Dream trip Interesting
4,800-km journey also a tough, tiring voyage
Sailing Away from Winter: A Cruise from
By Silver Donald Cameron
Douglas Gibson/M&S, 320 pages, $35
Reviewed by Margo Goodhand
CAN there be anything more appealing than a title like this in the middle of the Prairies in the middle of a dark cold spell in January? Shiver our timbers, indeed.
Maritime author Silver Donald Cameron dreamed of making this year-long, 4,800-km cruise to the
Theirs is a particularly interesting journey because they take the
The only catch is the couple kicks off their voyage in
"Cruising books lead you to imagine idyllic sailing, exotic foods, snorkelling, snoozing, and sun-downers in the cockpit," writes Cameron, who has penned numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction, on Maritime subjects. "But few writers admit that such days are sandwiched between intense attention to the forecasts, the navigation and the diesel engine, and long trudges through small-town streets, carrying heavy burdens of food, dirty clothes, and motor oil."
Cameron can't be accused of glossing over the mundane realities of the trip. We read a lot about how hard it is to find a barber shop, Leo's early-morning pees (he has to disembark, for some reason, before he can go, which makes for some anxious times for dog and crew), their good meals, their bad pizzas, their search for an O-ring and other sundry boat parts. In fact, the detail sometimes bogs down the narrative.
But overall, this is interesting reading for any armchair traveller who is even remotely interested in the East Coast. Cameron meticulously chronicles each step of the way, vividly bringing to life, for example, the couple's exhilaration as they putt past the Statue of Liberty in
Cameron's adventures also underscore the danger attached to a trip like this. He runs into a wharf, dodges lobster traps, survives a hellish 24-hour storm, and suffers through a whole gamut of mechanical breakdowns. And he is an experienced sailor with a good vessel.
He's honest enough to admit at one point that he just wants to go home. "This was supposed to be fun," he tells his wife. "But it's just bloody hard work, frightening and miserable. Fuel problems. Electronic problems. Diabolical tides and contrary winds... The hell with it."
Luckily for us and him, she talks him out of it. And at the end, their friends remark on how much younger the couple looks -- tanned, fit, and trim. Even the dog is perkier.
"The voyage had changed us," Cameron writes. "Only now did I realize that I had, in a sense, sailed away from old age and gained a new sense of freedom."
Free Press deputy editor Margo Goodhand is still decades too young to contemplate such an arduous adventure.