on Feb. 22, 2013 :
Carol Anita Ryan has written a beautiful book about her trans-Pacific voyage by sailboat, and also about love, misfortune and courage. The novel is complete, with romance, adventure and tragedy. It is flawlessly written, thoroughly enjoyable, sexy, appealing and heart wrenching.
First the adventure: My, my! As a landlubber, I already get uncomfortable when I step on a small sailboat. Crossing the immensity of the Pacific on such a craft would petrify me. Carol, her boyfriend Bill, Bill’s sister Mary Jo and Mary Jo’s husband Charlie sail the Velela from Mexico to New Zealand! Charlie is captain and co-owner of the Velela with Bill.
How four people (including siblings and in-laws) get along for this lengthy voyage, cooped up on a tiny vessel, is beyond me. Me and my siblings and in-laws, three days is the maximum we can be with each other. After that, we’d kill each other.
But Carol spends nine months at sea with her foursome! There is some minor conflict (about money, supplies, whathaveyou), but nothing serious. They finally separate after nine months - Carol and Bill fly home from New Zealand.
For the better part of nine months, they brave thunderstorms, thirty-foot waves, dead seas. We also learn the intricacies required for such an incredible adventure - GPS of course, safety requirements, solar power for electronic gear, desalinization equipment as back up, how to schedule turns at night watch, etc.
It takes nearly a month just to reach the very first islands - the Marquesas in French Polynesia.
Then on to Tuamotu, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa, finally New Zealand. Sometimes they stay on an island group for a whole month, for example in Papeete, or Fiji. They even toy with the idea of moving there permanently. Fascinating. I actually went to a map of the Pacific to follow their vicissitudes.
The book is a great travelogue - the cultures, culinary delights, people of the South Seas. They meet many people, some of them native, many of them adventure sailors like themselves. There are descriptions of magnificent luminescent sea life and star-studded skies at night, whales, schools of dolphins, (I was reminded of the recent movie “Life of Pi”). The book also has a bunch of nice photos.
The last part of the book comes as a shock. It takes place mostly on the West Coast, primarily in California. As the 20th century winds down, Carol is struck by misfortune. But her courage and positivity shine through. Wonderful narrative, and wonderfully uplifting.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
on April 19, 2011 :
Carol Ryan has crafted a wonderful touching poignant book about her life and her triumph. It is not only only a superb story, but an inspirational message to everyone about the fragile nature of life, and how crucial it is to "live life to the lees" - basically to live one's life to the fullest - that every day counts.
It is also an engaging tale that brings one in touch with some exotic experiences (for those who have never ventured out in the deep blue sea). What is particularly impressive is that this is the first work for this writer; hopefully we can anticipate a follow-up where we see the journey continue.
In summary, a terrific book. Going to give it to a few friends of mine who need to get some perspective on life, and remember how vital it is to live in the moment and cherish every great day we have on this planet.
(reviewed the day of purchase)