Roger Robinson

Roger Robinson (also seen here at age 19) had sailed in 1966 aboard “Mischief”, the first of three Bristol Channel pilot cutters Tilman was to own over the years.  Roger was to later own a pilot cutter of his own named “Olga”, which he sold to Swansea Maritime Museum after seven years of restoration work.

Now a good friend, Roger is also a Devonshire architect of some repute. He has always had a strong passion for ocean sailing, and at the time of writing is deeply embroiled in reseaching a book about the celebrated sailing partnership of Eric and Susan Hiscock.  Roger’s extensive knowledge of sailing and boats have proved immensely helpful to me in the production of this book.

Bob Comlay

Bob Comlay (seen here at age 19) had made two voyages to Greenland in 1970 and 1971 in the pilot cutter “Sea Breeze”, and his memories of those experiences with Tilman are still vivid today helped in no small part by a collection of remarkably good photographs.  Bob pursued a successful career with IBM, though by the time I met him he expressed a certain regret at not having continued with a life of adventure abroad.  Certainly, he was one of the few crew members for whom Tilman had enough respect to invite him back for subsequent voyages.  But the obligations and pressures of going to university at that time in his life took priority, and soon thereafter the constraints of work and family caught up as they do for most of us.  Yet, at that first meeting,  I detected in Bob a quiet resolve to make up for lost time and chalk up some new adventures as time moves on. Since then, Bob and I have become good friends, and correspond fairly frequently.

Visit his site at: or you may e-mail Bob at:

Charles Houston

Charles Houston was just a young Harvard medical student when he first met Bill Tilman. He and three other climbers had been instrumental in organizing a Himalayan expedition to Nanda Devi—at that time the highest mountain in the British Empir—-in 1936. Nanda Devi had not been the students’ first choice; they had originally wanted to climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. But Tilman persuaded them to try Nanda Devi which he and Shipton had attempted two years earlier. The expedition was a great success, and Houston and Tilman were to meet again in 1950 on the first Everest reconnaisance expedition in Nepal. The two men became life-long friends and corresponded periodically over the years until Tilman’s disappearance in the southern oceans in 1977.

Charles Houston was himself to become renown for his climbing exploits, especially his attempts to climb K2 recorded in his book “K2 – The Savage Mountain”. He also was to research and write the first definitive book about the effects of altitude on humans entitled “Going Higher”. Charles Houston, now in his 90s, lives in Vermont, USA.