Sailing Great, Edward Allcard, Dies at 102

Edward Allcard, an English naval architect, marine surveyor, yachtsman and author, died at the end of last month at the age of 102. We will probably be best remembered as the first person to sail solo across the Atlantic in both directions, voyages he undertook on his 34-foot yawl, Temptress, in 1949 and 1951.

Between 1957 and 1973, he would undertake an extended solo circumnavigation on Sea Wanderer, a 36-foot ketch, which he had bought as a derelict hull abandoned in the mud in the Hudson River in New York in 1950 for $250.

Allcard met his future wife, Clare, in 1967. Their daughter, Kate, was born in 1969. The family moved aboard and extensively sailed the 69 ft gaff-rigged ex-Baltic trader Johanne Regina, built in 1929.  Edward Allcard continued sailing until the age of 91.

Born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 1914, Allcard was educated at Eton College. He went on to take an apprenticeship in the shipbuilding yards of Harland and Wolff, in Glasgow, and later with D & W Henderson, on the Clyde, and qualified as a naval architect before World War II. He was the longest-standing member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects.

Allcard wrote four books about his various voyages — Single-Handed Passage, 1950; Temptress Returns, 1952; Voyage Alone, 1964 and Solo around Cape Horn – and beyond, 2016. His final book was published last year when Allcard was 102.

Allcard may be credited for being the first person to sail solo both ways across the Atlantic. On the last leg of the return trip, he was not actually alone. A stowaway slipped aboard when he stopped in the Azores.  William McFee, in a review of Temptress Returns, in the New York Times, of January 18, 1953, describes what happened:

Slipping out of Horta one night on a favorable wind, Mr. Allcard was startled upon going below to make coffee in the morning to discover a handsome girl in his cabin. She was Otilia Frayao, a Portuguese girl, whom he had met socially in Horta. Miss Frayao had stowed away complete with suitcase and passport: she asked timidly to be taken to “Europe.” Such a situation might have led to unfortunate complications had not Miss Frayao been a Lady and Mr. Allcard remembered his Eton Tie.

Thanks to Alaric Bond for contributing to this post.

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8 Responses to Sailing Great, Edward Allcard, Dies at 102

  1. Old NFO says:

    A true gentleman, and a great loss to the sailing community.

  2. The man led a good life and got to experience a sailor’s one dream: A female stowaway with suitcase and passport no less.

  3. dennis says:

    thanks for this post! now i have some new (for me) books to find.

  4. Xavier says:

    “Johanne Regina” continues sailing nowadays, as “Ciutat Badalona” (Badalona is a catalan town, north of Barcelona). Mr. Allcard’s ship has been fully restored and she serves as training ship.

  5. Clare Allcard says:

    The Otilia story is much better told by Edward himself in his book Temptress Returns.
    He was just trying to decide whether, with a following sea, he dared nip below to brew up some coffee when: “I started. Then my heart rolled over in momentary fear at the sight of a clutching hand, followed by a frightened white face, half-hidden by straggling black hair. Unbelievingly, I stared; open-mouthed; speechless. It was the girl, Otilia – the one who had come on the trial sail. In an instant, alarm turned to wild anger, and I shouted and spluttered at the apparition…. All this time she remained half out of the hatch, eyes wide, motionless, like some wild creature trapped without hope.” I realised, being Azorean, she hadn’t understood a word I said. My mind switched suddenly to Horta. Santa Maria! The commotion, the Port Authorities, the populace. The British Consul! My sense of humour triumphed over everything. I just gave myself up to shouts and shouts of laughter. A long time later Otilia told me that she thought I had gone mad. Edward told her he would set her down at Sant Miguel or Madeira. Her eyes filled with tears. He wrote, ‘I felt an awful cad,’ Otilia wanted to escape those isolated islands and go to England. So they compromised and sailed to Casablanca. Much, much later a postscript followed this. Edward was contacted via the internet by Otilia’s son-in-law. She was living near Zaragoza in Spain We were living in Andorra, just four hour’s drive away. So we went over and they celebrated Edward’s 95th birthday together, along with her English husband in their beautiful, 16th century converted Spanish farm house.

  6. John Chesney says:

    Harland and Wolff is in Belfast not Glasgow

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  8. Clare Allcard says:

    John Chesney take a look at this link As far as I know H & W started in Belfast but they had a huge yard in Glasgow too. http://www.theyard.info/yards/glasgow/govan.asp