Sarah P’s comments: This book is a gripping account of the 1968 first ever Golden Globe Race in which nine sailors set off to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It had never been done and ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death.
How’s that for a plotline? A fascinating read even for those not interested in sailing books. This story has risen to the top of my list of blog posts because just this year they released a movie about one of the sailors in it.
British businessman, Donald Crowhurst entered the race with little funding and even less sailing knowledge. His start was difficult and things went downhill from there. The movie is aptly (in my opinion) named The Mercy and stars Colin Firth, which fact alone is enough to make me want to view it.
However, I would encourage you to read the book because A Voyage for Madmen tells the story of all the racers, the two which I found most fascinating being; Robin Knox-Johnston and the infamous Bernard Moitessier. In fact, it was reading the details of Moitessier’s race, that led me to deciding I had to read his books…
In the next few blog posts, I will share the books that these sailors have written.
‘They can’t answer the question why. They can’t make people who couldn’t do what they do – understand.‘
*I completely disagree with this cataloguing choice. This is adventure of the tallest order which is 910.4 not 797.14 (boating)!
Sarah P’s comments: Once in while I am going to deviate and include a children’s book. For years I was a children’s librarian so it’s bound to happen…
This year we sailed to Nantucket and I biked to Sankaty Head. This lighthouse has been on my bucket list ever since I first read Nightbirds on Nantucket many years ago. Written by Joan Aiken (Conrad Aiken’s daughter), the first third of the book takes place on a whaling ship from Nantucket. It’s fun, it’s authentic, and it makes a great read-aloud if you’re trying to get small fry interested in sailing and ships…
‘Oh, fierce is the ocean and wild is the sound,
But the isle of Nantucket is where I am bound-
Sweet isle of Nantucket! where the grapes are so red,
And the light flashes nightly on Sankaty Head!’
Me @ Sankaty Head, Nantucket, summer 2018
Sarah P’s comments: I’m back from sailing our boat home from North Carolina to Maine…glorious but hot! Along the way, I re-read Tinkerbelle, one of the best small boat voyaging books out there. It’s hard to say why this story is so good but a large part is due to Manry’s straight-forward but light-hearted writing style
When I researched what became of Manry I discovered that the book was so successful that he was able to buy a bigger boat and go cruising for a year with his wife and kids. Wow, great! But the year after they returned his wife died in a car crash and two years later Manry died from a massive heart attack. Those sobering facts lend weight to his ‘do what you can with what you have’ message.
If you enjoy the book and wish to know more, I am happy to report that there is a filmmaker who has created ‘The Robert Manry Project‘ with a goal of promoting Manry’s book and film footage.
Here is a YouTube video link of Manry’s arrival in Cornwall and also a Wikipedia article about him.
The dream of ocean voyaging remained in the back of my mind like an incubating microbe waiting for the right moment to flare up as a full-blown disease. Every so often, after reading some particularly gripping tale, I became afflicted with a virulent sea fever.
I had an inexplicable notion that a voyage was a kind of microcosm of life, a life within a life…It seemed to me, too, that in this abbreviated life a sailor had an opportunity to compensate for the blemishes, failures, and disasters of his life ashore.
Sailing…helps to keep a man aware of his lowly place in the universe, especially if [it] involves celestial navigation. For there is nothing to equal the astringent effect on one’s ego of a long, thoughtful look into outer space.
Sailors have seldom been envied by confirmed landlubbers.
Sarah P’s Comments: Laura Dekker is the youngest person to solo sail around the world…so far. Actually, there was such a outcry about her doing it, that I think the ‘official’ sailing world is discouraging anyone younger trying it. However you feel about her feat, it is quite a voyage (2012) and she is quite an interesting person. What I like most about her story is her sense of individuality and the fact she did it because she enjoys sailing rather than a trying to set a record. Plus, she is still sailing…
Her story has been told in a movie (82 min) shot mostly by herself while underway:
And there is also a paperback which just came out in May (original story is in Dutch):
24 minute YouTube video of Laura talking about her voyage.
American Sailing Association Interview
Website & blog: http://www.lauradekker.nl/
So popular the US created a stamp for her…
For me sailing is very pure. It’s just, you know, nature, as it was over 100,000 years ago. It’s the waves and the wind and the sea – it hasn’t changed in forever.
Sarah P’s comments: If you will be on the East Coast of the U.S. this summer, take time to check out the Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking ship built in modern times
The ship with a crew of 30 is sailing north to Maine and then south to Virginia.
Information about the ship
Arriving in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
‘Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.‘ ~ Sigurd Arse, owner
‘It is thrilling to be close to the Sagas and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.’ ~ crew member
Sarah P’s comments: Loads has already been written about this little gem of a book which is considered literature (hence the 818). However, from a water travel point of view it is a basic primer so I can’t get too far with this blog without including a post about it. If you are considering doing anything on the water, read this first…
I had to judge where I was going from where I had been…all too often I am forced to move toward [my goals] backward, like a boy in a rowboat, guiding myself by an inner sense of direction which tells me I’m tending toward the place I want to be.
To be at one with the wind is to be at home in the world…
For the truth is that to sail, to even contemplate sailing, calls for a fundamental faith in one’s self.
I seek in friends, partners, and mates what I seek in a sloop; a forgiving relationship in which I automatically compensate for their shortcomings and they for mine.
The destination…is the journey itself and not the final stopping place. How I get there is more important than whether I arrive, although I will arrive, and what I must remember is to listen to the wind, and the wind will tell me what to do.
Off the chart…
Sarah P’s comments: Last night I was introduced to The Subdudes who played a show at the superb Boothbay Opera House. Holy Cow…what a performance. Brought me right back to when I lived in Baton Rouge and we used to cruise down to N’leans to hear music. (LA is not an ocean boat-friendly place so other entertainment needed.) Anyway, their style, attitude & coming out into the audience to play…is special. Tom Malone actually skipped down the aisle with his guitar and said, “Skipping is the most economical way to move.”
Definition of skipping: to move along lightly…
Since my logo is: I just had to add this post.
Sarah P’s comments: Dove is the story of Robin Lee Graham’s solo circumnavigation. At the time his story was sensational because of his age; he was only sixteen when he set off (from California) in 1965. His exploits were chronicled in National Geographic and his story became a movie in 1974. Since then he has been followed by ever younger sailors which has caused questions to be raised about whether this is ethical. Whatever you think about it, their adventures make for good reading, starting with Dove. (I will be writing more about the others in subsequent posts.)
YouTube movie: The Dove
SAIL article: Robin Lee Graham on the Latest Teen Circumnavs
Wikipedia List of youth solo sailing circumnavigations
Life would be pretty monotonous if the sky was always blue.
At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.
Happiness has no frontiers, that it’s a state of mind and not a possession, not a set route through life, not a goal to be gained but something that steals in gently like an evening mist or the morning sunlight—something beyond our control.
Sarah P’s comments: This blog mainly focuses on true, non-fiction sailing tales. Not because I don’t like sailing fiction but because, other than the classics (Moby Dick, Captains Courageous, etc.), I haven’t found much current stuff worthy of reading. This book is exceptional in the way that this author captures the ‘feel’ of sailing and water; both river and sea.
Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.
“Caro’s description of her boat home, the Cormorant, will make even readers unfamiliar with sailing feel as though they belong on the water with her. Tolcser blends the right amount of epic fantasy, sea voyage, and romance for a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure. – Kirkus (starred review)
A fair day with a fresh wind has a magic all its own.
To a captain, a ship is more than just something that carries cargo from place to place…you understand the life in her, and it calls out to you…
In spite of everything, my heavy mood lifted as the wind filled Cormorant’s sail.
From the author:
To go forward, sometimes you have to go back. I went back to the folk songs and the sailing adventures I loved, the ones that inspired a girl with dreams of being a pirate.