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    A poor read.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2005 Apr 23, 23:57 +0100

    I enjoy reading about small-boat voyages in deep waters, even though I
    never make them myself, and from time to time report to Nav-L recommending
    books that I've enjoyed, as do other listmembers.
    So it seems only proper, having read a book on a small-boat voyage which I
    definitely HAVEN'T enjoyed, so say so and warn off others, about the
    aspects I so disliked.
    The book is "My old man and the sea", by David and Daniel Hays (Headline
    publishing, 1995). It seemed so promising, a round-the Horn voyage by a
    father and son, made in 1985. They had made an interesting choice of craft;
    a Vertue, the solid, chunky longkeeler of only 25 feet, designed in the
    1930's by Laurent Giles, which , built in wood, has many successful ocean
    passages to its credit. The Hays' version was in glass fibre, and
    interestingly, they decided to do without an engine for their voyage, from
    Connecticut through Panama, Eastward round the Horn, and back.
    The book is written in alternating passages: by the father (mostly about
    his son) and by the son (mostly about his father). They become a mutual
    admiration society, and no detail of their relationship is too trivial to
    be dwelt on, sometimes at great length. There are pages and pages of
    sentimental guff about that father-son bond, to such an extent that those
    aspects of the voyage that would interest us; the boat, the navigation, the
    landfalls and harbours are thoroughly neglected. There are long passages of
    over-emotional family history thrown in, such as a protracted and
    irrelevant account of the death of the father's father.
    And then, the family is Jewish. Nothing the matter with that, except that
    the reader is constantly reminded of it every few pages, from the candles
    at Hanukah to the odd Rabbi joke. What's that got to do with a story of a
    voyage, indeed?
    Making stops at isolated harbours, Easter Island and Falklands, the authors
    show little interest in or regard for the way of life of the inhabitants.
    Nor does any great love for the sea show through in the writing: indeed, an
    occasional quote from Conrad shows up, by contrast, what a real artist in
    words could put together. The whole voyage appears as an Exploit, a
    rite-of-passage for testing that father-son bond.
    As for how the navigation was done, in those days before GPS, I am little
    the wiser. The only references are to very-occasional occasional noon
    observation of the Sun. If there were times when the Sun didn't show, it
    seemed to have occasioned no worry or anxiety.
    I stuck with the book right to the end, and it was with some relief when it
    was finished.
    It may be, of course, that the aspects of the book that I hated might well
    appeal to another reader. If others have tackled it, I would be interested
    in their opinions.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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