Frank but self-congratulatory coming-of-middle-age memoir about sailing from Florida to Maine on a 40-foot trawler.
A New York book editor who had recently relocated to a dull managerial job in rural Pennsylvania, still reeling from her breakup with longtime girlfriend Leslie, South chucked it all to buy the Shady Lady and attend a nine-week professional mariner training course in Florida. Then she set out on the Bossanova (renamed to commemorate her fondness for things Brazilian) with two Jack Russells and a classmate to sail 1,000 miles up the East Coast. Despite the fact that John was a Republican from Chicago who drove a Cadillac and referred to women as broads, the two were surprisingly companionable; together they braved storms, navigated at night, nearly capsized and drank at marina bars. After John disembarked at Sag Harbor, Long Island, South met a good-looking sailor named Lars, with whom the hitherto exclusively gay author enjoyed a surprisingly satisfying affair while sailing to Maine and painting his barn over the summer. There’s not much substance to this flimsy narrative, which features a good deal of shipboard daydreaming about former lovers who didn’t stay. South comes across as so emotionally needy that it’s hard to see how she managed to make such a risky trip (and in fact, she relied greatly on the help of men). In the end, her account of this supposedly life-changing experience seems more calculating than heartfelt.
A lot of back-patting and New-Agey good feeling, but precious little of sailing (or emotional) substance.