The story of mariner Jones' recent 2,300-mile trip from England to the Continent and up the heart of Europe by its waterways--and a well-wrought bookend to his first book, The Incredible Voyage. Jones is less lavish with his Welsh lyricism these days but still writes with great brio. In his usual superhuman way, he wrote the present 330-page book in a 28-day layover between voyages. That is all part of Jones' legend and much in evidence here: the shoestring financing by which he inches his way from port to port, hoping for a magazine-article sale or advance on his skimpy book contracts. In 1982, Jones lost a leg under a Dutch streetcar, and since then his voyages have been purposeful triumphs made to bolster the handicapped. Indeed, at the start of the present journey, his prosthetic leg slips on the rainy deck, throwing him below. He staves in three ribs and collapses a lung. After 10 days in an Amsterdam hospital, he finds he's in ""the croaking-shop"" and that all of his elderly ward mates are dying; instantly he's up, pays his bill and is gone. Everyone informs Jones that his trimaran Outward Leg is too big for this dangerous voyage, that his chances at best are 20-to-l. Barely a month into the voyage, his two-man crew signs off, not wanting to be involved in such an obvious failure. En route to the Black Sea by way of the Rhine and the Danube, he battles midwinter ice, wild rapids, narrow passes, rams another boat, and meets death face to face while being swept stern first toward a German railway bridge. Even so, it is the German bureaucrats who truly impale him: "". . .minions bitter at being. . .exposed for what they were: small-visioned people with the lives and imaginations of cart horses, and the meanness of challenged and cornered rats, and the viciousness of outwitted wolves."" All is not ice and trembling, however, and Jones finds himself sailing through gorgeous gorges on the Rhine and listening to Beethoven ""in the calmness of a windless night, bright and clear with starlight, with tears in my eyes. . ."" The salty curmudgeon in smashingly top form.