Old Salt Press is an independent press catering to those who love books about ships and the sea. We are an association of writers working together to produce the very best of nautical and maritime fiction and non-fiction. We invite you to join us as we go down to the sea in books.
In Britannia’s Morass, Florence Dawlish remains in Britain when her husband, Captain Nicholas Dawlish, leaves for service in the Sudan. She faces months of worry about him but she’ll cope by immersing herself in welfare work for Royal Navy seamen’s families at Portsmouth. It’ll be a dull but worthy time . . .
. . . until the suicide of a middle-aged widow whom Florence respects. Left wealthy by her husband, this lady died a pauper, beggared within a few months, how and by whom, is not known. The widow’s legal executor isn’t interested and the police have other concerns. Lacking close family, she’ll be soon forgotten.
But not by Florence. Someone was responsible and there must be retribution. And getting justice will demand impersonation, guile, and courage.
The North Atlantic in spring is a perilous place and, with a valuable convoy to protect, HMS Tenacious has a tough job ahead. But she is fresh from refit, fully manned and seemingly up to the task; the only factor likely to invite defeat is her captain.
With breathtaking naval action, strong personal dynamics, and a mass of historical detail, Lone Escort is a nautical thriller of the first order.
Bond consistently delivers rousing naval adventures, vividly seen through the eyes of the seamen as well as those in command on the quarterdeck. A superb storyteller, he weaves suspenseful scenarios, which move like smoke and oakum from one plight to the next. Quarterdeck Magazine.
Angel, a very old man who once was a Man of the Sea, recalls his boyhood and how he helped five men, a dozen widows and their young children, all led by the charismatic Abner, reach safety at an abandoned Fort, where they hope to escape the breakdown of society in a community guided by hope, faith, loyalty, and peace. Among the children is a girl with sea-bright eyes, and her little sister. More than twenty years later, Angel returns in his own ship to find out how they all fared. Unexpectedly, he triggers murderous violence that threatens to destroy the little community and Angel with it.
Angel’s Share takes place in the world of The Astreya Trilogy. It is the story Able told about his part in the formation of Matris to Astreya and Lindey when they returned from the Village.
River of Stones (The Astreya Trilogy)
Only three stones of power remain, and only the eight descendants of Zubin can wield them. It is 20 years since Astreya learned the lore of the stones while discovering his origins and destiny, chronicled in The Astreya Trilogy. Now, a ruthless and power-hungry man is intent on stealing the stones, murdering the three leaders of the fleet, and torturing the secrets of navigation from their children. Grand Master Astreya entrusts the last shipstone to his daughter Mairi, along with command of a ship, and instructions to keep the younger members of the family far from danger. Mairi must face political turmoil ashore, resolve conflicts with her twin brother Trogen, and lead her young crew through storms, dangerous passages, and battles at sea before they can discover the full potential of the river of stones.
Autumn 1941 and a fierce war rages amid the treacherous waters of the Dover Strait. It is fought by the gun and torpedo boats of Britain’s Coastal Forces: fast, frail vessels that do battle against the best of Germany’s Kriegsmarine. The crews are mainly volunteers; men plucked from civilian life and new to the maelstrom of brutal combat. Each take a different route to meet such a personal challenge and prove every bit as powerful, and vulnerable, as the craft in which they serve.
The gripping naval action in Hellfire Corner is set against a backdrop of war-ravaged Dover, a town reeling from the terrors of nightly air raids and daily artillery bombardment. Authentic detail, tense personal dynamics and tales of individual heroism combine to give a rare and compelling insight into a fascinating aspect of World War Two history.
1864 – Political folly has brought war upon Denmark. Lacking allies, the country is invaded by the forces of military superpowers Prussia and Austria. Cut off from the main Danish Army, and refusing to use the word ‘retreat’, a resolute commander withdraws northwards. Harried by Austrian cavalry, his forces plod through snow, sleet and mud, their determination not to be defeated increasing with each weary step . . .
Across the Atlantic, civil war rages. It is fought not solely on American soil but also on the world’s oceans, as Confederate commerce raiders ravage Union merchant shipping as far away as the East Indies. And now a new raider, a powerful modern ironclad, is nearing completion in a British shipyard. But funds are lacking to pay for her armament and the Union government is pressing Britain to prevent her sailing . . .
When Seymour Hamilton lived in Nova Scotia in the 1970s, he worked as a contract writer and editor. He also wrote and voiced radio essays and theatre reviews. It was during this time that he sailed on Mike Whitehouse’s schooner HAKADA to the south coast of Newfoundland – an experience that was the genesis of The Astreya Trilogy. Astreya’s world stayed in his mind, with chapters being added by fits and starts. When he retired, writing became a full-time activity, and the story grew from a novella to a trilogy. The Laughing Princess followed The Astreya Trilogy into print in 2012. In 2015, he published The Hippies Who Meant It. Watch for the Astreya sequel, River of Stones, which will be coming out soon.
HMS Mistral has emerged from a major refit with one vital element missing – her captain. But Tom King is many miles away aboard a different warship and facing an apparently unbeatable enemy force. Will he survive to claim his rightful place, or is Mistral destined to sail under another’s command?
With graphic naval action, danger from the elements and a major conflict of loyalties, Mistral’s sea trials quickly turn into a testing time for her crew as much as their vessel.
1883: The slave trade flourishes in the Indian Ocean, a profitable trail of death and misery that leads from ravaged African villages to the insatiable markets of Arabia. Britain has been long committed to the trade’s suppression but now a firebrand British preacher is pressing for yet more decisive action. Seen by many as a living saint, and deliberately courting martyrdom, he is forcing the British government’s hand by establishing a mission in the path of the slavers’ raiding columns. His supporters in Britain cannot be ignored and are demanding armed intervention to protect him.
This ostensibly simple task is assigned to Royal Navy Captain Nicholas Dawlish and the crew of the cruiser HMS Leonidas. Previous assignments have proved him adept in coping with political complexities and his crew has been recently blooded by successful action off Korea. But this new mission quickly proves that it’s not going to be as straightforward as it seemed back in Britain . . .Two Arab sultanates on the East African coast control access to the interior. Overstretched by commitments elsewhere, Britain is reluctant to occupy these territories but cannot afford to let any other European power do so either. And now the recently-proclaimed German Empire is showing interest in colonial expansion, and its young navy is making its appearance on the world stage . . .
With news of victory at Trafalgar still fresh, HMS Hare arrives in England carrying details of yet another British naval success although the prospects for her captain, Thomas King, are less encouraging. Hare’s hull requires attention and dockyard facilities are already overstretched while, if she were sent for refit, he would be unlikely to retain her command. Then a face from the past brings hope and King finds himself despatched on an urgent deep-sea mission so secret only sealed orders will reveal the final objective.
Facing enemies that range from French privateers to powerful battle fleets, extremes of weather and the unpredictable behaviour of their Commander-in-Chief, the men of HMS Hare learn as much about themselves as any distant adversary and discover who their friends truly are.
This cross-continental journey had proved very pleasant, particularly considering that he was dead. Or so Timothy ironically mused…
The year is 1905, and the heyday of Thames, in the goldfields of New Zealand. Back in 1867, Captain Jake Dexter, a flamboyant adventurer and pirate, and his mistress, the actress Harriet Gray, invested the fortune they made during the gold rushes of California and Australia in a theatre and hotel called the Golden Goose, which has become an internationally acclaimed tourist venue, famous for its Murder Mystery Weekends. Guests gather, and a fake murder is staged, and it is up to them to find the killer. But this hugely successful venture is now at great risk. Timothy Dexter, an American of dubious ancestry, threatens the inheritance of the Golden Goose Hotel, and the Gray family gathers to hold a council of war, interrupted when a real murder intervenes. And a young tourist, Cissy Miller, entrusted with a Harlequin costume and a very strange mission, may be the only one to hold the key to the mystery.
It’s 1884. A fanatical Islamist revolt is sweeping all before it in the vast wastes of the Sudan and establishing a rule of persecution and terror. Only the city of Khartoum holds out, its defence masterminded by a British national hero, General Charles Gordon. His position is weakening by the day and a relief force, crawling up the Nile from Egypt, may not reach him in time to avert disaster.
But there is one other way of reaching Gordon…
A boyhood memory leaves the ambitious Royal Navy officer Nicholas Dawlish no option but to attempt it. The obstacles are daunting – barren mountains and parched deserts, tribal rivalries and merciless enemies – and this even before reaching the river that is key to the mission. Dawlish knows that every mile will be contested and that the siege at Khartoum is quickly moving towards its bloody climax.
Patricia MacPherson is not the man she claims to be.
The Seven Years War is over but trouble in the American colonies is brewing. Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.
Rhode Island Rendezvous is the third book of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.
In Evening Gray Morning Red, a young American sailor must escape his past and the clutches of the Royal Navy, in the turbulent years just before the American Revolutionary War.
In the spring of 1768, Thom Larkin, a 17-year-old sailor, newly arrived in Boston, is caught by a Royal Navy press gang and dragged off to HMS Romney, where he runs afoul of the cruel and corrupt Lieutenant Dudingston. Years later, after escaping the Romney, Thom again crosses paths with his old foe, now in command HMS Gaspee, cruising in Narragansett Bay. Thom Larkin must face the guns of the Royal Navy with only his wits, an unarmed packet boat, and a sandbar.
Honour Bound is the 10th book in The Fighting Sail Series by Alaric Bond. Satisfied that he has forged HMS Kestrel into a formidable weapon, Commander King is keen to take her to sea once more. But the war is not progressing well for Britain, and his hopes of remaining in Malta are shattered as Kestrel is moved closer to the action.
And so begins a story that covers two seas and one ocean, as well as a cross-country trek through enemy territory, a closer look at the French prison system and a reunion with several familiar faces.
Containing breathtaking sea battles, tense personal drama and an insight into the social etiquette of both Britain and France, Honour Bound is a story brim-filled with action and historical detail.
Money ships were wrecks of treasure-galleons belched up from the bottom of the sea after tremendous storms, yielding doubloons and all kinds of precious treasure … gold bars and bullion, chests of brilliant gems.
Oriental adventurer Captain Rochester spun an entrancing tale to Jerusha, seafaring daughter of Captain Michael Gardiner — a story of a money ship, hidden in the turquoise waters of the South China Sea, which was nothing less than the lost trove of the pirate Hochman. As Jerusha was to find, though, the clues that pointed the way to fabled riches were strange indeed — a haunted islet on an estuary in Borneo, an obelisk with a carving of a rampant dragon, a legend of kings and native priests at war, and of magically triggered tempests that swept warriors upriver. And even if the clues were solved, the route to riches was tortuous, involving treachery, adultery, murder, labyrinthine Malayan politics … and, ultimately, Jerusha’s own arranged marriage.
Christmas 1803, although the group of shipwrecked Royal Navy seamen have anything but festivities in mind as they pitch their wits against a French force sent to catch them. And all the while rescue, in the shape of a British frigate, lies temptingly close, yet just beyond their reach… Encompassing vicious sea battles, spirited land action and treachery from friend as much as foe, The Blackstrap Station tells a stirring tale of courage, honour and loyalty, set against the backdrop of what becomes a broiling Mediterranean summer.
We are extremely pleased to announce that Rick Spilman’s novel “The Shantyman” has been selected as one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books for 2015. From the review:
With eloquent accuracy, Spilman’s novel captures the life of a 19th-century sailor…. Spilman’s colorful, well-researched novel will enthrall both sailing enthusiasts and landlubbers. A fabulously gripping sailor’s yarn.
Another wonderful release in time for the holidays. Antione Vanner’s Britannia’s Spartan is the fourth volume of the Dawlish Chronicles.
It is 1882 and Captain Nicholas Dawlish has just taken command of the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas. Her voyage to the Far East is to be a peaceful venture, a test of this innovative vessel’s engines and boilers. It should bear no relation to the nightmare of failure in China that Dawlish remembers as his baptism of fire as a boy.
As HMS Leonidas arrives in Hong Kong Dawlish has no forewarning of the nightmare of riot, treachery, massacre and battle that he and his crew will encounter.
Alaric Bond’s new novel HMS Prometheus is the eighth book in his Fighting Sail Series. Autumn 1803, and Britain remains under the threat of invasion. HMS Prometheus is needed to reinforce Nelson’s squadron blockading the French off Toulon, but a major action has left her severely damaged and the British Fleet outnumbered. Prometheus must be brought back to fighting order without delay, and the work proves more than a simple refit.
Barbary pirates, shore batteries and the powerful French Navy are conventional foes, although the men of Prometheus encounter equally dangerous enemies within their own ranks. A story that combines vivid action with sensitive character portrayal.
Rick Spilman’s latest novel, The Shantyman, is being featured as one of Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month for August.
The Kirkus starred review from last June, called The Shantyman …a fabulously gripping sailor’s yarn. The review also says: With eloquent accuracy, Spilman’s novel captures the life of a 19th-century sailor…. A profound understanding of nautical terminology and procedure is also evident, yet the author is careful not to confuse readers who don’t know a “crojack” from a “spanker.” … Spilman’s colorful, well-researched novel will enthrall both sailing enthusiasts and landlubbers.
Summer, 1803: the uneasy peace with France is over, and Britain has once more been plunged into the turmoil of war. After a spell on the beach, Sir Richard Banks is appointed to HMS Prometheus, a seventy-four gun line-of-battleship which an eager Admiralty loses no time in ordering to sea. The ship is fresh from a major re-fit, but Banks has spent the last year with his wife and young family: will he prove himself worthy of such a powerful vessel, and can he rely on his officers to support him?
With excitement both aboard ship and ashore, gripping sea battles, a daring rescue and intense personal intrigue, The Scent of Corruption is a non-stop nautical thriller in the best traditions of the genre.
I see things other people don’t see I hear things other people don’t hear
Fifteen-year-old James McCafferty is an unwilling sailor aboard a traditional Chinese junk, operated as adventure-therapy for troubled teens. Once at sea, the ship is gradually taken over by the spirits of courtiers who fled the Imperial court during the Ming Dynasty, more than 600 years ago. One particular ghost wants what James has and is intent on trading places with him. But the teens themselves are their own worst enemies in the struggle for life in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A psychological story set at sea, with historical and paranormal elements.
It was not just the men who lived on the brink of peril when under sail at sea. Lucretia Jansz, who was enslaved as a concubine in 1629, was just one woman who endured a castaway experience. Award-winning historian Joan Druett (Island of the Lost, The Elephant Voyage), relates the stories of women who survived remarkable challenges, from heroines like Mary Ann Jewell, the “governess” of Auckland Island in the icy sub-Antarctic, to Millie Jenkins, whose ship was sunk by a whale.
It was 1799, and French privateers lurked in the Atlantic and the Bay of Bengal. Yet Eleanor Reid, newly married and just twentyone years old, made up her mind to sail with her husband, Captain Hugh Reid, to the penal colony of New South Wales, the Spice Islands and India. Danger threatened not just from the barely charted seas they would be sailing, yet, confident in her love and her husband’s seamanship, Eleanor insisted on going along. Joan Druett, writer of many books about the sea, including the bestseller Island of the Lost and the groundbreaking story of women under sail, Hen Frigates, embellishes Eleanor’s journal with a commentary that illuminates the strange story of a remarkable young woman. ISBN 978-0-9941152-1-8
He can save the ship and the crew, but can he save himself?
In 1870, on the clipper ship Alahambra in Sydney, the new crew comes aboard more or less sober, except for the last man, who is hoisted aboard in a cargo sling, paralytic drunk. The drunken sailor, Jack Barlow, will prove to be an able shantyman. On a ship with a dying captain and a murderous mate, Barlow will literally keep the crew pulling together. As he struggles with a tragic past, a troubled present and an uncertain future, Barlow will guide the Alahambra through Southern Ocean ice and the horror of an Atlantic hurricane. His one goal is bringing the ship and crew safely back to New York, where he hopes to start anew. Based on a true story, The Shantyman is a gripping tale of survival against all odds at sea and ashore, and the challenge of facing a past that can never be wholly left behind. ISBN978-0-9941152-2-5