Episode 54 of The Sailing Podcast is with Peter Heiberg who shares his stories about a life at sea in his book Lee Shore Blues: Sex, Drugs and Bluewater Sailing
Peter restored a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter and owned it for 35 years. After working as a commercial skipper for many years he entered the world of single-handed yacht racing.
Peter competed in a race he describes as ‘the bug light for weirdos’. He is referring to the Transpac race from San Francisco to Hawaii. Peter was first to finish in 2014, despite admitting to reading ‘a dozen or so’ books while underway. This voyage was in a PJ50 aluminum yacht called Scaramouche, which sits outside his home in Gibson, near Vancouver, BC.
In this episode we hear about:
- The book Lee Shore Blues
- What a real Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter is
- Sailing Carlotta from England to Canada via Panama and Hawaii
- Meeting the Hiscocks and Jimmy Buffet
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Lee Shore Blues: Sex, Drugs and Bluewater Sailing
I was sent a copy of Peter Heiberg’s book to read before I interviewed Peter. I found it was a delight to read with a great mix of stories, which always looked at life with a ‘glass half full’ drop of humour. The chapters read like a set of short stories, letting the reader fit in a couple of stories whenever it suits.
Peter Helberg explained during the interview how his book started as a collection of stories to share with his children. I am really glad he decided to self-publish Lee Shore Blues so that we could all enjoy a few stories about a lifetime spent at sea. We chatted mainly about the sailing side of things although the book Lee Shore Blues includes many other stories of Peter’s time as a commercial skipper of many vessels, from fishing boats to cruise ships.
The early part of the story begins with how Peter ended up in England. This then leads to finding Carlotta, a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter he restored. Peter said he always looked back as he rowed away from Carlotta and thought it was a beautiful boat. The relationship between Peter and Carlotta lasted over 35 years and included travelling from England to St Barths. The trip across the Atlantic had a couple of false starts, as the ocean quickly taught a younger Peter how changeable the Bay of Biscay can be.
Here is a YouTube video I found of Carlotta shot in 1965 (The year I was born. BTW, that makes me 50 one week ago).
During the second part of the conversation we hear about Peter’s next yacht, Scaramouche V, a PJ50 and how he decided to explore the world of yacht racing. Even Peter admits this was a reckless endevour for someone with a ‘union job’ and a limited budget. He even went so far as to compete in the Transpac, a single-handed race from San Francisco to Hawaii, gaining the Jack London Trophy for being first to finish (as opposed to finishing first). Here is a clip from the video diary Peter created on YouTube about the trip:
Sailing Books you should read
Peter has included his library in the appendix of the book and we talked briefly about a couple of books in his collection. In particular, I had asked Peter about meeting Eric and Susan Hiscock. Peter pointed out the 2 wonderful books written by the Hiscocks, which encapsulate all the coastal and world cruising knowledge a sailor should have. These are links to the books by Eric Hiscock on Amazon.com
Cruising Under Sail – this copy appears to incorporate voyaging under sail and has 251 Photographs and 102 Diagrams
or you can find the original book on Amazon – Voyaging Under Sail
In a follow up to the last episode with Yves Gelinas, I was corresponding with Don Peebles and he recommended another great sailing movie – Beyond the Western Horizon, a movie made by Eric Hiscock about their journeys in the early 1950s.
Thanks for listening to the podcast and I hope you have a great day and thank you for joining us on our journey
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