By Paul Heiney
Published by Adlard Coles Nautical, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 230 pages hardcover $26
In 1988, British TV presenter Paul Heiney and his wife, Libby Purves, and their two small children sailed all the way around Great Britain on their Cornish pilot cutter. Heiney’s son Nicholas shared his love of sailing, and by age twenty-one he had sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on a tall ship. Tortured by mental illness for many years, he took his own life at twenty-three.
Nicholas was a gifted poet, and many of his posthumously-published works are about the sea. Wishing to reconnect with memories of happier times with his departed son, the author decided to embark on a voyage they might have shared together. In 2011, he set off from Falmouth, England – alone aboard Wild Song, the family’s modest cruising boat – bound for the fearsome waters off the southernmost tip of South America known as the ‘uttermost end of the Earth’: Cape Horn.
Seeking to experience the same thrill of discovery that Nicholas had, the author set off on an 18,000 mile journey through the ‘Furious Fifties,’ around the Horn and back home (11,000 miles singlehanded and 7,000 with one crew), determined to gain a better understanding of his lost son through his poetry, particularly the hauntingly beautiful ‘Silence at the Song’s End.’ A beautifully crafted story of adventure and solace, One Wild Song is highly recommended.
Introduced to sailing by chance in his early 20s, Paul Heiney has competed in a singlehanded transatlantic race and cruised the waters of the United Kingdom extensively. He is the presenter of Countrywise on ITV1, and an enthusiastic and proud member of the Royal Cruising Club. ■