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Maiden Voyage

The completion of this book marked the first milestone of the first milestone towards my dream of Cruising– read at least 3 books about the topic. One down, two to go…

As I mentioned in previous posts, this book was very slow to start, but once I was past the first chapter it became much easier to read, drawing me in to the life of Tania in those days some 20-years ago.

The story is a true tale, written by the author, about an 18-year-old girl from Manhattan who, with no real purpose in life, is challenged by her father to circumnavigate the globe solo in a small sailboat. It begins when she is a few miles off of the coast of NY on her return leg after several years at sea, and then flashes back to tell the entire story from the very beginning. Up until she left, her sailing experiences had been sparse, and she had never sailed single-handed. However, armed with a plethora of technical manuals, sailing charts and a stronger-than-nails will, she thrusts herself into the situation and learns quite quickly what her boat, and herself, are capable of.

The story is wonderful, though a little rough in some spots. She never hesitates to remark on her mistakes or personal hang-ups, and as the story unfolds she also candidly relates her own personal history. She tells of friends made and friends lost, her mothers death, her strained relationship with her father.

I found this story to be truly uplifting – a story of the remarkable human spirit for adventure. It was certainly a great read for someone considering a similar adventure, and I imagine anyone with a love for personal-triumph stories will enjoy this book.

I was left with a few concerns after reading it though. Her trip takes place in the late 80’s. I know the rest of the world is much different today than it was 20 years ago, but I wonder to what extent it would be noticeable while at sea? Tania talks about having to avoid certain ports because of geo-political reasons, but she still manages to spend several months traveling close to many nations that would now be considered dangerous for US travelers. Her stories of the people that she meets while docked at some of these ports are always positive and related with fondness – total strangers that take her in and help her, asking nothing in return. I wonder if the world has changed too much the worse since then?

Tania currently writes articles for many sailing magazines, gives speeches on her trip and has been known to lead sailing excursions for women of all ages. To date, she has not written any other books.

* This post was originally published on August 19, 2006 at http://www.csb7.com/blogs/whyblogwhy/2005/08/19/book_review_maiden_voyage_by_tania_aebi