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Farewell to a friend PDF Print E-mail

eBookTrove says farewell to a great sailor, a wonderful fellow, a keen reader, bon vivant, and the best of friends. Jack Huke, the gentle giant, keen sailor, enthusiastic human, excellent precision engineer, left our planet this month.

A real jolly Jack tar ... the late lamented Jack Huke, who shared a real love of the sea and of seafaring tales. Jack's own seafaring experiences could have filled many a book of the sea.

His taste for books covered most genres. However, a stroke in 1991 ended that pleasure. Television had to answer his intense interest in railways, aircraft and ships. For sailing, he was a keen sailor of monohulls, but also sailed catamarans.

I wish I'd known him back in the days when I sailed my tri in the OSTAR, the Observer singlehanded race over the pond to Rhode Island. Jack would have loved it.

However, he was there when I got ready to sail round the world singlehanded, to become a solo Cape Horner. The only yacht available was a somewhat unique but battered schooner. Jack had great ideas for improvement. He told me, 'I'm going to give you an hour of the factory's time every day.' His factory was Stockwell Tools, not far from Brixton, in South London.

Salty Goose

Jack was keen on catamaran sailing, and crewed a cat, a Prout called Salty Goose, with Ted Wildey.

Jack sailed the oceans, I believe as a marine engineer. When I met him, he possessed a smart Contessa 26, Sundowner. Later, he moved up to a Contessa 32, Checkmate.

We all know that time is limited for each of us, yet somehow we don't expect to lose good friends. Now Jack's gone. I regret that during his long illness I didn't visit him much more often.

I called on him at the funeral director's and recounted to his silent form seafaring experiences, and some of our times friom far back. It was very odd to see the great man remaining silent and joining the conversation with hearty laughs and humorous comments and wise words about seafaring.

On long periods alone at sea - particularly on the Cape Horn journey and on so many others, too - it often seemed that he was present, encouraging me with his keen humour, spurring me on when sails had to be changed in storms, and for the very long hours when the boat had to be steered downwind until a storm lowered from 100mph or so to a more negotiable level.

Notorious Westerlies

I should mention another wonderful fellow who helped enormously with Pentax, Pat Adamson, of Portchester. He was a man with an enviable knowledge of electronics. After Spirit of Pentax's constant battering in the Southern Ocean, after the circumnavigation, a considerable rewiring job was necessary.

Pat did it in rapid time and serviced the Brookes and Gatehouse navigation aids as well. Then Pentax was ready to sail to Rhode Island for the start of the BOC Around Alone Race.

The Southern Ocean, at the foot of the Indian Ocean, put paid to that event. That mighty sea turned the yacht over during a long surfing run. When she turned back the right way up, much of the equipment was damaged. However, the electrics held up excellently.

As I had to beat to Cape Town against the notorious Westerlies, I often thanked Pat for making absolutely sure the vital wind measuring instruments were completely damp-proof. He was such a good bloke, such a great fellow, an appreciated friend, like Jack. Pat left us a few months ago.

You'll be sadly missed, Jack, and Pat.

Weather in London