May 06, 2012

Desperate Voyage by John Caldwell

I went into this book not realizing that it was actually a true story. And it was an interesting story, although I couldn't help but shake my head at a few of Caldwell's decisions.

Caldwell, after having to leave his new wife behind in Australia, decides that he can't stay away any longer, and buys a small sailboat in which to sail from Panama back to Australia. And he goes alone, with only two kittens as company. He suffers through more hardships than can be imagined. Some of its due to the weather, but sometimes its due to his own foolishness as well. But he meets some interesting people along the way, and also nearly starves. A very exciting adventure in all. And his descriptions of sailing on a boat for so long are very detailed and probably paint a very accurate picture of what he experienced.

Since its mainly Caldwell and the kittens on the boat, he spends a lot of time with his thoughts. And he doesn't tend to describe himself very often, unless its to comment on the state of his non-shaving. But he does think often of his wife and that's very admirable. She must have been some woman, and you could definitely tell he loved her enough to put himself through such an ordeal. I also liked his take on the islanders, he always described them favorably. And his description of the cats, wonderful. They were very entertaining.

I had a hard time with the parts of this book that described some technical aspects of sailing the boat. It just took away from the actual story for me and there's only so many times you can hear about pumping out the bilges really. And some of the things he does to himself just has me cringing. I guess I just wouldn't take such risks with my life on an already risky adventure. But then again I was only getting part of it as I'm sure he didn't give the whole story in the book. But I did admire his courage, and the fact that he survived such a journey.

An interesting book. Maybe not to my tastes but anyone who's into nautical journeys should find it interesting. And since its a true story, it makes the tale quite amazing.

Desperate Voyage
Copyright 1949
243 pages

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