Friday, December 11, 2009

Voyaging the Pacific - Miles Hordern

Just finished this one and found myself stringing it out, the last third. I was enjoying the location, maybe more than the writing. Although, I found it well written. Miles is a pom living in New Zealand and he embarks on a trip across the Southern Ocean, which is a large part of the book. He talks a lot about the expanse of ocean, the history of it, and more, while also doing a good job of putting you right in the cockpit and the cabin of his single-handed 28-footer.

He eventually runs into the South American continent and winds up helping on a mapping effort in the many islands, sounds, and waterways of the Chilean coast. He manages to evoke the place in a way that again puts you right there with him.

Eventually, Miles bears off to the North and then picks up the Trades and heads west. I found it quite interesting how many places he sailed right past; in the spirit of Moitessier, Mr. Hordern seemed happier to slip on past and keep to see.

My first experience of the Gambier Islands was through his writing here.

I found the bibliography to be a treasure trove of titles that I expect to tackle soon. There appear to be a couple editions of this out there, one of which has a variation on this title.


Carl said...

Greg-- I read the same book last year, but must say that I was disappointed with the book's ending, where, as I recall, he left the boat and went back to England for a year, then returned to finish his trip-- where I was disappointed was his allusions to "something being up", so to speak, with him psychologically-- and where, for instance, Bernard Mortissior was painfully honest,revealing, and self-examining with his need to be alone with the sea, I felt that here, Hordern whiffed, and either wasn't willing to share the "arc" of his character development, or, worse, wasn't willing or able to examine it thoroughly. Thus, I was left a bit unsatisified, with the book for me becoming only a travelogue, and not a psychological self-examination of what, exactly, drove him to take on the voyage alone, then leave it, and eventually return.

By the way, I just finished a book published in 1976 called "Log of the Mahina", by John Neal, about his cruising from Seattle to the South Pacific in an Alden Vega 27 footer. Do you know about John Neal? Although lacking in literary pretension, I still enjoyed the book for its log-like quality, and honesty of a first time-er, making this voyage, and sharing with him his adventures with a very "pre-development" South Pacific. After finishing the book, just for fun, I Googled "John Neal" and found him alive and well and offering courses on his 46 footer down in the South Pacific on how to become a bluewater cruiser-- and BEST, for people like you and I who are looking for a boat, he offers unbiased advice and assistance on helping you find your perfect oceangoing cruiser, for a set fee. His website is I ended up emailing him the very night I finished his book, and had a response from him within an hour-- from Aukland, NZ-- dang that internet is amazing!

-- Carl Davis (work friend of Kris')

Greg and Kris said...

Good lead, Carl. Looks like that guy has the lifestyle figured out. :)