About Chris Marrow


The Hoe & The Gun Author

Chris Marrow has led an extraordinary life. Like the hero of the book, he was brought up looking out at the Atlantic and the rugged North Cornish coast. He went on to train as a deck officer on refrigerated cargo ships and travelled the world, but became office bound after he married. Hankering after ships and the sea, he moved to the Orkney Islands and founded new concepts of inter-island ferries in Orkney and re-established the long-dead ferry route between Orkney and Shetland.

Am extraordinary life…….


The harbour master on the island of Westray writes:

“By the 1970s, transport in the North Isles of Orkney had become very difficult because there seemed to be no understanding of the needs of island communities. Chris changed this, creating a new concept of ferry service, which had an immediate impact on the economies of the outer islands. He also reopened the long dead route between Orkney and Shetland, thereby reuniting the Northern cousins, and it is beyond doubt that he revolutionised ferry services in the Northern Isles. The people of this island will always be extremely grateful to him.”

When his company was taken over, he ended up sailing a 95 foot landing craft with some of his family to Mozambique where he operated two such craft to feed people displaced by long years of civil war.  The then CEO of ActionAid writes:

“During the late 1980s and early 1990s Chris Marrow was the inspiration and driving force behind a massive humanitarian effort to supply food to hundreds of thousands of people sheltering on off-shore islands in Mozambique. These people were fleeing for their lives from their homes and villages driven out by a horrible civil war.  Chris used his vision and maritime and management skill to reposition two surplus United Kingdom navy landing craft to move food from warehouses out to the islands where it was needed.  Chris was responsible for the total operation and in the process trained and mentored local staff in vital maritime skills.  Chris went on to lead the building of additional landing craft within Mozambique, leaving behind skills and experience in small craft construction.  

Chris is a visionary and tireless in making his visions come to life.  I have never worked with a finer individual.”

When the war was over, he founded a charity to work with waterborne transport for aid, development and relief, and this took him to numerous remote corners of the world. In 1996 he undertook the first expedition to travel by river from Malawi to the Indian Ocean and back by the Shire and Zambezi rivers, and remains one of the only people alive to have done this. This led to him being asked to do a study into the privatisation of the shipping company on Lake Malawi, and he subsequently took the company over from the Government and ran it as a private enterprise on behalf of Malawian interests.

In between these enterprises, as someone who speaks Portuguese and knows the coast and rivers of that country, he volunteered to assist the British relief effort in the catastrophic Mozambique floods of 2000 and led teams from the RNLI and Fire Service up the River Buzi with a French medical team to do medical evaluations. (He also speaks French.)

Back with his family in the UK now,  he works to increase economic development in the Southwest of England through South West Business Council and maintains his links with Africa, as well as developing new links in places such as China. Not one to sit back on his laurels, he is a double world record holder on the Concept 2 rower for both the small team and large team of over-70s rowing 100 kms.



Inspiration for the Book

The novel is certainly fiction, but it has surprising elements of fact in it. For example, mention is made of the Naparama who went round vaccinating their adherents against weapons. This certainly happened and is a half-forgotten episode of a war that had lasted so long that contact with modern knowledge, education and thought had been lost. They were remarkably successful because their opponents believed they were invincible and, when attacked, threw down their weapons and ran away, believing that retaliation was useless. The locations are all real, and many of the people are based very loosely on real people, but their characters have been changed to suit the story. A street kid called Miguel is featured, and he reappears at the end as a top translator. The basis for this character is entirely true, as is the author’s encounter with him some years later. The attack with RPGs on the landing craft almost exactly mirrors a real event that occurred in real life.

Was there a nationwide conspiracy to steal food aid? The author cannot say, but bases the supposition on snippets of information that happened to come his way. Two and two may make five. Who knows? All these incidents, and others, are examined in a section at the end entitled: “What is Real What is Fiction? The author reminisces.” There is even mention of some information that was given to the author about the mysterious death of the first President of independent Mozambique, Samora Machel.  If it was true, it provides an insight into an unsolved historical mystery.

One last thought – the book should not be used to condemn food aid. Even stolen food aid gets eaten, and at times of great distress, there are always those who seek to take advantage. The spivs of the Second World War are a British equivalent. However, those responsible for relieving distress need to be very aware that there are always people who will profiteer, which, unless it is prevented, puts money in the wrong hands when the emergency is over.