Magazine article Geographical

The Sails Man

Magazine article Geographical

The Sails Man

Article excerpt

Peter Nichols was many things before becoming a writer, including a yacht captain, a journalist and a smuggler. His book about 1968's Golden Globe race, A Voyage for Madmen, is out now

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PLACE YOU VISITED OVERSEAS? I'm an American and the first place I went to overseas was France at the age of eight for a summer-long vacation where I stayed with a host family. The following year, I moved with my family from Connecticut, the state in which I was born in the USA, to England. We lived in Sevenoaks, Kent.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF HEAVEN ON EARTH? A place where I can read without having to worry about the other things I could or should be doing. Heaven, I guess, is being able to make my living by writing, which is what I do.

AND WHAT ABOUT HELL? Hell would be not being able to write. For many years, after the time I spent writing screenplays, I did not write. I never really doubted my ability, and it was just frustrating not writing anything -- not doing what I really wanted to do.

WHO ARE YOUR BEST TRAVELLING COMPANIONS? My second wife, Annie, from whom I am now divorced was my best travelling companion, and I'd happily go anywhere with her again. She is an air stewardess and the greatest traveller I've ever met. She's been everywhere and she knows how to do it all with one bag. And most importantly, in that bag she has everything you will ever need.

WHO ARE YOUR WORST TRAVELLING COMPANIONS? While I was working on the movie Cutthroat Island, I travelled with the director Renny Harlin and his wife, the actress Geena Davis. We were looking for a boat to use as a pirate ship, and eventually found an Indonesian schooner. The pair had to be mollycoddled and treated like royalty or they'd throw tantrums. They had to be catered for in the most fantastical ways. They were ludicrous and preposterous. Geena wore a sailor suit for the entire trip.

WHO IS THE MOST MEMORABLE PERSON YOU'VE MET? My mother. She is the only true bohemian I have ever known. She was a painter, while my father was in advertising. I think the reason they moved was because they were fed up with the crassness of US culture and so they brought us to England, for which I am eternally grateful.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST MOMENT? I've had three I would say, a couple of which I can't really talk about. …

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