Sea tri­als Around the World with Duct Tape and Bail­ing Wire

By Wendy Hin­man (Salsa Press, 2017; pa­per­back $20, e-book $5.99).

Cruising World - - Underway - — Lynda Mor­ris Chil­dress

In 1973, a San Fran­cisco fam­ily de­parted on a planned fouryear round-the-world voy­age. The Wil­cox crew — Chuck; his wife, Dawn; and kids, Garth, 13, and Linda, 10 — set sail with vary­ing de­grees of en­thu­si­asm (at a time when world cruis­ing was un­com­mon and off­shore nav­i­ga­tion was ce­les­tial) to ful­fill what was pri­mar­ily Chuck’s life­long dream. The book’s ti­tle hints at what’s to come. With sig­nif­i­cant text­book prepa­ra­tion and train­ing, some in­shore ex­pe­ri­ence but no off­shore or shake­down cruis­ing aboard their 40-foot wood Maine Pinky, Vela, the voy­age it­self be­comes a se­ries of sea tri­als. There are plea­sures and many pit­falls, in­clud­ing a near-dis­as­trous ship­wreck on a Pa­cific reef and the painstak­ing sal­vage and re­pair of Vela in a re­mote port.

The au­thor, an ex­pe­ri­enced sailor who is mar­ried to the nowadult Garth, tells this riv­et­ing tale with ob­jec­tive skill and re­straint in terms of both shift­ing fam­ily dy­nam­ics as the cruise pro­gresses and what might (or should) have been done dif­fer­ently. Even as the fam­ily builds sea­man­ship skills, read­ers will likely find them­selves brac­ing for (or judg­ing) what comes next, yet it’s impossible not to care about them and the out­come. This tale of a cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion that ul­ti­mately took five years, com­pleted against all odds, is full of real-life drama and “lessons learned” — a feat of per­se­ver­ance fu­eled by de­ter­mi­na­tion. It is impossible to put down un­til the nail-bit­ing end.

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