My name is Anthony Edwards, known to my friends as Tony. I was born in Gravesend on the river Thames and it was there that I spent my early life. My father was a merchant seaman and had had the misfortune to be torpedoed twice in WWII. At that time the shortage of Navy personnel meant that merchant seamen were seconded into the Royal Navy to replace sailors that had been lost in the conflict. He’d had a hard life and life at home wasn’t easy either. Because of the atmosphere at home, I was always happier when I wasn’t there and spent a lot of time with intellectually and socially challenged youths that I met at school. Eventually, I broke away from the confines of that life into a new and more fulfilling direction.
Joining the steam tug ‘Cervia’
The escape began with my joining the steam tug ‘Cervia’ as cook when I was fifteen. That was the age that we left school in those days, except for the grammar school kids, who left at sixteen. I chose not to go to grammar school even though I’d passed my 11 plus exams. I wanted to stay with my friends, and at home was given no encouragement to do otherwise.
My work on the tugs lasted for 7 years. However, eventually, I realised that although I enjoyed the life, and felt fortunate to have been part of the steam age, I didn’t want to do it forever. A chance viewing of a film clip on ocean racing filled me with excitement and I knew that that was what I wanted to do.
A change of direction
My experiences at sea continued – and there’s nothing like being afloat to generate experiences! Extremes of fear and exhaustion contrasted with extremes of well being and humour. I got a job as crew on an Ocean Racer without ever having sailed. I was careful to watch what everyone else did and did likewise!
The next step to achieve my goal was to qualify as a yacht skipper and then I was fortunate enough from then on to be paid for doing what I most wanted to do – and live the dream!