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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and tense throughout
When a friend advised me to read this, I thought, "Why would I want to read that? I have no interest in sailing." Thankfully, my friend insisted.

The narrative is beautifully weighted with the perfect amount of detail, both biographical and concenring the Fastnet Race itself. Not only did I learn a great deal about this tragic race, but I also started to really...
Published on 14 Jun. 2007 by Fraser Hodson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Survival
The 1979 Fastnet race was a desperate tragedy and this book conveys one mans' experience and emotional response to events as they unfolded.To subject the narrative to literary criticism is to miss the point. Any sailor reading this book will identify with many of the emotions expressed and will be shocked by the inadequacies of the BBC shipping forecast on that occasion...
Published 4 months ago by Adam


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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and tense throughout, 14 Jun. 2007
When a friend advised me to read this, I thought, "Why would I want to read that? I have no interest in sailing." Thankfully, my friend insisted.

The narrative is beautifully weighted with the perfect amount of detail, both biographical and concenring the Fastnet Race itself. Not only did I learn a great deal about this tragic race, but I also started to really root for the author and genuinely felt his desparation as hopes were raised and dashed.

The descriptive passage of the gathering storm and the growing fears in the crew of the Grimalkin is one of the most tense and gripping passages I have read in some time, particularly the vivid imagery of the ever changing colours of the sky and the ominous threat of the Irish Sea.

I would, as my friend did, insist that you read this book and then insist that all of your friends do the same.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true story of adventure, tragedy and emotion, which nearly didn't get told, 25 Nov. 2007
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Firstly, I just don't read books - they rarely keep my attention after the first chapter, and my shelves are littered with bookmarks sticking out from uncompleted attempts! And I've never had an interest in sailing. But I heard about this book and became more and more interested in how an ordinary guy got involved in such a prestigious but ultimately tragic race, and I wanted to know more about his eventual rescue and the hints of betrayal. I coped with the scene setting of the early chapters; in fact they surprised me by being very readable indeed. But once the race was underway Nick's excitement really came bubbling through, only to turn to nervousness and then, as the weather deteriorated, fear. Eventually, alone on the yacht except for the body of his friend, his desperation turns to near madness; but the reader is there alongside him, willing him on, sharing his deepest thoughts and feeling his desolation. An absolutely compelling read which I completed from cover to cover in record time! An adventure, and a poignant story of trust, fortitude and endurance... and, although Nick takes care to put himself in the place of his crewmates and not to be accusative, yes, betrayal. For those who may be put off by their lack of interest or knowledge in sailing, don't be... OK, there is a certain amount of technical terminology but if I coped, anyone can, and there is a reference diagram in case the reader wishes to learn a little more. A selection of Nick's personal photos adds further interest to this highly recommended book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, 30 Jun. 2007
What a fabulous book!

From the start I was gripped, despite having no interest in sailing whatsoever. I found the development of the story - how much bad luck can a guy get - completely absorbing.

Beatufully told.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping. I felt cold and wind beaten reading it!, 11 July 2007
By 
Chris F (North West UK) - See all my reviews
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The first book in a long time that I simply couldn't put down.

The descriptions of wild seas are better than accurate - they actually take you there.

If you have been out to sea, it will take you right back there. It describes perfectly the way it can change in the course of minutes and how stomach clenchingly terrifying it can be.

Of course, Mr Ward has been in a situation that, thankfully, few of us have ever - or ever will be - in.

This, however, is more than simply a description of scary seas and "rough weather". It is about survival against the odds and a captivating hour by hour narrative of a harrowing story.

In summary, an excellent and gripping story with the most vivid descriptive passages I have read in many a year. Buy it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, 28 Dec. 2008
I read this in less than a day. I just couldn't put it down. It is an amazing survival story, from which Nick should not have survived. But the fact that it is a story that remained untold for 25 years shows the courage it must have taken to relive those days and write the book. The descriptions of the seas and the emotions make it seem incredibly real and allows you to follow the highs and lows of the events as they unfold. The paperback version includes more information and photos. I found the book quite chilling not only because of the power of the sea but the survival story itself. A story I won't forget easily.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly compelling, 12 Sept. 2008
By 
R. Gardham (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A book about yachting? No thanks. Well, that was my initial reaction. How wrong I was. I finished this book over a busy weekend. Totally unputdownable. Nick Ward brillantly recreates what should have been the final 48 hours of his life, and what, tragically, was the end of two of his crewmates' lives.

The book shouldn't work in many respects. About one-third of it is an endless procession of a deserted Ward being thrown off the boat, falling in and out of consciousness, and bailing water. While this doesn't sound compelling, the circumstances Ward is doing all this, and the odds against his survival, mean that before you know it you've been sat there reading for an hour when it seems like only five minutes have passed. Despite the fact that you know Ward survives, you're still half expecting him to meet his maker as the waves batter the Grimalkin. There is a real sense of relief when his rescue arrives, even though he's obviously lived to write this book.

My only criticism would be his attitude towards the rest of his crew. His constant insistance that he bears no grudges against them doesn't really ring true. He seems to veer between resenting the three crew members that left him on the yacht and trying his best to let everyone know that he feels no ill will towards them.

That is a minor gripe though, as the retelling of this amazing story is done justice by Ward and O'Brien. This book is highly recommended to, well, just about anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph of writing, 27 Oct. 2008
Walking on Water: A Voyage Around Britain and Through Life

Having had the pleasure of meeting Nick, actually reading this harrowing account, made the story all the more real. I was only 13 when the tragedy happened but, even at such an early age, and as a keen sailor myself, it was indelibly etched on my mind. So to actually read this terrifying, first-hand account, all these years later was gripping. Of all the horror of that fateful race, two good things came out of it; Firstly Nick survived, and secondly he had the courage to document what must have been the most traumatic event in his life. Totally inspiring and a real page turner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 13 Oct. 2008
By 
Poseidon (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book by chance and have since bought 2 more copies for friends. It is an absorbing, understated, well written account of the disaster striking a boat on the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race and for someone who would prefer to read non fiction I couldnt put it down.
Apparently, the paperback version was published later and includes additional concluding paragraphs not in the hardback.
Highly recommended. My wife who has no particular interest in sailing read the book in 2 days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book about a sailor's worst nightmare, 5 Nov. 2009
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It took me less than a day to read this book from the first to the last page. Once you start it, you won't want to put it down before the very last word. Nick Ward isn't the greatest writer, but his story is well told and perhaps the lack of perfection underlines the authenticity. First you learn how a few minor errors or too much trust in others can make you sail straight into a hurricane. This adventure happened to Nick Ward only a few dozen miles off England's coast. And then you learn a lot about fellow sailor's behavior under high stress. And how both together may lead, as in Ward's case, to the sailor's worst nightmare : to be abandoned unconscious and left for death on a leaking, uncontrollable, drifting ship, in the middle of a hurricane. The behavior of his fellow crew members is incomprehensible, to Ward and also for the readers. Obviously, Ward wrote the book to understand what happened, how fellow sailor's can be so shabbily selfish and inhuman. He certainly wanted to provoke reactions, and perhaps also settle an account. Happily he was rescued to tell his story. It teaches us a lot about the sea and about us, humans and sailors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiration, 9 April 2015
This book had such a fundamental effect on me that I went on to write my own book "Rescue Pilot" from the rescuer's perspective. It was a rare treat to meet Nick during the recording of the BBC's "The Reunion" on Radio 4 for broadcast on Sunday 12th April 1115. Well done Nick, it took a brave man to write that book and an even braver man to bare his soul on national radio in that way. You are an inspiration and I feel privileged to have shared the journey with you.
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