A seafaring Amelia Earhart chronicles her pioneering sailing career.
In 1969, Adams, aboard the Sea Sharp II, was completing her journey from Yokohama, Japan, to San Diego, Calif., becoming the first woman to single-handedly sail the Pacific. Four years earlier, at 35 and in the wake of her second husband’s untimely death, she had—amazingly, with only eight month’s sailing experience—become the first woman to journey solo from Los Angeles to Hawaii. With journalist Coates (Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War, 2005), Adams recounts both voyages, undertaken at a time before cell phones, computers and GPS removed much of the risk, when the whole idea of a “lady-sailor” placing herself in such jeopardy inspired controversy. Modestly, Adams makes no great claims for her seamanship or courage, nor does she confess a desire to have achieved any “firsts,” either as a mariner or a woman. Rather, she says, “I simply wanted to sail...alone and didn’t see why I couldn’t.” Notwithstanding the troubled personal life only briefly discussed here—early adoption into an unhappy household, the death of two husbands and divorce from two more, the abandonment her two young children—Adams eschews introspection or grand pronouncements on the meaning of it all. Instead, her story, which certainly contains moments of excitement and discovery, dwells on the sheer banality of such sea ventures, emphasizing the need for persistent labor and attention in the face of freely confessed loneliness, fear, depression, nausea, injury and uncertainty. She devotes a few chapters to her globe-trotting life between and after her notable solo sails, crewing in the South Pacific, joining the Queen Mary’s final voyage and working at the Marina del Rey, but the heart of this book and her importance to history rests with her solo conquest of the vast Pacific.
A straight-ahead, determined account by a straight-ahead, determined woman.