A recounting of a couple’s voyage by boat from France to California.
Hofmann writes that she and her husband, Günter, left their biotech company after what she describes as a “traumatic coup,” and, as a result, they felt compelled to reassess their lives. Instead of a conventional retirement, they chose adventure and decided to circumnavigate the world by boat—a trip that would ultimately take eight years and would land them in 62 countries. The author and her husband commissioned the building of a 43-foot Catana—“the Rolls Royce of catamarans”—in France, and took courses in sailing and navigation. They encountered frustrating delays in the construction and delivery of their vessel, but eventually set sail from Canet, France, in 2000, intending to end their first voyage in San Diego. (This debut is the first of three volumes that, taken together, document the trip in its entirety.) Over the course of their travels—with memorable, thoroughly described stops in Morocco, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, and many other locations—the two wrestle with tumultuous weather, injury, and mechanical malfunction. The threat of crime reared its head when another couple was robbed at knife point in Costa Rica. While in Mexico, their laptop broke down, and the accumulation of troubles caused Hofmann to have a dispirited meltdown. But she recovered her stride and returned with renewed commitment to their expedition. The book is an eclectic hybrid of multiple genres, including travelogue, personal memoir, and photo essay, and it can even be understood as inspirational self-help when Hofmann reflects deeply on the lessons she learned at sea. The work is illustrated with gorgeous color photography throughout, and sidebars furnish interesting cultural and historical information. That said, the overall aesthetic of the work—which is large and glossy, like a coffee-table book—is still a bit cramped; there’s so much stuffed onto to the pages that it sometimes feels visually chaotic. Hofmann’s prose is always lucid, although she’s inclined toward melodramatic theatricality: “Tomorrow, we must enter that turbulent Strait again, then to the sea beyond. Only God knows what I will find out there.”
A companionable, if occasionally overwrought, tale of adventure.