Thursday, July 05, 2012

Dwight Long and Sailing All Seas

One of the truly great things about being a bookdealer is that no one expects you to have read everything you sell and yet you are expected to know a little about everything you offer. Because of this, you are constantly drawn into the stories behind books and often these are stories that you would otherwise never come across. I am currently working my way through a huge lot of maritime and sailing books that I bought at auction and in the process picked up this utterly unassuming looking thing (below) Sailing All Seas in the "Idle Hour" by Dwight Long, a 1940 reprint of the 1930s first edition.

Dwight Long is pictured above (on the left) with Zane Grey whom he met on an epic voyage around the world in a small wooden ketch called "Idle Hour". If you are thinking that Mr Long looks rather young, you'd be right. He was 21 in 1934 when he left Seattle and set out on a six year journey which would take him down the coast of America, out across the Pacific and island hopping through the South Pacific until he eventually reached Australia. He then sailed up around the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal and across the Med, then up to London before nipping across the Atlantic, down the Eastern Seaboard and on the West Indies, through the Panama Canal and up the other side to home in Seattle. He suffered all manner of adventures and having just read only a summary of the voyage it is quite simply a miracle that he lived through it.

Sadly, not everyone involved in the trip did live through it. The caption in the book to the picture below is "To Timi, who gave his all for my cruise" Long had numerous companions on his voyage but most affecting is the story of Timi who he took on board on Bora Bora, a 15 year old with no experience of the world at all. Timi was introduced to the size and scope of the world by his two years travelling with Long but sadly, it was to be his only experience as he died of Pneumonia in Ceylon.

Long was home just in time to join the US Navy in time for WW2 and go back to sea. His journey around the world was captured on film and there is a movie titled after the book, "Sailing all Seas". Sadly, I can't find it online at the moment. However, Long went on to become a documentary film maker and documented, in colour, the fighting lives of the men on board the US aircraft carrier Yorktown during WW2. His documentary "The Fighting Lady" is something of a masterpiece of the time and is available in full on Youtube, the first of seven parts being available here.

Now, of course, selling the book becomes much more difficult...

1 comment:

J said...

He only died in 2001; I was amazed not to find him on Wikipedia.

Who links to my website?