‘My living was made on the sea, my greatest pleasures have been sailing on the sea, my inspiration has come from the sea, the very reason to live has been the sea...’
By the age of seven, Ian Tew had learnt to sail and by his eighth birthday he became the owner of “Titwillow”, a yellow sailing dinghy.
It marked the beginning of what was to be a life at sea.
After attending the Pangbourne Nautical College, which was an ominous experience, Ian left his seafaring family to join British India Steam Navigation as a cadet.
He was assigned to a ship on the East African run and then, in 1962, he flew to Bombay on his first flight as an officer in training to join the infamous deck passenger ship the ‘Dara’.
The tragedy that followed was the biggest peacetime disaster to strike a British ship since the Titanic.
Following survival leave, Captain Tew was sent to Calcutta, where he spent two months in hospital drifting in and out of a coma from fever.
An East African voyage was next and it would be two years before a return to England was on the horizon.
As a young officer in the British Merchant Navy, Ian progressed in his career and went on to become a prominent Salvage Master - joining Selco Salvage of Singapore in 1974.
He navigated the busy waters of the Middle and Far East, salved vessels from the shores of the UK to the Japanese Coast, was arrested in Massawa Ethiopia during the war with Eritrea, culminating with the Iran Iraq War.
Ian Tew’s story, recounted while stranded in Tahiti, provides a fascinating insight into a life of voyage and discovery, of expert seamanship, salvage and courage.
Life may often be dangerous at sea, but it is seldom dull.