'No cure, no pay'- those are the terms under which a salvor operates, and in doing so he takes on an onerous responsibility. If he is defeated by the elements he is not paid. He receives nothing, however much money, effort, sweat and tears he has put in. Salvage is not a business for the faint-hearted.
Ian Tew joined Selco Salvage of Singapore in 1974, and spent over a decade on the front line. Already an experienced master mariner, he learnt the salvage trade in the busy waters of the Far East before rising to command some of the world's largest supertugs, eventually becoming a roving salvage master. In his odyssey he roamed the world, from the coast of Cornwall to the Southern Ocean, from the Gulf of Suez to the dangerous reefs of the South China Sea.
This is a vivid account of those ten tough years - successes, failures, tows and rescues - a barge adrift in a hurricane in the English Channel - a freighter aground on a reef hundreds of miles from land with a tropical storm approaching - a trawler battered by the surf on a coral reef, its bottom ripped out - a tanker hit by a missile in the Gulf during the 'Tanker War' of the 1980s.
The tugs themselves play a big part in the story, as do the crews and captains the author worked with. This gripping account of drama at sea is a tribute to the seamanship, courage and resourcefulness of the salvor, and an insight into the technical, commercial and human issues behind the headlines.
Ian Tew was born into a seafaring family in 1943. He learnt to sail by the age of seven, and went on to become chief officer with the Indo-China Steam Navugation Companty and Bank Line before joining Selco Salvage in 1974. After many years in salvage he went ashore in 1991 to run a small business, and then in 1997-2001 hew sailed around the world in the yacht IndependentFreedom. Ian's account of his round-the-world voyage was published as Sailing in Grandfather's Wake.