Republication of the real-time maritime adventures of the bestselling crime-thriller author.
In 1973, fed up with more than a decade in advertising and yet to finish the first of his 50 novels, Woods (Unnatural Acts, 2012, etc.) decided to take time off. He moved to a remote coastal area in Ireland, “an ideal place…[with enough] peace and quiet to make it very difficult to find an excuse not to write.” Instead, he tried his hand at sailing, connecting with the local sailing club and becoming quickly hooked, despite an early misadventure with a borrowed dingy in which a rapid incoming tide almost swamped his car. Undaunted, Woods purchased a 30-foot cruising yacht designed to his own specifications. Less than two years later, he had qualified for and entered the 1976 Single-Handed Transatlantic Race. Originally published in 1977, this then-debut memoir describes the author's two-year apprenticeship in the lore of the sea, from navigation to boat design, a journey that culminated in a hair-raising six-week solo, trans-Atlantic sail. Of the 125 boats that started in 1976, 36 dropped out and five sank, and there were two deaths by drowning. The author finished 63rd, an impressive accomplishment. In addition to frightening winds and other nasty weather, Woods’ challenges included disturbed sleep, diminishing food and water, a series of structural failings and mechanical problems. Solitude did not prove to be a serious problem, although he suffered from the hallucinatory experience of hearing a nonexistent phone ring.
An entertaining adventure tale worthy of republication.