Biography of Bill Tilman - book review - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 2 Old 03-11-2013 Thread Starter
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Biography of Bill Tilman - book review

Bill Tilman was probably the greatest adventure sailor of the 20th century. Slocum, of course, would have to take the accolade for the 19th century. So itís unfortunate that, while many sailors may have heard of Tilman, probably few are aware of how many voyages he made to the Arctic, South America, around Africa and to Antarctica. Here was a man driven by a thirst for adventure Ė he was 79 years old when he was lost at sea in 1977.

I confess that Iíd heard the name but had little idea of Tilmanís voyages when I ordered the door-stopper 956-page compendium of his eight sailing-mountaineering books to read over this winter away from Kuan Yin.

But I became so intrigued to know more about Tilman that I located the biography of him by Tim Madge to find out more.

The Last Hero, Bill Tilman; A Biography of the Explorer by Tim Madge was published in 1995 and is a highly readable and straightforward account of an extraordinary man. I've posted an account of Tilman's life and review of Madge's book on my website:

Currently retracing the voyage in 1811 of an Inuit family and two missionaries north along the coast of Labrador to Ungava Bay, in northern Canada.
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post #2 of 2 Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Biography of Bill Tilman - book review

Cool. He and his buddy Eric Shipton set the bar for what they called "back-of-the-envelope"expeditions. They said (paraphrasing) "Any adventure worth having can be planned on the back of an envelope." It's an approach most sailors (and alas, some modern climbers) find reprehensible, but they certainly had a good time. Amazing they lived as long as they did -- Shipton dying of natural causes, Tilman at age 78 on somebody else's dodgy boat. It has led some to speculate their approach was not quite as spontaneous as it seemed. Or they were really lucky. Or really good at the game. Probably some of each. Lots of respect for Tilman.

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