Autobiographical bumboating which reads like Masefield running a temperature: ""By a recognition of his unimportance man begins to achieve his greatness. And it is at sea, far from the sight of men, that he can survey the visible round world, finding himself the strongest if not the happiest being in it."" Cleaves, a longtime public relations man and author of Plenty of Sea Room (1970 -- about his Indian pudding days in Newburyport, Mass.), recounts his year at sea in the early '20's after graduation from Harvard. Ah, what adventure! what schmaltz! Envisioning ""stringing sunlit wind humming through the guy ropes of a ship off a strange coast, the mellow romance of pretty maids and sailormen ashore,"" young Cleaves signs on as third cook with a grain ship out of Montreal headed east, but after a series of catastrophes (brawls, worms in the flour, a fizzled mutiny) he allows that ""This was not the sea 1 had dreamed of, nor the seafaring life I had hoped to live"" and jumps ship -- to the Winona, ""a joyous adventure at every turn."" Cairo! Beirut! the East Indies! And finally home to Boston -- to bore his friends and, alas, now you gentle reader.