Originally Posted by MedSailor
That book was called "ICE!" by Tristan Jones.
I've heard Tristan Jones has been accused of making up many of his tales or at least exaggerating when he tells them. I particularly enjoyed my first book of his "The Improbable Voyage" and I read it with a bit of suspicion.
There were several points where I thought "This has to be exaggeration!" and invariably when I would reach that point, there would be photographic proof on the next page. I think the guy probably did do everything he said he did, based on the photos that prove the rest. ICE! was a heck of a read also. At one point he dug a trench and hauled his boat UP AND OVER an iceberg to get to clear water on the other side. Meanwhile a polar bear was circling.
Tristan Jones was a master storyteller, a great sailor who had some remarkable exploits in a variety of small craft... Even if one only took those things that he actually did into account, he would still rate as one of the most extraordinary sailors who ever lived...
Unfortunately, he "embellished" and fabricated much of what he claimed to have done to a remarkable degree, much of that initially "enabled" by Patience Wales at SAIL magazine... Huge swaths of his biography and sailing resume are pure invention, bearing precious little resemblance to the truth...
Beginning right from the story of his birth, he claimed he was given the name "Tristan" after having been born aboard a tramp steamer on a voyage to one of the most remote islands on earth, Tristan de Cunha... In reality, he was born Arthur Jones, the illegitimate offspring of a working class girl in Liverpool, and spent much of his childhood in an orphanage...
Another example... From the publisher of HEART OF OAK, his account of his naval experiences in WW II:
Following the account of his childhood and his early years aboard in A Steady Trade, Tristan Jones now looks back to his years 'below decks' in the Royal Navy during World War II. It is 1940; discharged from his sailing barge, Tristan is thrown among wartime recruits from all walks of life and after a period of instruction and a fair share of punishment on HMS GANGES, he goes to sea; first on transatlantic convoy duties, and later on the arduous Arctic runs to Russia. He was sunk three times before he was 18 years old.
From the destroyer HMS ECLECTIC, Tristan witnessed the battle between HMS HOOD and the BISMARCK, including the thrilling pursuit and eventual sinking of the German battleship. He also witnessed the battle in which the SCHARNHORST was sunk in 1943. Although most of this book takes place at sea, we also join Tristan at home and on leave, sharing with him experiences both comic and poignant.
Only one problem with that one... Jones didn't join the Royal Navy until 1946...
For a fascinating account of the extent to which such a man can become a creature and a legend largely of his own invention, I highly recommend Anthony Dalton's WAYWARD SAILOR:IN SEARCH OF THE REAL TRISTAN JONES...