I recently caught myself swinging the cat-o’-nine-tails. Hard and fast I brought it down on my own back — virtually, of course — punishing myself for doing stuff that was fun when I should have applied myself to serious matters, such as weeding the yard or contributing to the bottom line. The culprit was David Barrie’s new book Sextant, which is subtitled A Young Man’s Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World’s Oceans (HarperCollins).
Ah, the blessings of San Francisco Bay: sunshine, sparkling water, brisk breezes, a multihull and a wing. In remembering the last America’s Cup, these could be the trimmings for a heart-thumping ride on foils at 40 knots. But this is a different show. No speeding. No grinding. No foiling. No body armor, crash helmets or cameras. And no profligate billionaires. This is not about speed.
“You show this to anybody, and I’ll kill you,” says Jon Lyons, absently, as he bears down on one very busy page of my notebook with a green Sharpie.
It was a sad day on the Cowes waterfront in January 1912 when an empty dinghy without oars was brought in from the Medina River. Sailors, tradesmen and ordinary citizens talked in hushed voices about what might have happened. Few entertained hope that the rower was alive, but without a corpse, speculation ran rampant. Was it an accident? Suicide? Foul play?
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