A computer programmer pursues a sailor’s life in this amusing debut memoir.
Glenn Damato always dreamed of sailing around the world and, at age 41, he decided to quit his well-paid job as a software instructor, raid his nest egg and unfurl the sails. His Silicon Valley comrades are dubious—he’s overweight and has never set foot on a sailing boat. Indeed, Damato has a hidden motive for leaving civilization behind: His love life is at a standstill. During his last date, the woman didn’t even get out of her car when she saw him. “I am guilty of an Appearance Crime worse than ugliness,” he writes. “I am a diminutive man.” So it’s off to the sea for the would-be mariner, who buys a fixer-upper named Serenity and spends much of this book trying to make the vessel seaworthy. Damato seems a bit overconfident about his sailing skills, as he merely takes an introductory course, but he’s definitely a skilled mechanic—he used to work on a nuclear submarine. As a writer, Damato makes his rehabilitation of the craft surprisingly interesting, and he mines plenty of comedy from his ineptitude. For example, when he installs a glorified mulch box as the boat’s toilet, the decision haunts him in the form of “baby diaper stench” and dry heaves. Damato’s interactions with people also provide plenty of cringing humor as he manages to finagle a crew for his maiden voyage: Joyce, an acerbic hippie; Richard, a Coors Light chain-drinker; and Megan, who harbors romantic feelings for our hero. Is there any chance their trip will end in anything but disaster? Damato’s self-deprecating style goes a long way toward engaging readers’ sympathies, and his pithy prose keeps the story speeding along, even if landlubbers may occasionally get lost during some of the more jargon-heavy passages.
An aquatic comedy of errors for anyone who’s ever thought about “going off the grid.”