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Nautical novels for the adventurer

About Captain William Gilbert

William Gilbert first experienced professional seafaring as a teenager on a tramp tanker out of sweltering Houston for a thrilling voyage through Panama to the Far East and then Saudi Arabia and the Mediterranean and back to the United States, fuelling at Gibraltar, and then crossing the Atlantic in a massive storm and threading through the oil rigs of the Mexican Gulf to the same berth at which he’d joined six months’ earlier; a trip described in his top seller, Supertanker Circumnavigation.

After qualifying as a third officer, he spent several years on cape-size bulk carriers, during the crisis period when one of this type of vessel was sinking every few weeks, due to a combination of wear and tear, poor design and poor loading practices.

Having survived this, he spent ten years in the home trade around Europe, obtaining his Master Mariner’s licence, before the decline of the British merchant navy finally overtook him.

This was followed by fifteen years’ service on the superyachts of the mega rich.

Nominee for the Mountbatten Award 2020


Garnet and Petunia:
The Junior Minister

Bangkok. A disgraced British politician has apparently died in the Crimson Ass, an S and M bar in Patpong. British detective Garnet and his transsexual, Thai assistant, Petunia, are asked by the British authorities to investigate. While dealing with their case, they are distracted by a woman-killer who has appeared on the scene and seems to have known Garnet.

Garnet and Petunia:
The Matinée Idol

Filippo, the faded Italian film star, a super-successful, cynical, Hollywood producer and a mysterious woman are up to something; a British civil servant wants someone to find her missing, much younger wife; a Jewish businessman’s daughter has been found with her throat slashed; a high-profile, Iranian strip club owner’s American car has been found abandoned and splattered with blood; and a South London gangster has been found in a Bangkok red light district with some of his genitals missing, wearing surprisingly high-end lingerie, and Garnet is under pressure from his nemesis in the Eastend underworld, doing the South Londoners a favour, to get it solved or his partner, Petunia, will not be so beautiful for much longer. Garnet and Petunia wade through the expatriate flotsam which fills the neon-lit streets of Bangkok’s tourist districts, doing their best to help the Thai police solve the irritating crises which the foreign population causes, identifying victims and finding guilty parties.

Garnet and Petunia The Juvenile Delinquent

Garnet and Petunia:
The Juvenile Delinquent

Thailand. Someone is stalking the streets of Bangkok, slashing the faces of the women involved with Shane, an Australian gangster with facial tattoos. A Beautiful seventeen-year-old Thai wife lives in a mansion and cuckolds her eighty-year-old husband. A Taiwanese millionaire’s wife is found lying on the pavement beneath their seventeenth-floor apartment, wearing only a scarlet G-string. Garnet and Petunia trace events and try to avoid becoming victims themselves.

Garnet and Petunia The

Garnet and Petunia:
The Russians

A British seaman has gone missing in Bangkok. A ship has gone missing in China and bodies have been found floating. The sinister third secretary at the British Embassy seems keen for Garnet and Petunia to assist his opposite number at the Russian Embassy in the hunt for the Russian’s brother, who was involved in some Russian naval disaster. The trail leads Garnet from the Yellow Sea to balmy Southern Thailand and through borderline-criminal shipyards.


Supertanker Seamen and Their Women

Obsession, paranoia and jealousy thrive when men are driven apart from their women by their occupation, and fleeting moments with other women in foreign ports fail to substitute for trips home, and bring only depression, grief and danger.

Port of Call Cartagena Supertanker

Port of Call Cartagena

In a tropical South American port, the crew of a dilapidated oil tanker find themselves facing difficult decisions as temptation threatens to override their loyalties and commitments at home. The humidity and the lure of the exotic inhabitants wear down their resistance.

William Gilbert Port of Call San Fransisco Supertanker

Supertanker Port of Call San Francisco

San Francisco, 1967, hippies and hard-bitten sailors mingle in the brothels and strip clubs of the Tenderloin, the cafes of Haight-Ashbury and the otherworld of Chinatown, while vicious killers threaten to cut the thin bonds which bind their society.

Supertankers Captain and Other Stories William Gilbert

Captain and Other Stories

A retired supertanker captain experiences difficulties with his teenage Mexican girlfriend, an Englishman befriends a mysterious and sinister Irishman in Havana, a criminal returns to the streets in bohemian Brighton. Stories of society's outsiders fill these pages.

Port of Call Asia Supertanker

Port of Call Asia

Supertanker Port of Call Asia: the violent, sexually-charged, world of a seamen's town in Southeast Asia.

Supertanker Memoirs

William Gilbert first went to sea as a teenage apprentice officer on oil tankers. This is the story of his fifteen years on tankers and other cargo ships trading worldwide. It covers his many varied experiences during the twilight of the British merchant navy.

Supertanker Circumnavigation


In the nineteen-eighties, William Gilbert joined his first tramp tanker as a trainee officer in Houston. The trip turned out to be a five month circumnavigation via the Panama and Suez canals. This is the story of that journey and of the tight knit society on board as it passed through far flung and exotic locales.

The Captain's Daughter

Mexico, a small beach resort, deserted in the off-season; a British sea captain in his fifties deals with an unexpected and very stressful addition his life, a half-Mexican daughter whose travails demand his constant attention and threaten his idyllic retirement.

Cuba Port of Call

Cuba Port of Call

In the mid-nineties, William Gilbert was mate on a little freighter trading between Santo Domingo , Vera Cruz and Havana. Having signed off, he decided to spend some months living in Cuba just when it was beginning to emerge from its Soviet-supported era of oppression and open up a little to the world. Drifting around the western half of the country, mingling with everyone from cabaret artistes to embryonic property developers, farmers to black market traders, he found the warmth and generosity of the Cuban people to be limitless and the country itself to be a beautiful time-warp.

Marie of Gizo and Other Stories of the Solomons

Missionaries, colonial officials, traders, Australians on the run and exotic island women mingle in the jungles and on the beaches of the last unspoiled Pacific paradise while facing the threat of the political and economic change which the outside world wants to force on them.


In a brothel in an Australian mining town in the nineteen-seventies, four women face crises while, outside the premises, the town’s major employer deals with the stresses of an election and tries to cope with his wayward daughter’s fascination with the youngest of them.

William Gilbert Pink Taxi

Pink Taxi

Thailand’s expatriate community, thrill seekers, the despairing and the damned, drift through the neon-lit sois looking for stimulation or salvation.

William Gilbert London Transport

London Transport

London in the nineteen-eighties: Gordon Gecko wanabes; small time criminals, homesick tax exiles; teenage mothers; bargemen; dilapidated Victorian architecture; Stalinist council estates; and a pensive tube train driver.

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