Come Home, Sailor
Come Home, Sailor
Following his book Yes Dad, I Want to Go to Sea!, Eric Kemp continues his story with his career change from lengthy deep-sea voyages, to a more family friendly lifestyle working from Penzance for the Trinity House Steam Vessel Service. It was while relieving crews and servicing lighthouses and lightships on board THV Stella, that Eric witnessed the notorious Torrey Canyon oil-tanker disaster near Land's End.
By now well established in his hometown of St. Ives, Eric was elected onto the Borough Council, where he helped win public access to previously secret committee meetings, but soon realised he was considered a bit of a maverick within the system. He also now became Captain of the Queen of the Isles, one of the two ships running between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, a post he held until the ship was sold.
At this point Eric became a self-employed Trinity House Pilot for the port of Penzance; purchasing his own boats and employing crew members to help. His expertise in handling shipping within and around Mount's Bay is reflected through his own experiences and those of the characters on board the ships and boats arriving at the port.
Also appointed the Managing Secretary of the St. Ives Lifeboat Station, he recounts in well-remembered detail a number of the amazing rescues and sad tragedies that took place with both the inshore and offshore lifeboats during the period of the 1970s and 80s, including occasions that were commended with royal approval.
Now retired, Captain Eric Kemp can look back at a long and fulfilling sea-going career where, whether working with captains, coastguards and harbour masters, or rubbing shoulders with royalty, he has always responded to those around him with good grace and humour.
42 b/w photographs
About the author:
Eric Kemp was educated in St. Ives schools and Truro School in Cornwall. From here he followed his father into the Merchant Navy, joining HMS Worcester for cadet training in 1953.
He became an apprentice with the Ellerman and Bucknall Steamship Company, later becoming a second officer with the Palm Line. During his years with these two companies he travelled around the world.
As described in this book, Eric achieved chief officer status with the Trinity House Steamship Vessel Service, and finally became a master on the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company’s ferry RMS Queen of the Isles. He also later served with the Carisbrook Shipping Company based on the Isle of Wight.
With his wife Jill and their two children, he has remained based in St. Ives, becoming a Trinity House pilot for Mount’s Bay and a Cornish fisheries officer in MAFF. He has also been the St. Ives Lifeboat Secretary and a Liberal councillor. In the year 2000 he was Chairman of the Newlyn Fish Festival and is a member of the well-known Mousehole Male Voice Choir. In his role as a local Methodist preacher he is the Senior Steward of the Carbis Bay Wesley Methodist Church.
With his odd spare time Eric helps at the St. Ives Museum where he can put his Merchant Navy knowledge to good use, and gives talks to various local societies about his experiences at sea and working on the Cornish coast.