Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Close to the Wind

Do you ever wonder about doing something amazing, something like the Vendee Globe?

For most of us it's a dream, an imaginary voyage which would mostly involve the good bits - like Sam Davies here describing the magic of dawn at sea, dolphins playing around the bow, surfing down monster waves at edge of disaster speeds.

But the reality must be that it is a tough, draining, battle against a hostile universe, and that is just to get to the start line. To finish the race when things are going right is an achievement, to do it when the world seems against all the way, and to save a man's life as well, is nothing but heroic.

And that is the story of Pete Goss's Vendee Globe which he described in Close to the wind and a cracking read it is.

It takes a lot of dedication to put together an entry - and a lot of money, which he didn't have. When travelling the UK fund raising his wallet couldn't stretch to a B&B so Pete had to sleep on railway station platforms. For two days all he ate were a few biscuits.

Then there's the Vendee itself, when in the midst of the sort of storm where knock-downs happen couple of times an hour he got the distress call from fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli. Pete had to battle upwind through the maelstrom to find the life raft and its occupant, the close to death Raphael.

Pete Goss is ex Royal Marines and so his style is straight forward with clean and to the point writing. So when he describes the rescue as "a very bad experience" you know that's not just a few easy words.

For me the worst bit was later on when he had to operate on his own elbow. I find that hard to imagine as my response would have been ok, that's it, enough of this, I'm going to the nearest doc. But Pete even managed to take a couple of photos of the procedure (er, thanks I guess).

A truly gripping sailing yarn, definitely worth getting and reading.


Pat said...

Our idea of sailing around the world someday when we can afford it...

trip 1... fly to (New Zealand, Balearics, Maine, Croatia, Australia, Devonshire, Thailand, .... whichever) and charter a boat for a few weeks.

trips 2 through n ... continue.

Eventually we'd see what we wanted to while cutting out the boring bits in between. And it might even be cheaper and less stressful than the normal way of going about the globe.

JP said...

Hi Pat - sounds like a good plan.

You might be interested in this article that was in a recent Sunday newspaper.

It's about the French family that got caught by Somali pirate and while a cautionary tale it also describes the vision that sailing around the world can be open to many from different walks of life.