If you ever wondered what life is like on a sailboat during a passage at sea, this is a real-life account of the interaction of a family of four: the husband, an experienced son of a sailor; the wife, a total novice with no experience whatsoever but a strong desire to regain, through this adventure, the closeness that she and her family once had; and two young children who are whisked from the comforts of home, friends, and school and thrust into a new environment so different that no one could have told them in advance what it would be like.
This event would change their lives forever, from the decision to embark to the final sail to home port. As they reach new levels of experience — interacting with each other and the friends and places they encounter along the way – you discover the closeness and camaraderie of the sailing community that abounds no matter where you go.
From her description of Hei Tiki, you get the feeling you are there with Susan as she sees the boat for the first time and realizes how tiny their world is about to become. It’s a lot to ask two people to share such a small space for an extended time, much less two adults and two active children. At the beginning of the voyage and when crossing the Gulf Stream, you realize that simple things you take for granted every day are very different when you cruise. Even the terminology of everyday communication is different. To the uninitiated, some of it is gobbledygook, and anyone who remembers being a novice sailor can relate to the frustration Susan must have felt when asked to do even basic tasks, like anchoring.
To the cruising sailor, daily life at sea means being aware of everything around you — the wind, the sun, even the anticipation of a storm – all these things make you feel more alive as you go about your day. You realize the frustrations and pain that can be caused by being so dependent on the limitations imposed by your environment such as not being able to just run to the store when you need something.
As a sailor who has been from lake to bluewater, I have always relished a good sailing story. And more than a good story is what Susan Tyler Hitchcock weaves as she opens her life to the reader with this literary adventure.
I read somewhere that we write what we know about – and I have found it to be true . . . it becomes obvious to the reader as the journey unfolds that Susan takes you into her soul as she relates the uncertainty of the original decision to go cruising and attempts to find the connecting threads of her family’s life that seem to be unraveling as everyday life extracts its measure of due. Then she sweeps you along with the family as they are thrust into the world of the cruising sailor. Novice that she is, Susan is game to learn and to become a vital part of the crew that sails this small vessel through the blue-and-emerald seas in and around the many islands that begin off the coast of Florida and extend to the Virgins in the Caribbean.
Join them as their journey progresses and experience the events that make up “the cruising life.” Your life will be richer for it; mine certainly is.
Coming About: A Family Passage at Sea by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (Ballantine Books, 1999)