The third and final installment of a nautical memoir of a couple’s circumnavigation of the globe.
Hofmann (Sailing the South Pacific, 2012, etc.) and her husband, Gunter, decided to sail around the world in a state-of-the-art, custom-built catamaran, starting in 2000. Their last series of voyages commenced in Australia and circled back to France, where their journey began. Along the way, the couple made memorable stops in Thailand, Singapore, China, and Yemen, among other places; the entire eight-year trip landed them in 62 countries. Many of the troubles they encountered were minor, though understandably exasperating. The author notes that the lack of air-conditioning was oppressive, for example, and she and her husband contended with woeful bureaucratic corruption in Indonesia and Egypt. The couple found themselves at a discomfiting emotional impasse when Gunter suddenly announced that he wanted to abandon the original navigational plan in order to spend as much as another year in Thailand. He was depleted from travel, Hofmann writes, and worried about the wisdom of sailing through Pirate’s Alley, an infamously dangerous stretch of water between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. This is also the most romantic volume of the trilogy, however; the Hofmanns celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in Australia, which she affectingly describes in these pages. Like its predecessors, this is a heavy tome, adorned with spectacular color photographs, and the author furnishes a surfeit of intriguing asides about the lands they visit. Also like its prequels, the journey is too minutely recorded for general consumption; it will serve best as a memoir for the author’s friends and family. And although Hofmann’s prose is reliably clear and passionate, it can devolve into theatricality at times: “I feel like I’m living inside a CIA thriller.” Still, this is an incisive and granular travelogue for those who want to emulate the author’s journey, and her accounts of cultural mores are fascinating, as in her astute comparison of Thai and Malaysian history.
A beautifully produced travelogue, but one that’s far too long and detailed to have very broad appeal.