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A star to sail her by

Young sailor recounts 25,000-mile journey

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Growing up can be challenging, especially on a boat with your family while cruising for five years.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Ellison can directly attest to the challenges, and he shares his experiences in a new memoir, “A Star to Sail Her By: A Five-Year Odyssey of Coming of Age at Sea,” (2011, 248 pages, paperback $19.95).

From age 8 to almost 14, Ellison spent life aboard a 47-foot sloop with his physician parents and autistic sister, sailing to the Caribbean island of Nevis and later cruising in the Pacific. During the adventure, the family faced challenges that included a nearly deadly bout of tropical encephalitis, treacherous navigation and storms at sea. Ellison describes feasting with hosts on remote atolls and dancing with island girls. He writes that he learned what it means to conserve, to be brave and to value the gift of life.
Culled from Ellison’s daily journal, the book illustrates how he made the transition from enthusiastic child to competent sailor to reflective young adult with a unique world view.

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.