Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Addicted to Adventure by Bob Shepton

I met Bob Shepton at the London Boat Show and was immediately caught by his book, Addicted to Adventure.

I had just started reading the Arctic Labyrinth by Glyn Williams (reviewed here), the story of the search for the North West Passage, and what should I find at the front of this book but a map of the Canadian Arctic with a wiggly line going through that very route.

Bob - or the Rev as he is known - is still climbing and sailing in the tradition of Tilman into his 70s, and that must be a moral booster for all worried about how long they can escape that nursing home.

The book tells of his many expeditions, from climbing cliffs by Portland Bill, to sailing down to the Azores, further south to Antarctica, then from Hawaii to Alaska, Scotland to Greenland's west coast, Baffin Island, ending up with the famous NW passage.

It is a hugely impressive list of adventures, and it turns out I'd already had some familiarity with his boat, Dodo's Delight

On my sails north I'd made good use of the Willy Ker's classic pilot book to Faroe, Iceland and Greenland, pictured below: 
And it turns out to be Bob Shepton's boat that can be seen framed by the hole in an iceberg on its cover.

So we had a good chat about Willy Ker and his Contessa 32 at the boat show.

My only reservation is that at times it sounds a bit like a we-did-this-then-that-happened-but-it-was-ok sort of story.

There are some glimpses of his character, and he has the integrity and strength to be open about some of his failings, including throwing a bowl of spaghetti at a crew member in the Falkland Islands. But this should be balanced by a true measure of good character: that many crew members chose to sail with him again and again, heading off together into those wild high latitude spaces.

I'm not much of a climber but would indeed like to be sailing between bergy bits when I'm his age.

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