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Eight Men And A Duck: An Improbable Voyage by Reed Boat to Easter Island Paperback – 1 May 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114545
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,067,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Thorpe's imagery is exquisite (and) the account of Viracocha's voyage is so funny... If you enjoy chuckling during your armchair travels, my advice is: Rush and Reed (Tim Severin)

Thorpe is an accomplished storyteller. He chronicles the voyage of the Viracocha with an easy, unforced humour... Thoroughly entertaining (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Thorpe may be a poor sailor but he is an accomplished storyteller... he chronicles the voyage of Viracocha with an easy, unforced humour. It's hardly surprising that it's an inspiring story. (TELEGRAPH)

An exciting, involving read. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

A beautifully written, funny and touching account of an unlikely journey from the coast of Chile to Easter Island

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It’s an old adage that it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. This much is a cliché, but this much is true, and Nick Thorpe’s fabulous, vastly entertaining and thoughtful book ‘Eight Men and a Duck’ is all the proof you need. Thorpe is an English journalist, who while on one of those too good to be true writing gigs when a newspaper paid him to bum around South America happened upon a tall tale about a reed boat about to leave Chile for Easter Island.
So the journalist’s mind kicked in – let’s investigate. Soon, without planning it, Thorpe found himself becoming more than just an observer, as a place on this incredible journey fell into his lap. Some discussion with his wife (you know, ‘I love you, I might never see you again, is that ok?’) later, and the – let’s say ‘unswarthy’ Englishman (look at the photos in the book) was off to sea with a rogue’s gallery of shipmates straight out of Captain Pugwash. The book takes us on the journey with them, in the race against time they created for themselves by building a boat out of reeds that will eventually sink. It’s a journey that involves the Chilean Navy, good and bad weather, esoteric Frenchmen, weird food, and the very nature of friendship itself.
This is not just a book about the technicalities of ancient sea-travel (though there’s enough of that to interest even the most hardy of land-locked readers), or the existential joys and angst of a dangerous and beautiful journey, but a tremendously rich sketch of what men are like when they get together. If you’ve ever wanted to take a risk, but feel seasick at the thought, then you may just love this book.
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Format: Paperback
A group of inexperienced sailors somehow manages to recreate a mythical 1200-mile voyage from Chile to Easter Island on a boat made from reeds which is gradually losing buoyancy and sinking into the ocean. This is clearly a dangerous thing to do, and the author uses a self-deprecating wit throughout this account, perhaps to deflect the attention away from the sheer terror of what might have happened had things gone wrong. In fact, it is the sharply observed humour that turns this account of another wacky expedition into a book that even this casually interested reader found hard to put down.
The absurdity of the situation becomes apparent when the author discovers that a week's casual dinghying off the coast of Scotland and the fact that he at one stage 'spent two terms rowing in a reserve college squad so inept that the boat was known as eeyore' makes him the most experienced sailor on this hazardous voyage. Thorpe, a journalist from the UK, joins the Viracocha ten days before its projected launch date and is immediately rewarded with the task of conjuring up the sails (difficult, as he barely knew how to darn a sock).
At first glance, it is hard to conceive exactly how this disparate bunch of amateur sailors expected to pull off a feat that even the great Heyerdahl didn't manage himself, without succumbing to such dangers as sharks, oil tankers and the worry of simply being left stranded in the ocean if one of the crew fell off the boat (turning circle: about 10 miles, apparently), not to mention the ill-will of a rival expeditioner. But the quality of the crew as human beings and their sheer single-mindedness to climb apparently insurmountable hurdles is what drives them on towards success.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who regularly spends time on sailing boats, I was immediately interested in the idea of sailing over two thousand miles on a mattress of reeds. However, for the book to be enjoyable it had to be well written, which fortunately this one is. The author stumbled across the project whilst travelling in the Americas (from the bottom up) and simultaneously writing for a newspaper, and managed to blag his way onto the crew. It transpired that he was one of the most experienced sailors out of the eight men on board - not a difficult achievement it transpires as the tale unfolds. The preparation for the voyage was woeful. The fact that the crew nearly all survived was pure luck. But Nick Thorpe relates the story with great aplomb - it is both engaging and entertaining. Highly recommended for both those interested in the sea and those just looking for a good read. Students of human psychology will also enjoy this book as much of it is about the relationships between the crew.
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Format: Paperback
Purchased this having heard Nick Thorpe speaking on radio 4 about his experiences and was intrigued to know more. Researched and found the book and am still enjoying the read. The sense of adventure versus human insecurities makes this appealing. You can imagine yourself in similar situatuions and sympathise. I feel I am there on the boat too! Read the blurb- it sums it up well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have found this book informative, interesting and incredible. Nick writes in a relaxed and intimate way which almost makes one feel as if he is speaking directly to the reader. His descriptions, with the aid of some intuitive similes, engage the reader even more. An enjoyable read.
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