Just Sea and Sky is as rich as adventurous sailing yarns come; a tonic for the modern day sailor surrounded by electronics.
Set aboard Tern II, a purposeful Victorian gentleman’s yacht, Just Sea and Sky is the story of a young naval officer granted leave to sail from England to New Zealand in the 1950’s.
Ben Pester encapsulates elements of a rapidly modernising world. An engineering officer on the state of the art HMS Eagle aircraft carrier, the first Royal Navy ship to usher in the jet age of naval aviation, Pester’s professional life is one lived at the cutting edge of marine technology. The adventure he takes aboard Turn II though is quite the opposite; one un-diluted by technology, where the yacht’s position is found using a Nazi sextant captured from a WWII submarine.
Pester pays homage to the generation of yachtsmen before him, particularly the yacht’s previous owner, Claude Worth- owner of a series of Terns. A lifelong sailor, he was found dead at the helm by French fishermen. ‘He died upon the sea, sitting in the cockpit of the little Perseus, his face toward the sky, whilst he was sailing up the silver path of the moon, which seemed to unite heaven and the sea.’
There’s honesty and amateurism in abundance. Pester’s confessions of things gone wrong on his epic voyage are those of the realist. He paints an intimidating picture of Ushant saturated with shipping long before a Traffic Separation Scheme was introduced, whilst Tern II’s Victorian simplicity provides pleasure and pain in equal measure to her two crew.
Simply, one of the best tales of bluewater adventure.