Perhaps some of you have been following the news of Abby Sunderland, a sixteen year old Californian who has been attempting to sail alone around the world these past few months (she's also got a fantastic blog). Abby made the news yesterday when she encountered storms in the Indian Ocean, losing contact with the outside world and activating her emergency locator beacons. A huge rescue mission has been dispatched, but this will take another 24 hours at least to reach the young sailor.
A Reader's Respite has been sailing boats since we were a teenager and we understand the lure of the sea. We are also a parent and are trying to be open minded about the decision to allow your sixteen year old to put themselves in danger. While we're not sure it's the decision we would have made, we are wholeheartedly hoping the rescue boats find Abby safely aboard her lifeboat, shaken up but no worse for wear. Either way, we can smell a book deal a mile away.
*UPDATE* Thanks to the collective (and generous) efforts of the Australian government and Quantas Airlines, Abby was spotted this morning alive and well, albeit with a very damaged boat, by a Quantas Airlines Airbus 330 that planned a route over her location and flew down low enough to spot her.
What lures a person to the sea? There have been more than a few authors over the years that have done a beautiful job of putting this into words. Some of our favorites, although we would caution you that if you've never felt the wild ocean calling out to you, these books might unleash the inner-adventursome-sailor lurking within.....
Nat Philbrick is the master chronicler of real-life sea adventures. And he has the awards to prove it. Sea of Glory is the fabulous story of the U.S. Exploring Expedition. Never heard of them? Neither had most Americans until Philbrick brought them back to life. Between 1838-1842, these six ships circumnavigated the globe while charting the northwest coast of America and then later "discovering" Antarctica. They gathered priceless cartography and scientific information and faced their fair share of adventure along the way.
Okay, so maybe this one won't exactly make you run out and buy a boat. But it did win a National Book Award. It's the true story of the whaling ship Essex, which was sunk by a big ol' whale in the Pacific Ocean in 1820. Eight men survived, if you can believe that. This is what inspired Melville to write Moby Dick, though, so it's worth a gander.
This book is a truly inspirational tale of a man diagnosed with heart disease and his quest to find some meaning to his life. It led him to a sailboat and he and his family actually completed a trans-Atlantic voyage that ends in Ireland. The importance of family and nature really abound in this one.
Now here's some adventure. Hal Roth recollects his participation in the second single-handed (that means you do it all alone, no help, just you and the boat) around the world sailboat race that took place in 1986. Storms and boat malfunctions abound, but the awesome adventure is simply inspiring.
The Incredible Voyage was the sailing book that A Reader's Respite cut our teeth on. Tristan Jones wrote quite a few books, but it's this story of sailing his small boat from the lowest point of water (the Dead Sea) to the highest (Lake Titicaca in the mountains of Bolvia, then sailing down the Amazon) that completely enthralled us. Our water-logged copy of this amazing adventure still resides in our boat. It's that good.
Someday we'll tell you the story of the summer we spent on the sailboat with only a copy of War and Peace for company. It was the only way A Reader's Respite was going to finish that damnable book.