A creamy, charming cruise with the over-the-hill gang sailing beyond the horizon. Robert Carter has spent the past ten years of his retirement (he was a marine underwriter) steering his dreamboat through and around 23 countries, skimming from Caribbean coral to glimmering Norse fjords and down to the Aegean and Mediterranean. His boat, named for his wife, is the Cynthia R., a 44-foot ketch outfitted with a somewhat overpowered engine, a useless radio-telephone, and often enough a crew of two or more youths. These are young intellectuals who ask themselves such questions as ""Who is the world's greatest living kamikaze pilot?"" The sea air through open hatches and cracked portholes brings the reader's nitrogens to a soft bubble, but ""with ports and hatches closed the fresh sea air is replaced by the concentrated funk of food and bilge, of diesel and drain, of wet clothes and wet human bodies, of toothpaste and toilet. That too is a part of passage, but not a part we relish."" His subjects include: anchorage around the world; heavy weather, furies and thunder-squalls, but mainly balmy blows and blue-water joys; mixing with people at various ports, folks whose lifestyles are disarmingly odd; spare-parts insanity, dire requirements of illness and accident; and an amusing send-up on autumnal sex-and-violence that seems mostly true. Suavely homespun essays (with no central thread) that whip and crackle and lift.