Eight Bells and Topmasts

14th January 2006, 09:59
Great reading by Christopher Lee. What it was like in the 50's

Tom Haywood
13th March 2006, 01:55
A good read, reading it at the moment.Just left Korea (minus salt) for Japan.

Roger Turner
4th October 2006, 20:59
Great reading by Christopher Lee. What it was like in the 50's
Just finished reading this excellent account of tramping in the fifties, it explained a lot about the relevance of the demise of Empire and the changing of shipping to the new order i.e. Bulk carriers and Container vessels, a period which I was at sea through 53-62, but as usual the player doesn`t always see as much of the game as the spectator.
Reference another interesting current thread regarding shipping in Hong Kong, there is a good account of this vessel`s visit to Hong Kong and the dry docking process, "dockyard mateys" and Hong Kong Mary`s gang.

Steve Hodges
14th July 2007, 22:30
Just came across this book in a 2/H bookshop in Hay on Wye - read it within the week. A really engrossing account of a deck apprentices first trip in the late 50's, tramping with the old Saint Line. Heartily recommended.(Thumb)


christopher lee
26th January 2009, 15:17
Thank you Steve & co for your enthusiasm. The book is dedicated to James Eamon MacCobb, Master Mariner. Jim MacCobb as manyu members will have heard, died in December 2008. He was 90. He was the mate who chased us 24/7 in Eight Bells. Shortly before he died, he asked me to do the sequel. The publishers, Constable, are looking at the idea at the moment. It's a fashionable period and they're interested in how a lad of 16 joined a ship and so never really had a teen-age life. Act your age, said MacCobb. But Mister Mate, I am. I'm 16! Not on this ******* shp your not. I will post the result of Constable's deliberations. But I would encourage others to write of their experiences, now and then. You're historians of an intriguing period of British history.

27th January 2009, 12:09
Got it for Christmas, and had read it by the return to work in the New Year !

It's a great book, well written, and though before my time at sea in the 1970's, a fascinating account of a period of history now being forgotten.

Looking forward to the follow-up ....

Thanks Chris ....

19th February 2009, 19:05
I got the book when it first came out and enjoyed it very much. The title put me "out of gear" for a while as I had just completed my massive manuscript EIGHT BELLS that covered my years at sea from early 1961 until late 1992. It would have sounded too similar, so I changed it to IT ALL RUBS OFF WHEN IT'S DRY. That had to be knocked on the head though when (after years of rejections), I finally found a Scottish publisher that would take it on. However, they said it was far too long and they would take the second half only, if I rewrote it to their specifications. Considering two previous publishers had said the same and then after each re-write (a year for each), had changed their minds and wouldn't even read the re-write - I said "No, take it, or leave it!" I was pretty fed up by then and couldn't care less. The "left it," but after two weeks, contacted me again to say they had changed their minds and would take it. Everything went smoothly after that and it came out with it's final title in 2006. But from acceptance to publication was another year. It has virtually sold out from the publishers now, but is still on Amazon and selling all over the World. After a year, the Amazon price slumped from 14.99 to about 5, but it has recently shot up again to almost the original price.
I am not detracting from EIGHT BELLS AND TOPMASTS, but my point is that if you do produce a manuscript, be prepared for maybe years of searching for a publisher and a lot of aggro along the way. It is a very slow process. I hope they will take the first half of the original manuscript, but I am not actually trying - I am thoroughly fed up with the whole idea of book writing! I complete it in 1999 and it did not come out until 2006. I don't regert doing it and it has never had a bad review. But the number of times I got the parrot-like "No-ones interested in personal recollections about boats these days!"

Sometimes I feel that publishers and the great British Public think that the Royal Navy consisted of only VICTORY and BOUNTY and the Merchant Navy consisted of only TITANIC and CUTTY SARK - full stop!

I still write, but I find that an article that article writing fetches about 30 an hour. But again, it took many years to get my "foot in the door" of a reputable nautical journal to the stage where I am in every issue!

Once the manuscript is complete you need a very great deal of persistance and patience to say nothing of requiring a "thick skin" as well.

I remember a Snoopy cartoon, where he was in a "writing phase." The publisher said "Please find enclosed, a book of rejection slips to cover your next few books!" That is really what it felt like sometimes!