Hell Around the Horn

Hell Around the Horn is available now on Kindle and in print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other on-line retailers.

In 1905, a young ship’s captain and his family set sail on the windjammer, Lady Rebecca, from Cardiff, Wales with a cargo of coal bound for Chile, by way of Cape Horn.  Before they reach the Southern Ocean, the cargo catches fire, the mate threatens mutiny and one of the crew may be going mad.  The greatest challenge, however, will prove to be surviving the vicious westerly winds and mountainous seas of the worst Cape Horn winter in memory.  Told from the perspective of the Captain, his wife, a first year apprentice and an American sailor before the mast, Hell Around the Horn is a story of survival and the human spirit in the last days of the great age of sail.

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Praise for Hell Around the Horn:

Rick Spilman brings alive the rough and tumble world of the windjammer with authentic and well-chosen detail, in a voice that is at once historically authentic, yet fresh as a salty gale. One hand for yourself and one for the ship on this fast-paced and gripping ride. – Linda Collison, author of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventures.

Battling against endless contrary gales, constantly struck with disaster and tragedy, the crew of the Lady Rebecca encountered the same privations that hundreds of unsung sailors endured. As well as a story that grips with gathering tension, this book memorializes the gallant windjammer sailors of a largely forgotten eraJoan Druett, award winning nautical historian, novelist and author of Tupaia

A much neglected period of sailing history is brought to life by Spilman’s fast-moving narrative and apt use of fact and detail.Alaric Bond, author of the Fighting Sail series of novels.


Hell Around the Horn — 7 Comments

  1. I read all the books that inspired you to write this novel and I say “thank you”. You brought the perils and tribulations of the voyage to life in a way non-fiction never could.
    Fred’s musings about being below 50 South was some of the best sea writing I ever read, and I’ve read plenty. Kudos to you!

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this book. The hardships the captain and crew endured were tremendous. It is a wonder anyone survived and was able to ever want to step onto a ship again. You told this story beautifully. You were able to make the characters come alive. You made them seem real. You portrayed the horrific weather and sea conditions so well that it made this reader glad to be able to read this book in the comfort of a warm place. Thank you so much.

  3. I enjoyed reading your book. I live on a sail boat 1 week out of every year down around the Bahama Islands. This book helps me to see what yesteryears were like. Thank you for writing this book.

  4. I was quite leary as I began reading. I didn’t see the mystery involvement. But then I realized the mystery was in the voyage itself. A damned good book that truly shows what life was like back in the day. For a landlubber who prefers mountains and forests I was amazed being along on this journey. Congrats on writing something about which I know very little and made it entirely interesting. I have seen the Star of India in San Diego and if I ever return (went through MarCorps boot camp there) that will be on my list to do.

  5. I was in the U. S. Navy back in the 50’s and have always loved the sea and sea stories. Did service on the CVL 48 USS Saipan and fortunate to make a Midshipman cruise to Brazil. Sailed through the mirror calm south Atlantic and on south to Santos Brazil. Coming out of Santos Harbor in to angry seas and into stormy conditions. We experienced not rogue waves but seas that tossed breaking waves onto the flight deck. As I started reading your book, I was captured and could hardly put it down. Thank you for this story.

  6. Just read your book and I enjoyed it immensely . I sailed all my life on freighters and then on large crane vessels involved in offshore construction .As a MM I have a keen interest in how things were , going to sea and how going to sea has changed so much .Reading your book we wonder how the seafarer survived such conditions and the feats of seamanship were incredible .Its sad to say going to sea in the modern era bears no resemblance to going to sea in the past . I am retired having started in 1959 as an apprentice , not the hardship it was for the apprentices on the “LADY REBECCA” .Great read and my imagination was whetted with each page , well done.

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