At the age of 18, Eric Newby signed on as an apprentice on the four-masted sailing ship 'Moshulu' of the Erikson line for the round trip from Europe to Australia and back, outwards by way of the Cape of Good Hope in ballast and homewards round Cape Horn with a cargo of grain. 'Moshulu' was the largest of the dozen or so sailing ships still engaged in the grain trade which strove annually to make the shortest passage home. Newby signed on in the autumn of 1938. This was to be an historic voyage, a dramatic personal adventure. It also marked the debut of an exceptional travel writer.