Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Walking on Water

First a confession - I read this book some time ago but didn't get round to reviewing it. But today's a wet Bank Holiday (and how often do those words go together) so as good a time as any for a post.

I picked this up at the Boat Show when I met him just after he'd been awarded Yachtsman of the Year for being the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic. He'd given a talk and come across as a fluent confident speaker and the writing is equally good, well structured and always flowing.

The book covers an earlier time, from childhood and first sailing experiences to the accident, long recovery up to the Round Britain, but no further, so the Atlantic isn't covered.

At first I couldn't make up my mind whether it was about someone coming to terms with their disability via sailing or a sailor who was in a wheelchair. I got the feeling that Geoff would rather it was the latter, that he'd be taken as a sailor first, that you could look beyond the machines that help him move.

However while sailing does indeed alter the direction of a life it can't have the same devastating impact that comes from breaking one's neck and resulting paralysis. The core of book was the story of someone who overcome the hurdles of his body's limitation to do what he loved - in this case sailing. I have a feeling Jamie Andrew's book would have a similar ethos, leaving a similar message and showing a similar character - though with climbing as the focus.

But there's no doubting his great achievement in sailing round Britain in a lively trimaran while barely able to hold a rope. On the way there were disasters including a near drowning in front of the world's media on the first attempt to start the circumnavigation.

A good read of how a determined man overcame almost overwhelming odds to achieve his personal Everest.

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