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Peter Pye

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Title: Peter Pye  
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Subject: Polperro Gaffer, Cruising (maritime), Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Herman Melville
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Peter Pye

Peter Pye, (1902 – 3 September 1966), Dr Edward Arthur (Peter) Pye. MRCS, LRCP, was a British yachtsman, author and doctor.

Peter Pye was educated at Patrick Pye who was raised by his mother in Dublin. Edward Arthur Pye was the son of Harry Pye and Annette O'Leary, the former being a wine merchant and amateur sailor and son of Kellow Pye, and the latter being a daughter of Arthur O'Leary (composer), Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music, originally from Tralee in County Kerry.[1]

After qualifying as a MD, Pye worked as a G.P. in Ealing, West London. In the early 1930s, Pye and his wife Anne (married in 1936) bought a 30 ft Polperro Gaffer fishing vessel built by Ferris of Looe called Lily for £25. They converted the boat, which had been built in 1896, to a sea-going cutter and renamed her Moonraker of Fowey. Together they cruised the boat extensively on annual holidays, sailing out of Fambridge, Essex.[2]

In 1946, at the age of 44, Pye retired from medicine to concentrate on sailing full time. The decision was the combined result of being unhappy with the prospect of the nationalisation of the British health system and the serendipitous encounter with a book that was to change his life.[2] The book, £200 Millionaire, by British sailor Weston Martyr, was an account of the low cost life an itinerant yachtsman.

Peter and Anne sailed around the world for the next twenty years, demonstrating that ‘log, line and lookout’ were more important to a life at sea as any number of modern gadgets.[2] He financed his journeys through lecturing and writing books, which were published by Rupert Hart-Davis. Pye, alongside US photographer, journalist and yachtsman Carleton Mitchell, has been said to symbolise a key change in the history of yachting in the West Indies. Both were amateur sailors who cruised the Caribbean after World War II in small boats, and many followed in the wake of their voyages.[3]

Red Mains’l covers his voyage to Portugal, Madeira, the West Indies, Florida, the Azores and back. While The Sea is for Sailing takes Moonraker from Fowey to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific to the Marquesas and Hawaii, to British Columbia and back home.

He died, aged 64, from the effects of contaminated nitrous oxide during a hospital operation at Devonport Hospital, Plymouth.[4]


  1. ^ Fitzsimons, Bob, 'Arthur O'Leary and Arthur Sullivan', Doghouse, Tralee, 2008
  2. ^ a b c Tuesday, 6 September 1966 The Times
  3. ^ Dey, Richard, Writing on the Sea: An Historical Overview of Yachting in the Lesser Antilles in the 20th Century retrieved 9 December 2009
  4. ^ Monday, 19 September 1966 The Times

List of works

  • Red Mains’l, 1952,
  • The Sea is for Sailing, 1957
  • A Sail in a Forest, 1961
  • The Sea is King
  • Backdoor to Brazil
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