Eight Bells: Peter Bowker

Published on February 25th, 2023

Esteemed yachtsman Peter Bowker died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, FL in the morning of February 24, 2023. Born in England in 1927, Peter moved to Florida in the late 1950s and made it a base for his extensive travels. He married Josephine in 1988.

Well known world-wide as a navigator on the yacht racing circuit, Peter is remembered for his calmness under pressure. He was very well respected by all who sailed with him – an easy going, nice bloke with a funny laugh.

If one was to walk the docks or stand at a yacht club bar or nearby pub at any of the global IOR regattas between the late 1960s to the early 1990s, Peter Bowker was likely there too.

Peter could be found in places as far afield as Newport, Fort Lauderdale, Nassau, Bermuda, Cowes, Hawaii, Malta, Sardinia, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, Hobart, Auckland, and Rio De Janeiro.

He was equally at home discussing tactics with wealthy boat owners as he was mentoring the constant throng of young Aussies, Kiwis, fellow Englishmen, South Africans and Americans – the young guns who ground the winches, set and trimmed the sails, while Pete put the boat spot on the next mark, regardless of clear or cloudy weather when sun sights were unavailable.

He is the first navigator to win the big three of the early 600+ miler regattas: American Eagle – Sydney/ Hobart 1972; Scaramouche – Bermuda Race 1974; and the brutal Fastnet Race 1979 – Tenacious. He even has the plaque to prove it.

Peter was on demand on the top boats over the years, such as Ticonderoga, Brigadoon, Escapade, Jubilation, Guinevere, Windward Passage, American Eagle, Scaramouche, Tenacious, Mistress Quickly, Bumblebee 4, Nirvana, Formidable and others.

Easy going, a friend to all, ready with a joke at a “Quiet Little Drink” or the occasional tap dance with beer cans crushed under his Topsiders, Peter was also a great sea cook. No problem feeding the boys in 35 knots with the galley at an angle of 45 degrees.

His mother asked him once what he would do when he grew up? His answer “That`s a difficult question mum.” Truth is, he lived a “Peter Pan” life where he never had to really grow up in the cumbersome life ashore routine.

He will be remembered as an exemplary shipmate, outstanding seaman and a fun and witty friend who always surprised you with particularly pertinent quips.

Peter is survived by his wife Josephine and his two nephews, David and Stephen, in England. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

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