The second entry in a retired couple’s seagoing travel memoir trilogy.
The inaugural volume of Hofmann’s (The Long Way Back, 2017, etc.) remembrance of an around-the-world catamaran trip chronicled their travels from Canet, France, to San Diego, and this sequel follows them from there, through the South Pacific to Bundaberg, Australia, in 2002. Along the way, the author documents stops in such exotic locales as the Marquesan Islands, French Polynesian islands such as Tahiti and Bora Bora, and New Zealand. This time, the trip is haunted by the dark specter of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Still reeling from their expulsion from the biotech company they founded and frustrated by its subsequent floundering, the Hofmanns were in search of an opportunity for self-reflection and renewal. The author memorably describes their brushes with danger; while sailing though Tongan waters, for example, they heard a radio distress call seeking donations of A-positive blood after a shark attack. They also portray the quotidian quirks of long-distance travel, as well as their simple exhaustion. The book is once again vividly illustrated with full-page, color photographs, and crammed with diverting historical asides; for example, there’s a brief account of the Tahitian origin of the word “tattoo.” Also, this installment includes lessons that Gunter learned about sailing that could prove useful to readers who might be planning a boat trip of their own. Most readers won’t find all of the author’s account to be gripping, and at a certain point, it starts to feel like watching a stranger’s unedited vacation video. Hofmann’s writing, while lucid and sometimes poetic, can also be cliché-ridden. After describing some intramural drama among the staff at a Fijian resort, for instance, she adds, “The plot thickens.” Still, this is an informative travelogue overall, and a gorgeous coffee-table book.
A handsome memoir that should interest would-be sailors, as well as the author’s loved ones.