due to the high cost of cruising permits – often costing thousands of dollars.
In the interview we hear how:
- Luca originally sailed from Europe to Thailand over 20 years ago on his catamaran
- He went on to design a sailing catamaran more suitable for Ecoswiss expeditions and tours
- Tristan Jones was chartering the yacht at one stage and Luca’s impressions of Tristan
- The permit system in Myanmar has made it difficult for the average sailor to access the Mergui Archipelago
- Joining their expeditions helps to support the work done by EcoSwiss Expeditions
Click on the media player below to listen
Show Notes for Ecoswiss Expeditions
EcoSwiss Expeditions has been carrying out research and conservation in Myanmar since 1993 and is a Swiss non-profit association. They are dedicated to protecting the Mergui Archipelago and their research was a major factor in achieving the status of the Lampi Island National Park.
You can find out more at their website – www.ecoswiss.org and you will find opportunity there to join them for a trip from Thailand into Burma and explore the Mergui Archipelago.
There are a couple of different ways to travel with EcoSwiss Expeditions:
- As Eco-Volunteers who will join a research expeditions and directly assist the scientists with their research
- As Eco-Tourists on an awareness cruise through the Mergui Archipelago – with income from cruises helping to support the EcoSwiss research programs
I found it very interesting to have talked to someone who had known and worked with the adventure sailing author Tristan Jones. Jones wrote several books including:
- The Incredible Voyage
- Encounters of a Wayward Sailor
- One Hand for Yourself One for the Ship: The Essentials of Single Handed Sailing
There are many people (including myself) who loved reading these adventure stories and Jones has a great writing style that keeps you following along with the adventure and it was with some disappointment that I found there had been a biography written by Anthony Dalton called Wayward Sailor that questions some of the truth about Tristan Jones. Here is the book description from Amazon:
He died in 1995, but his nautical adventure books continue to bring entertainment and escape to legions of fans worldwide. He was larger than life, perhaps the most successful sailing writer of the twentieth century. But, as Anthony Dalton’s meticulously researched biography reveals, Tristan Jones was not who he said he was.
Wayward Sailor began as an uncomplicated tribute to a great adventurer and writer, but one line of inquiry branched to another, plunging Dalton into a three-year odyssey of his own. With the cooperation of Tristan’s friends and supporters, Dalton pursued Tristan’s life through correspondence, logbooks, government documents, and interviews worldwide. With each new revelation, Tristan’s voyage through life seemed more and more like his greatest adventure.
His real name was Arthur Jones. He was born in Liverpool in 1929, the illegitimate son of a working-class Lancashire girl, and he grew up in orphanages with little education. Too young to see action in the World War II naval battles he would later write about so movingly, he joined the Royal Navy in 1946 and served fourteen unremarkable years.
Arthur Jones then bought an old sailboat and tried his hand at smuggling whiskey cross-Channel. In his early thirties he sailed into a Mediterranean limbo, scraping a living from charters by day and haunting the bars of Ibiza by night. When he was drunk, which was often, he could be loud and obnoxious and had the scars to prove it. He had no family, no attachments, no accomplishments.
Then came a midlife sea change. Arthur Jones looked into his future, imagined greatness, and began to claw his way to it. Having taught himself to sail, he taught himself to write. He was a natural at both. As Tristan Jones, in his midforties, he sailed out of Brazil’s Mato Grosso and into a Greenwich Village apartment to write six books in three years and reinvent his past.
The Tristan Jones of his books was born in a storm at sea in 1924 on his father’s tramp steamer; was torpedoed three time in epic World War II engagements; completed the first circumnavigation of Iceland; traveled farther north and farther up the Amazon River than any sailor before him; and sailed more than 400,000 miles, 180,000 of them solo. Readers loved his books and crowded his lectures and signings. He had a bard’s voice and a street performer’s delivery. He had more renown than he could have dreamed.
Having invented a life, Tristan Jones tried to live it. After the amputation of his left leg in 1982 he sailed more than halfway around the world. He lost his right leg in 1991 yet still returned briefly to sea. But as his body failed him, so too did his spirits. It was as if the life from which he’d bodily lifted himself were pulling him down again. He died a bitter man.
Wayward Sailor is the biography Tristan Jones did not want. His books were autobiographical, he said; there was no more to tell. But there was. Wayward Sailor is the last Tristan Jones story and the most incredible one of all: the story of a man who invented himself.
Have you read this biography of Tristan Jones or do you know something of the stories behind him? Please let me know in the comment section below. I have yet to read the Dalton book – will it ruin my enjoyment of the books written by Jones?
- I have an upcoming episode with Paul and Sheryl Shard of Distant Shores TV and we have a great giveaway planned of some DVDs. Keep an eye out for this episode of The Sailing Podcast
Thank you for joining us on our journey
By David Anderson
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