Hard back book, grey boards, embossed title 8”x 5”, 418 pages, frontispiece portrait, eight engravings, six drawings – lines of vessels, eight charts of voyages.
Richard Turrill McMullen (1830–1891) was a British yachtsman known as a pioneer of small sail boat cruising. He was a prosperous member of the London Stock Exchange, who at times could afford to leave business during the summer months, sometimes for weeks on end, to indulge his hobby of small boat sailing. He had a succession of small craft Leo, Sirius, Orion, Procryon and Perseus, the first two of which were built by J. Thompson of Rotherhithe
As the names suggest, he was also interested in astronomy, which he combined with some unorthodox religious views – he thought that “Heaven” was probably in the Sun and “Hell” in one of the other planets of the Solar System. He also held some robust political views, thinking that money should not be wasted on over educating the “working classes”. One can only imagine his reaction to the kind of university degree courses on offer nowadays on “Golf Course Design” or “Making Costume Jewelry”…
When he began cruising, he used to hire one or two men or boys from the Gravesend waterfront as “Hands”. His single – handed voyages began when he discharged his crew of two in France for insolence, and having given them money for travel home, sailed single handed back to England. In due course starting with cruises in the English Channel, he began ranging further afield in British waters and although Mrs. McMullen sometimes accompanied him (such a cruise is only mentioned once in the book) he does not say if she participated in handling the vessel). On the occasion referred to, after a rough few days in the Western Isles, he left his craft and escorted his wife to Glasgow, and a Southbound Express, taking her to a few more restful days at a Channel resort.
He is very honest about his mistakes. For example, on taking delivery of Leo he misjudged the tidal state of the river and the length of mooring required, finding the following morning that the rising tide had submerged the brand new craft.
In 1891,McMullen set sail in the 6 ton lugger Perseus solo bound for France.. On 15 July his vessel was boarded by some French fishermen and McMullen was found dead of a heart attack in the cockpit of the vessel with his hand still on the tiller. He was brought ashore in France and buried there.