This page is dedicated to my grandfather, Dr. Harry L. Heckel, Jr., the oldest man to perform a solo circumnavigation of the globe in a sailboat. We knew him as Captain Heckel, although he enjoyed the few times he was called grandfather. With the assistance of his daughter, Florence Russell (my aunt and fairy godmother), he was able to have the story of his journeys published in his mid-nineties. The book is available from Amazon here.
After years as a chemist, he retired in his fifties to go sailing with my grandmother. When she passed away, he decided to fulfill his ambition of sailing around the world. Starting at St. Lucia, he circled the globe. A few years later, he went back and started around in the other direction.
He met people all over the globe and spent his golden years learning about cultures and studying languages. He was an explorer and a seeker of knowledge. In his final years, he would receive calls from people around the world, old friends that he had met during his travels. He never stopped his quest for knowledge and could stump his spelling bee champion great-granddaughter.
While he may be gone, his ship, Idle Queen, is in good hands. If you’d like to see some pictures or get some updates on this sailboat that has gone around the world twice, please click here.
I know many people come to this site looking for information on him, and I hope to do periodic updates on this page. If you have any questions which I can pass on to Florence Russell, please feel free to use the contact form. Thanks!
Reading your grandfather’s book right now. Only on the chapter “I build a boat” so far.
I must say that I love the writing and your grandfather’s personality.
I found the book in a give away/take-to-keep “library” at the Morro Bay Yacht Club in California.
My husband and I bought our latest boat in San Diego this summer and stopped there to get out of some stinky weather for a couple days.
I brought other books from the MBYC onto our boat to peruse while we were there, but your grandfather’s was the only one we sailed away with.
What a charming person. What a lovely legacy. Bless you and any genes you inherited from him.
All the best,
Jennifer and Eric Sorensen
I’ll add this to my TBR, thanks!!