I read The Long Way first in the 1970's when I fancied doing sailing as a life during a crazy fit of romanticised thinking about my own future. Moitessier's account of his voyage and how he abandoned the race made the story rather as though it should have been called "Zen and the Art of lone sailing"! He was a mystic and his roots in Vietnam and France all helped him to have a very metaphysical outlook on the art of sailing alone around the world battling the elements of nature and with himself. It's not the usual run-of-the-mill single-handed stuff. His writing style was so well-structured that he even wrote interestingly about being bored for days on end when becalmed in The Doldrums at the start of the race. Then his account of how he went on to abandon the race and sail more miles than almost anyone else had ever done without touching land was superb. It showed how he was emulating Joshua Slocum the first ever long-distance solo yachtsman and he wrote about his respect for that person very touchingly. He named his boat Joshua in tribute. One might imagine that once he'd left the cut and thrust of the race around the world that he'd run out of things to grip the reader with, but this was not so. He kept interest going with his communion with nature and his unique way of being part of the experience of all that was good, bad, terrifying or ecstatic in turns about sea voyages on your own. The book The Long Way was nothing like other circumnavigations by all the famous people who were into that kind of thing at that time. But I read The Long Way several times and every time it seemed fresh in my mind. Like all good books, I found something new in it to think about on each reading. I can recommend it. I lent mine to someone and they lost it. So I am going to buy another copy and read it again after a lapse of some 23 years. It's going to be as fresh as ever.
Having read many books on the sea; this captured some of them moments which most sailors can't begin to put in to words let alone fill a book with. Fantasticaly written and descriptive to the point of feeling the real world slip away to a blue ocean with nothing but dolphins and the wind for company. Great....
Moitessier was the most mystical of sailors. This book tells of his solo round the world voyage in 1968 in the Sunday Times race. But what separates it is that it is written by a man with the heart of a poet. It is about his emotional and sensual experience of the high seas with beautiful desciptions of the sense and wonder of the voyage not its functional and nautical fact. He was a man in love with the cosmos and the process of living that the deep mystery and awful beauty of the sea alone could reveal to us. It is not the story of a man set aginst the oceans, struggling and endeavouring to overcome them, but a man who departs for them, merges with them and in so doing finds a profoundity he could never find on land.
The other reviews seem to be from armchair sailors, so I add mine as a solo yachtsman.
Moitessier is a mystic and very French in his philosophical description of his experiences... reading this on land one can't help but feel that he is rather self-obsessed, the small notes of interest that he finds in such repetitive and lonely struggles are rather pale in comparison to any work of fiction.
But having been out there alone, I find that he catches perfectly the changed state of mind, and the ground swell of emotions that build over days. This is the perfect book to help you understand the frustration of the calms, the fear/adrenalin rush of the storms, the warm glow of humanity that diffuses through the crackly short-wave broadcasts.
If you ever plan to go it alone, buy this book. I would not leave port without it - I found nothing so calming when faced with a falling barometer as to read about his major storms and the gentle stoic way he endured.
A good holiday read? No. More a manual for understanding your self and your boat, that you will reread to relive your own memories or to prepare for their making.
Whenever I see a copy of this book I buy it - simple as that. Romanticist, realist, adventurer and supreme soloist with a powerful ability to paint mental pictures for anyone interested in sailing open oceans. This is not only a book about the first non-stop circumnavigation but also a highly individual story about Moitessiers' own philosophy and approach to long distance sailing. Beautifully observed and written.
I really enjoyed this book and ended up feeling a kindred spirit with this truly great sailor. It`s not the usual tale of the solo circumnavigator, indeed apart from the appendix, the details of his boat, rig etc during the 1968 Golden Globe will prove perhaps a little too sparse for some. Moitessier was the antithesis of say, a Francis Chichester - he was a kind of Hippy of the Oceans, but one fully in tune with the moods of the sea and winds of our planet. Sailing for him was very much about finding his own inner peace. `The Long Way` is a fine book, but read it as a philosophical tale as much as sailing journey if you can.
Quality read, facts are given to you, maybe with his opinion but in such a way as you are able to question and ascertain whether the information is relevant to you, the appendix at the end was a real insight into storms, repairs, do it yourself and his thoughts on boat construction, valuable reading whether you are an inshore sailor or a round the world sailor.
This is an excellent book. Much more poetical than other sailing books - a man in touch with the sea. Lovely to read. I enjoyed it because it makes a change to other sailing literature although maybe it gets a little TOO dreamy eyed towards the end - suddenly losing track of the voyage and never quite picking it up again.
On 22 August 1968, Bernard Moitessier, an experienced sailor regarded in his native France a national hero, set sail in his yacht "Joshua" from Plymouth on the first single handed non-stop round the world yacht race along with eight other sailors and the race was extraordinarily dramatic and tragic with only one person finishing and that was not Moitessier. However, far from his boat being wrecked or damaged he decided that sailing was so satisfying and uplifting that he did not want the voyage to end. After rounding Cape Horn and crossing his outward track in the south Atlantic he decided to opt out of the race and he sailed across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean again to Tahiti to drop in on old friends.
Moitessier was a highly skilled sailor, perhaps the greatest of his generation and might well have won the race if he had continued to Plymouth but apparently the thought of returning to the "snakepit" as he called Europe with all the hullabaloo that awaited him was not all appealing so he decided to take this very unauthodox action.
Moitessier is a great writer and his description of his voyage and his feelings during the journey are vivid and fascinating. However, I was also looking for coherent reasons why he decided to drop out of the race but I felt rather disappointed that the book did not tell me this to the degree I hoped. My guess is that the competitive element of the voyage was not to his taste and he hated the thought of all the razamataz he would receive when he got home. After he rounded Cape Horn his writing becomes meandering and I gradually lost interest which is sad as I found the earlier part of his book so exciting and satisfying.