Tristan Jones, sailing author

Tristan JonesTristan Jones

Author of sixteen books describing his travels around the globe. Arguably one of the best loved icons of 20th century nautical literature, the enigmatic Mr Jones. Tristan thrilled his readers with sixteen books of adventures on seas and rivers, and hundreds of magazine articles. Although he passed away from a stroke in Thailand in 1995, his books remain in print in Britain and in America.


Tristan Jones was an enigma. No one, not even his closest friends, knew much about him and the first two thirds of his life.

Tristan JonesHe cleverly buried his true history and invented a new one to make himself appear more interesting than he thought himself to be. A natural and gifted story-teller, he had no trouble in convincing most people of his heroic deeds. He said he was born of Welsh seafaring parents aboard his father's tramp steamer off the islands of Tristan da Cunha in May 1924 – hence his name - Tristan. Biographical details tell of him growing up in the (non-existent) tiny hamlet of Llangareth, near Barmouth. In fact he was born Arthur Jones, in a Liverpool hospital, on May 8th, 1929. His mother, who may or may not have been Welsh, was unmarried.

He wrote of serving in the Royal Navy during WWII, and of being torpedoed three times before his 18th birthday. Naval records, however, show he signed on in November 1946, at age 17 ½, and served until December 1960. He claimed a long list of international sailing records, few of which he had earned. Among them, over 400,000 miles at sea in small boats – 180,000 of which, he said, he sailed solo. He actually sailed about 75,000 miles, and almost none alone.

Tristan's major strength was his superb narrative style. He could make words sing. He could hold readers and lecture audiences spell-bound with his tales, fiction and fact. He was a master – a fact recognised by the Welsh Arts Council, who awarded him a literary prize in 1979. In 1991 he also won the John Morgan Prize for Literature.

© Copyright Anthony Dalton 2003

Connection: Self proclaimed Welshman.
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comment by:researcher
Tristan did not sail on the lowest body of navigable water in the world (the Dead Sea). He only claimed to have done so. Also there is no concrete evidence that his parents were Welsh.

comment by:tristan880
I have all his books about three times each and really admire the guy. Very sad reading Dalton's book on the real Tristan (Authur) Jones. Still he taught me so much and has given me a lifetime of inspiration to take up blue water sailing. I really do love the guy although he was a bit of a drinker. Never mind!

comment by:tjfanabc123
I am his greatest fan. I have read all his books and not a day goes by that I don't think about him. He is such an inspiration in my life. I intent to go blue water sailing in 3-5 years. Thank you tristan.

comment by:Huttdoug
I have been told by my father, who past last year, that I am somehow a descendent of the rolls half of Rolls - Royce. Curiosity has brought me too your site. Can you direct me to any Internet resources that may help me verify my fathers assertions? I would be grateful to know if he had the correct facts about C. S Rolls. Thanks for your time. Doug Hutt Try the Ancestry website as advertised here and there throughout our website, they are specialists in this sort of thing - Ed.

comment by:louisa
I am Tristian Jones?s daughter. He had two daughters and one son to Shiela Jones. They were married in Essex, England Tristan Arthur left us when I was four and we never saw him again. I have tried to trace him for many years under the name of Arthur and have only in January 2007 discovered that in fact he changed his name in 1962 to Tristen, I would love to find out more about him.

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link by: researcher
Tristan Jones biography
'WAYWARD SAILOR, in search of the real Tristan Jones', is author Anthony Dalton's revealing biography of the late nautical author.

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