Some dust-jackets have the information that Dudley's great grandfather owned a shipyard in Plymouth in Nelson's time. As Dudley's great grandfather and great uncle were 14 and 19 in 1805, when Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar this was not the case. I am not sure whether Dudley's great great grandfather owned this shipyard or whether it was his great,great uncle.
We don't know when the family moved to Plymouth from their home near Padstow, in north Cornwall.
Thomas Pope,the eldest brother and John, Dudley's great grandfather, went out to Canada in about 1818. John had become a Methodist missionary, and Thomas left to take care of family interests in the timber trade for the shipyard in Plymouth.
John Pope then went to carry the word of God to St Vincent, in 1823, where he married. (It pleases me that Dudley's great grandfather was also out here in the West Indies, for a while).
Thomas returned to England from Canada and died very suddenly in 1924. John Pope returned to Plymouth from St Vincent to run the family business a year or so later. He remained a Methodist preacher on Sundays.
In 1942, when Dudley was sixteen, Dudley's school in Kent was evacuated to the west country, but he stayed behind with his family. Near the end of that year he lied about his age by saying the was seventeen and joined the Silver Line, becoming a cadet in one of their merchant ships. They sailed between Liverpool and West Africa, carrying groundnut oil for margarine.
Dudley's ship was torpedoed in a gale in the Atlantic on the latitude of Madeira. He and a few survivors, including the captain, were in a lifeboat for two weeks. Because of his injuries, he was invalided out of the Service.
At 18 when his call-up papers came in the post, Dudley tried to join the Royal Navy. But the Review Board told him he had already done his part for the war effort, and to get on with the rest of his life.
Dudley now became a journalist.
In the late 1940s Dudley had his first boat, Red Gryphon, which was about 21 feet long. He joined the JOG (Junior Offshore Group), the members of which raced from small ports on the British coast across the Channel to small ports on the French coast. They were a hardy lot and raced in any weather.
Dudley sailed to Copenhagen in the Red Gryphon in 1947 or 48, and was one of the first yachts to come to Denmark since the World War I1. A lot of fuss was made over him and Dudley made many friends who later assisted us when we did the research in Copenhagen in 1961 for the the book THE GREAT GAMBLE: the Battle of Copenhagen.
When I met Dudley in 1953, he had just graduated to a larger boat. He had bought a William Fife 8-meter, which he was living on board. She was called Concerto and she became my first home with Dudley after we were married in 1954. Although we did occasionally have short spells living ashore, when selling one boat and buying another (larger for more living space).
We lived in Porto Santo Stefano Italy from 1959 to 1963. The harbour was not comfortable for living on board during the winter so we had our ketch Tokay hauled out at a boatyard in the autumn and launched in the Spring. We rented a house (with a sea view, of course!), and sailed the ketch in the summer.
In September 1963 we returned to England where we had bought the 53 foot cutter Golden Dragon and moved on board where she lay on the east coast. In July 1965 we cruised down the coasts of Spain and Portugal, to Gibraltar, and then to the Canary Islands. Early November of the same year we then sailed across the Atlantic to Barbados and Grenada, where we stayed three years.
Our daughter, Victoria was 4 months old when we left the UK and 10 months when we arrived in Barbados. In April 1968 we moved on board Ramage in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands and lost our mainmast off St Croix, when attempting to return to Grenada.
We spent the next nine years between the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and then went to Antigua, in 1977. We came to St Martin in 1979, where we have been ever since.
We moved ashore in February 1987, because of Dudley's increasing balance problem. He had vertigo, probably because of damage to his left ear from gun blast during World War II. Until the late 1970s the other ear compensated, but as he became older the vertigo became acute. Magnetic resonance scans revealed that his cerebellum had shrunk and was replaced with liquid. An earlier CAT scan had detected an old trauma at the back of his head, which occurred when his ship was torpedoed. (The blast blew him from the bridge down three decks, and he was unconscious for a while.)
He eventually became quadriplegic from about 1995 onwards.
Dudley was never far from the sea all his life. (I think Dudley was about 23 when he had his first boat).
We actually lost our mainmast in a squall within sight of the south coast of St Croix, just as Ramage's brig, the Triton was dismasted in a hurricane in GOVERNOR RAMAGE! Dudley used the islands we visited to set most of the Caribbean Ramages, and Italy for the Mediterranean books.
Victoria takes after her father in all sorts of ways. Not only is she a good journalist, and hopes one of these days to write children's books, but she is now living on her own little sloop - all of 21-feet, like her father's first boat! She has recently returned to the boat world and works for a yacht charter company.