by John and Jean
(With Malcolm McConnell)
published by Harper Collins
(288pp; 235mm x 155mm)
Black Wave is a family’s record of the realisation of their fantasy. Who among us hasn’t sat down and mused about the life to be had cruising the oceans of the world. Would we cut it? Would we enjoy it? How would we react to danger and potential catastrophe?
Well, the Silverwood family set out in a rather nicely appointed catamaran of over 50 feet to test their dreams (or at least the dreams of the patriarch, John Silverwood). Black Wave (the title alone might suggest to you where this narrative is going) is written in two parts.
First, Jean Silverwood faithfully decides to follow her husband to help him achieve a long held ambition: to own his own boat and sail away to adventure. Jean starts her story at the end and in the first couple of chapters wrings out the reader’s nerves with her description of what befell them. The publicity blurb suggests that the book is impossible to put down once Jean is underway, but some may dispute that. I, for one, had to put it down several times to gather my wits and strength to press on. Jean tells of the plight of her husband John in graphic detail, leaving nothing out to spare the sensibilities of her audience.
That John co-wrote the book, at least allows the reader to press on in the knowledge that things will work out in the end (at least in some fashion or other). Jean moves from the disaster her family is dealing with at the end of their voyage to relate how the Silverwoods got to be in that position. She drifts in and out of the present almost as if her mind is seeking some relief from her horror.
And so we learn about their decision taking in moving from a comfortable Californian lifestyle to collect a boat in New York and sail off to the Caribbean. In various flashbacks, the Silverwoods are found to be quite suited to sailing and take to the life with not much more than a few grumbles from the kids. But Jean finally runs out of reasons to escape to the past when the dilemma of the present imposes itself in shocking fashion. Their shipwreck, rescue and return to the US are as miraculous as they are a relief, not only to her family but also her readers. The second part of the book is John’s. It is not his recollections of what his wife has already dealt with, although he allows himself to dwell briefly on what befell him. Rather, John Silverwood finds the eerie parallel of a 19th century passenger sailing ship which had the ill fortune to run aground on the same reef in the Pacific where the Silverwoods’ illfated voyage ended 150 years later.
John’s research into the wreck of the Julia Ann out of Sydney headed for San Francisco reveal a captain plagued by the same concerns for his crew as beset John himself.
All in all Black Wave reveals how each of the Silverwoods found in themselves strength to survive.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Oceans —
Crewing around the Oceans
by Alison Muir Bennett published by Adlard Coles RRP $32.95
(124pp; 215mm x 140mm)
Now in its 6th edition, Hitchhiker’s Guide must have something useful in it, although there seemed a fair bit of the bleeding obvious advised. Don’t assume it will all be relevant if you are looking for this sort of help. Have a good look through to the back half to ensure it is for you.