OUTWARD LEG by Tristan Jones


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Bardic Welsh global circumnavigator Jones' most eloquent book since his first, The Incredible Voyage. In 1983, Jones came down with a case of gout so virulent that his left leg was amputated--and at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, where his bed sat just a few yards away from that wherein Dylan Thomas died. His first day out of the hospital, while sniffing the salt air of the Hudson, two dark figures bowled him off his crutches and took $20 and his credit cards. To sea, to seal Pushing 60, he would make his 60,000-mile world voyage in three months fiat, dedicating this dangerous effort and these long, long days and nights of agony to the handicapped and the young. In San Diego, he found his multihulled trimaran (""She was low, and fast-looking. . .[T] here was an indefinable air of longing about her and when my eyes fell upon her, all the other yachts around her dissolved into a blur""), and renamed her Outward Leg. A yacht ""must live. . . She must have the character, the turn of temperament, the high spirit, to dwell in salt water--with the flow of the wave, with something of the wind captured in her very bones. Perhaps all things touching the elements so completely must have this conforming character, this flame, in order to exist."" Setting sail with him from Ensenada are Ivan and Wally and a large black cat. His course--through the Panama Canal--attempts to follow the tracks of the treasure fleets of Spain, from the New World to the Old. Amusingly, his mail brings him the news that the 25th blessed baby that he knows about has been named for him by a reader or fellow seafarer (he answers mail at sea). Sailing up from Colombia his ship is not safe from storm or disaster, theft or murder by smugglers, while various Central American police and harbor masters offer rich difficulties. Leaving the Big Apple for London with a new crew, he crosses the western ocean to Falmouth and we last see him in London, 14,800 miles into a journey that will be continued in the next volume in Europe. Naked under the stars, Jones has never written better.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
ISBN: 1574090615
Publisher: Morrow