Top positive review
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Lone sailing with a differnce. A mystic ocean communion.
on 15 January 2004
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.