Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review: Always a Distant Anchorage - Hal Roth

Since I launched into this undertaking two years ago, the two cruising writers I heard most frequently mentioned were Eric Hiscock and Hal Roth. I have a set of Hiscock's books on the night table and expect to get at them this winter and I just finished my first Hal Roth book last week. Always a Distant Anchorage is the retelling of Hal's and his wife Margaret's circumnavigation from Maine, through the Panama and Suez canals onboard their yacht Whisper.

I have read a couple dozen books about people's sailing adventures. More than any other genre, it seems that sailing a long distance inspires even the most pedestrian of writers to put pen to paper (digit to digital input interface?) and tell their tale sailing. Of those, Hal stands out as a guy with the most solid of writing skills.

This guy can tell a story. I was riveted from start to finish, even taking the book along with me to work, which I don't often do. It was easy to pick up and read for a short bit, or again for longer stretches and it was loaded with both a mix of immediate and interesting adventures, reflection on the lifestyle and experiences, and background on the places and people they encountered.

This particular book also offers a nice blend of sublime moments in beautiful oceanside settings and adrenalin-inducing moments of risk and uncertain outcome, as when Hal and Margaret run up on a reef that their chart mistakenly mis-mapped.

Two thumbs up, highly recommend! Kris is reading it now.


Dan said...

Hal Roth does tell a good story and his journys tend to be a bit off the beaten track.

I can't remember the name of it, but he wrote a book about cruising in Tierra del Fuego and actually getting shipwrecked in an anchorage near Cape Horn. They salvaged and rebuilt their boat and continued.

When I was a teenager in the late 60's, they came to town with a slide show about circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. Interesting stuff!

Greg and Kris said...

I think that's Two Against Cape Horn. I picked up his Seafaring Trilogy, which is a set that includes that title. Looking forward to reading that one!