Saturday, 25 November 2017

Read in 2017 - 37: Sailing Alone Around the World

Joshua Slocum: Sailing Alone Around the World
In 2012 (is it really that long ago?!) my dear blogging friend Kay posted about this book. You can read her review here.

The topic of reading and books features regularly on my and many other blogs, and like most of my long-term readers, Kay knows that I really enjoy good non-fiction reading. Earlier this year, she sent me "Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum - and it took me until last week to finish it. Why so long? For one thing, it has a rather small print, and my eyes are struggling with that at night, so I often to do not read at all at night, even when I would like to. Also, I had several other books on my TBR pile before I started on "Sailing Alone". And last but not least, I found it a little challenging to get into the whole sailing jargon (remember: English is not my native tongue).

But I did read it all, and appreciated the humour Kay mentions in her review. I also found it interesting to learn a thing or two about how travelling was organised back in 1895, when Captain Joshua Slocum set off on his voyage around the world - all alone on a slope named Spray
He tells the reader about the places he visits, the way each harbour works just a little differently; some taking their rules stricter than others, for instance when it comes to giving a new arrival a clean bill of health before allowing them to go ashore. 
There are many accounts of the people he meets during the three years it took him to complete the voyage, sometimes staying for days, weeks or even months in one place. Some encounters are funny, others dangerous, but of course the reader already knows that Slocum survives, as he would not have been able to write the book otherwise.
The same is true for the storms and other severe weather conditions that are part of the voyage.

In one instance, he expresses his gratitude for having all the "mod cons" (of course he does not use those words) on board his ship and would not have wanted to travel the seas a century earlier - and for us, reading his book, it is the same: I would not want to swap with him, alone on a small wooden vessel with no electricity, no hot shower, toilet, or fridge - and no internet...!

So, thank you, Kay, for having me sent this book. It took me much longer to finish than I expected, but I am glad I stubbornly stuck with it :-)


  1. Maybe I will try to read this......I recently bought a copy for my son because Kay mentioned it to me, only to discover he had already read a friend's copy. He did enjoy it even though he is more interested in his steam launch on a lake than a sail boat.

    1. That's the trouble with books; if someone reads a lot or owns many books, it can easily happen that we give them one they already know or have.

  2. So pleased to see your review here! I know that this book is considered a classic for those who are sailing enthusiasts but for a land-locked poor person like myself...I have no idea why books of the sea are so appealing to me! I liked his writing style, it is very much the way I like to write, to the point without too much descriptive language but enough that makes me pause and think...that is exactly the way I would describe it.
    So sorry you had to struggle through the print...but I hope you liked the illustrations!
    I have to say- your English is so very good that yes, I do sometimes forget that it is not your first language! I have read books about the sea for many years. When I was in elementary school, I won my class spelling bee when I could spell "gunwale"!

    1. I love this little anectote about you winning a spelling bee with "gunwale" - it is so "you", Kay :-)
      Maybe I'll have eye surgery next year, and afterwards won't struggle with relatively small print in books anymore. It will also help when/if I'll get a brighter lamp for my bedside table.