ONE of Guildford Grammar School’s most famous sons, the late Ben Carlin, will soon be the subject of a new biography, researched and written by American author Gordon Bass.
Despite being the first and only person to circumnavigate the world in an amphibious vehicle, Ben remains largely unknown. Through his book, which will be published by Random House in 2017, Gordon hopes to bring Ben’s story to a wider audience.
He was at the school recently researching Ben’s time at the school in the archives and spending time with his daughter, Deirdre Carlin.
Ben’s epic journey around the world in an amphibious jeep he named Half Safe set a world record that is yet to be broken. He crossed four oceans and five continents and became the only person to circumnavigate the globe by land and sea in the same vehicle. The Guildford Grammar School Foundation bought Half Safe in 1984.
Gordon has a strong family connection to Ben, with his grandfather, Robert Bass, living down the street from Ben when he was living in Maryland. Being a ham radio enthusiast, Robert helped Ben to install a radio in his jeep and they stayed in touch over the next 20 years. As a 15-year old boy, Gordon’s father recalls spending long afternoons watching Ben work on his jeep, preparing for his next journey.
Gordon feels that this experience in some way inspired his father to achieve his own dream, going on to become the “father of underwater archaeology”, investigating shipwrecks around the world and founding the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
Two books have already been published documenting Ben’s adventures, Across the Atlantic by Jeep and The Other Half of Half Safe; however, Gordon’s book will be as much about the man as the voyage. “Ben’s journey was indeed epic, but I want to dig deeper and find out what drove him, what kept him going year after year and what happened once he’d completed his voyage. Ben is more than just the jeep and the trip: He was clearly a complex, highly intelligent and driven man.”