“Being on a boat seemed to be able to offer everything that a life stuck behind a desk could not: excitement, freedom, fresh air, movement, being outdoors, using my body as well as challenging my mind as I learned new skills like sail trim and navigation,” writes Emma Bamford in the prologue to Casting Off.
In a story peppered with Briticisms, 33-year-old Emma chronicles her journey from journalist for TheIndependent in London to explorer of exotic locales. Her book is well written and well edited, reading more like a novel than still another tale of Girl Leaves Job, Sails Into Sunset.
Know up front that there are not a lot of sailing scenes. “A crossing is a crossing is a crossing,” she writes of her weeklong crossing from the Andaman Islands to Galle in Sri Lanka. She goes on to apologize for sounding blasé and explains that a blow-by-blow account doesn’t necessarily make for the most interesting reading.
The author spends more words on events ashore than those aboard as she shares what is essentially a three-part cruising adventure. The book begins with Emma jumping ship from her job and traveling to Borneo where she pays to join a middle-aged man and his cat on a 46′ sailboat. The second segment finds her sailing for free aboard a catamaran; her final adventure is as paid crew on an Italian yacht.
As one reads, it seeps into the story that the author has honed a variety of cruising and personal skills. For one, she focuses on letting go of control and learning to go with the proverbial flow. That flow leads her to the last page that it is (Not) the End. Rather a Beginning. I, for one, will look forward to reading her further adventures.
Casting Off: How a City Girl Found Happiness on the High Seas by Emma Bamford (Adlard Coles Nautical, 2015, 346 pages)