Hinman (Tightwads on the Loose, 2012) serves up a second real-life maritime adventure.
The author’s first book charted her seven-year sailing trip around the Pacific with her husband, Garth Wilcox. In this follow-up, she recounts an around-the-world voyage that Garth took with his family as a 13-year-old boy. The crew aboard the 40-foot sailboat, christened Vela, consisted of parents Dawn and Chuck along with Garth and his reluctant 10-year-old sister, Linda. The narrative follows the Wilcox family every step of the way, from the very moment they set out from San Francisco Bay on Aug. 20, 1973. There is an immediate focus on the emotional and psychological aspects of this huge undertaking that prevails throughout the biographical tale. Garth imagined himself as a latter-day Horatio Hornblower, eager for exploits. Linda didn’t want to leave her friends or forfeit her role as captain of the football team. Their mother and father had their own worries, questioning what lay ahead and reflecting on leaving ailing parents behind. Relationships were tested as the family circumnavigated all manner of threats, including pirates and naval mines. Yet, the Wilcoxes’ determination remained admirable, particularly when they found themselves shipwrecked on a reef off the coast of Fiji and were forced to rebuild their ship. The author’s expressive writing captures the wonder of being at sea in all its glory: “Days passed quickly, their sea-going routine highlighted by the wonders of nature: meteor showers and dolphins frolicking in their bow wave, storm petrels and albatross as they soared overhead and dipped into the waves, and bioluminescence that trailed behind the boat as though Vela were a rocket shooting through an inky black sky.” Some readers may prefer the urgency of Hinman writing in the first person, as in Tightwads on the Loose. Yet, despite not having experienced this particular seafaring odyssey personally, her engaging narrative succeeds in capturing the thrills and frustrations of this intrepid family. Taking in remarkably far-flung destinations such as Christmas Island and the New Hebrides, this exhilarating book should appeal to any would-be explorer who has stood at the prow of a ship and dreamed of the possibilities.
Highly readable and sufficiently evocative to sense the scent of sea air in the pages.