This painting is a depiction of a voyage by Bill Tilman to East Greenland in 1965 and described in detail in chapter 20 of Tilman’s book Mostly Mischief. The voyage was to the East Coast of Greenland. This was the second trip to Skjoldungen(Lymington – Heimaey-Reykjavik – Angmagssalik – Skjoldungenfjord – Lymington) with Martin Wareham, Robert Bradley, Brian Hill, Brian Thomas and Brian Holloway. On 23rd August after attempting a 5000ft peak they moved south to Sehesteds Fjord where Tilman and Holloway climbed another peak.
Bill Tilman was twice awarded the Military Cross during the first world war and then became a renowned mountaineer in partnership with Eric Shipton when they climbed in the remote parts of the Himalayas as well as involvement in the British expeditions to Everest prior to the second world war.
When he was in his fifties Tilman turned to deep sea sailing in an old gaff rigged Bristol pilot cutter called Mischief and sailed this and other similar vintage yachts, with climbing partners as crew, to the remote and frozen areas of the world including Antartica, Patagonia, and Greenland
The painting depicts Mischief motoring in the Sehesteds Fjord in 1965.
In “Mostly Mischief” Tilman describes entering Sehesteds Fjord as ” By then, August 23rd, the coast was free of ice except for bergs but in the entrance and all the way up Sehesteds Fjord big floes and bergs were extremely numerous. They came from a glacier at the head of Sehesteds Fjord, which descends direct from the ice-cap… The quantity of ice about made anchoring a problem and at 4pm I took advantage of the first little ice-free bay we had seen and anchored on the south side. In mid fjord floes and bergs were clustering all around… When we got back to the boat in the evening we learnt that we had had to be moved once on account of ice. Several bergs were still menacingly close… The weather was clear”.
Although the colour of Mischief was originally white it was later changed to yellow, and this colour remained a trade mark of his subsequent boats.
Specifications of Mischief at the time of this trip are as follows:–
Built in Cardiff in 1906 Originally a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter.
Thames Tonnage about 29t Registered tonnage 13.78
Displacement about 55 tons.
9 owners up to 1955.
New Perkins 4/99 diesel engine.
Did not use 20ft top mast on trip due to extra strain , windage, and massive five supporting wire stays, and limited advantage of topsail.