Scratch Hitchen Book Talk and Signing - Weds 15 Aug
Aged fourteen, Billy Hitchen dodged out of returning to school after the Easter holidays of 1963 and ran away to sea on SY Norian, out of Salcombe Harbour.
Before the age of nineteen, he had sailed round the world five times. From the mountainous seas off Cape Horn, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, from the most southerly tip of New Zealand to the North Atlantic and Canada, from oil drilling and exploration in southern Argentina to the construction of oil pipelines in the swamps and jungles of West Africa, he lived a life of unbelievable challenge and freedom.
The reader is drawn to his charismatic personality and inspired by the sheer guts of the man. Without referring to any written document or diary, the story he tells is written from the heart and carried in his soul.
This must rank as one of the most authentic records of recent maritime history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BILLY ‘SCRATCH’ HITCHEN has lived a life that could never be repeated.
One of the country’s first NHS babies to be born in the early hours of July 5 1948, he took full advantage of the freedom offered to a young boy growing up in postwar Britain.
Aged just fourteen years, he dodged out of school and ran away to sea, virtually illiterate and with minimal mathematical skills. By the age of nineteen years he had sailed around the world five times and mastered the 3Rs on the way. When he finally came home to Salcombe, in south Devon in 1973, he had used up many of his nine lives, but undaunted, he started a new career in the fishing industry, one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. After a rapid rise to skipper, he spent the next three decades fishing every sea area from Dover to Rockall.
Surviving storms and groundings, collisions and near fatal accidents, he finally ‘swallowed the anchor’ and came ashore forty years after running away to sea. He then started two businesses which he has run successfully for the last twelve years, one a live shellfish export business to the Far East and a boatyard sailing business. Both are still running today.
Scratch has now written his autobiography, an inspiring tale of one man’s guts and determination to overcome low educational ability.
Last updated 3:27pm on 12 July 2018