Throughout history, there have been those that have been called out toward the water. Some answer this calling by surfing, some by joining the navy, or taking up recreational boating as a hobby, among other things. However, there are those that feel the seas beckoning them to a greater endeavor…
With somewhat of the flair of “Around The World in 80 Days” but on water, “A Voyage for Madmen,” by Peter Nichols, chronicles the interweaving stories of nine men who sought to accomplish the sailor’s age-old ultimate goal: a solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the world.
What could cause nine otherwise sane and responsible men to risk their lives, careers, and the well-being of their families by undertaking such a reckless endeavor?
“A Voyage for Madmen” follows these lives of these nine persons, with their dubious desires wrought with egoism, each wishing to outdo Sir Chichester’s record being the first person to sail single-handed around the world by the clipper route, as well as being the fastest circumnavigator, having completed his voyage in nine months and one day.
Author Nichols skillfully accounts their individual stories in great detail: why they entered the race, what they had staked on winning, and their very real struggles at sea, which reads like a exciting seagoing tale of adventure. We found it very easy to turn the pages to discover how some were defeated by the power of the ocean or the intensity of the race’s harsh rules, even the lengths to which one contestant went to be declared the winner.
“A Voyage for Madmen” also describes in detail the enormous difficulty of solo navigation in the time before GPS when this race occurred. The careful details and psychological insight of this book make for a riveting account of the triumphant human spirit.
Cynthia Lynn and Ed Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.