Spurr, a former Cruising World editor, sets sail aboard a 33- foot fiberglass boat on a yearlong cruise of the Intercoastal Waterway that becomes a voyage of self-discovery. The author starts out north from his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, with his new wife, Andra, and his children from a previous marriage--Peter, 12, a victim of cerebral palsy; and Adriana, 16, for whom the boat was named. Spurr's ``harbor- hopping'' of the East Coast is highlighted by his natural history of the lobster and of the eerie Isles of Shoals, ``inhabited only by gulls and Unitarians,'' and by an encounter with a customs agent who is relieved to learn that Spurr's flag of Texas is not ``Monrovian.'' While snowbound in Salem, Spurr and his wife find that she's pregnant with a baby neither wants. Returning to Newport to reprovision and pick up mail, Spurr learns that Peter, who by this time has returned to Michigan to begin school, has been hit by a train and killed. The boy's death haunts the resumed cruise, while the gradually welcomed pregnancy provides an obvious counterbalance. Spurr offers wonderful descriptions of sailing the polluted waters around Manhattan; of being lost in a snowstorm and of observing ``sea smoke'' in the Great Dismal Swamp Canal; of running aground at Islamorada, Florida, and drawing a crowd of advisers and local reporters; and of celebrating Christmas in Key West. By the arrival of summer and a newborn baby boy, Spurr has sailed on to the Bahamas. Captures the essence of sailing, from the ``mind-numbing'' boredom of becalmed seas to riding out a storm in a cabin like the ``inside of a tambourine.''