The Nautical Chart

By: Arturo Perez-Reverte

'Spanish galleons and sunken treasure have been the stuff of adventure novels since Robert Louis Stevenson sent the man with the black spot into the bar of the Admiral Benbow. The Nautical Chart succeeds in proving that in the right hands they can still inspire romance and intrigue in the 21st century ... A clever, well-crafted literary adventure story: a romantic intrigue for all fans of the intellectual thriller' The Times

'Powered by an infectious joy in storytelling, [Perez-Reverte’s] vessel speeds to a surprising and satisfying destination. This is literature that is unembarrassed also to be entertainment, and is thus a noble tribute to its salty forebears of centuries past...

As an adventure yarn, The Nautical Chart is near-irreproachable'


'Perez-Reverte places his adventure within an exciting tradition of maritime storytelling... Tanger Soto has a determination that reminds me of Peter Hoeg's Miss Smilla' Independent

'This vivid and colourful tale of lost treasure, love and betrayal on the high seas is a work that conjures the shade of past masters of nautical adventure. Conrad, Melville and Stevenson are in this heady brew, but not one of those masters ever produced something quite as rich and strange as Perez-Reverte's utterly individual narrative' Barry Forshaw,

A classic of its genre, equal to the best of Eric Ambler and Patrick O'Brian - and, beyond genre, not far below the levels and depths plumbed by Melville and Conrad themselves ... In a virtually perfect fusion of absorbing action and precise, intricate characterisation, Perez-Reverte magically sustains the tension and suspense over a span of almost 500 pages' Kirkus Reviews

'In the most marvellous way, The Nautical Chart makes the wind of the high seas blow once more' Le Monde

'O'Brian himself would envy Perez-Reverte s gift for storytelling and his nautical savvy Le Figaro Magazine

ARTURO PEREZ-REVERTE was born in 1951 in Cartagena, Spain. He was a television journalist who has appeared on some of the world's most dangerous crises. He is the author of The Flanders Panel, The Dumas Club, The Seville Communion  , and The Fencing Master.


Firstt published 2001 by Harcourt, Inc., New York

First published in Great Britain 2002 by Picador

This paperback edition published 2002 by Picador an imprint of Pan Maaniilan Ltd Pan MacmiUan, 20 New Wharf Road, London ru 91m Basingstoke and Oxford Associated companies throughout the world

ISBN 0330486179

Copyright © Arturo Perez-Reverte 2000 English translation copyright O Margaret Sayers Peden 2001

The right of Arturo Perez-Reverte to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The right of Margaret Sayers Peden to be identified as the translator of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

© Map pages viii-ix: Carlos Puerta O Map pages x-ii: Reproduced under permission of the Instituto Hidrogrifico de la Marina. Not valid for navigational purposes. Please note the disinterested collaboration of the Instituto Hidrografico de la Marina.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham plc, Chatham, Kent

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out,

or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which

it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

A nautical chart is much more than an indispensable instrument for getting from one place to another; it is an engraving, a page of history, at times a novel of adventure.





LET US observe the night. It is nearly perfect, with Polaris visible in its prescribed location, to the right and five times the distance of the line formed between Merak and Dubhe. Polaris will remain in that exact place for the next twenty thousand years, and any sailor watching it will be comforted by seeing it overhead. It is, after all, reassuring to know that something somewhere is immutable, as precise people set a course on a nautical chart or on the blurred landscape of a life. If we continue perusing the stars, we will have no difficulty finding Orion, and then Perseus and the Pleiades. That will be easy because the night is so clear, not a cloud in the sky, not a hint of a breeze. The wind from the southwest eased at sunset, and the dock is a black mirror reflecting the lights of the cranes in the port, the lighted castles high on the mountains, and the flashes—green on one side and red on the other—from the lighthouses of San Pedro and Navidad.

Now let us turn to the man. He stands motionless, leaning against the coping of the wall. He is looking at the sky, which appears darker in the east, and thinking that in the morning the easterly will be blowing, raising a swell out beyond the harbor. He also seems to be smiling a strange smile. Lighted from below by the glow of the port, his face is less hopeful than most, and perhaps even bitter. But we know the reason. We know that during the last weeks, at sea and a few miles from here, wind and waves have been decisive in this man's life. Although now they have no importance at all.