About the author
These are the edited and translated writings of 19th-century Norwegian Captain Terje Andersen, a true man of the sea and keen observer of the world he traveled by wooden sailing ship.
Andersen grew up in the small seaside village of Narestø, which at that time had the country's largest fleet of sailing ships. He knew from a young age he wanted to be a sailor – enchanted by the idea of "white sails and a wide horizon," from a family of born seafarers. After becoming dreadfully sea-sick on his maiden voyage as a teenager on the barque Albatros in 1861, Andersen quickly learned the maritime trade and became a captain by age 23.
For decades he sailed around the world under the Norwegian flag, carrying commodities like iron ore, coal, wool, wheat, corn, minerals, chemicals, petroleum and more between ports in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and North America. In the course of his journeys, Andersen documented his insights on wide-ranging topics that shaped his daily life, from the nuances of ships, ocean currents, coastlines and storms to the personalities and cultures of the crewmen, merchants, harbormasters and locals he encountered.
Terje Andersen kept a journal during his sailing career in six notebooks that he purchased in a bookstore in Rangoon. These 490 handwritten pages would form the basis for his memoir, which he started in 1900 upon his retirement from sailing, writing from his home in Narestø with a view of the sea.
Eventually this manuscript was edited and published in Norway in 1999, titled En gammel Sjømands Erindringer, by community organizations in Andersen's hometown: the Narestø Vel and the Flosta Historical Society. The English translation was launched in 2016 by Andersen's descendants.
In 1902, Terje Andersen had written a Foreword to his memoir, in which he said he hoped: "that colleagues will appreciate some of the narrator's experiences, and that the depictions incidentally could give outsiders a fleeting glimpse of the life of a seafarer and his struggle for existence."