Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Across Islands and Oceans by James Baldwin

I sail, love boats, and read a lot of books about voyaging on the water. If the books also deal with Asia, it's a bonus.

It's actually a while since I read the whole of James Baldwin's book, but did re-read some passages again recently. What follows is based on less-than-perfect recollection. Across Islands and Oceans is James Baldwin's autobiographical story of a 1980s solo circumnavigation in his 28 foot sailing sloop, Atom.

Leaving Florida, Baldwin sails through the Caribbean and the Panama canal into the Pacific ocean. Visiting Pacific islands along the way he makes his way to Indonesia, then to the Indian Ocean, around the tip of Africa, and back home to the US, two years later.

Along the way he walks across every island he visits. It's his descriptions of the island communities that make this book so appealing. Baldwin has some strong opinions, but writes in pleasant and honest manner, also about things that disturb him. He describes some epic treks. The most interesting part of the book for me was his trek in Indonesia where he almost succumbs to malaria. Baldwin's descriptions of the small mountain communities where old clan feuds still may lead to bloodshed are vivid. There's a girl he falls in love with in Mauritius.

Apparently the books passages were originally published on his website. Considering this, the book forms a remarkably coherent, self contained entity that is easy to follow and to read through.

Oh, after returning to the US, it didn't take Baldwin long before he embarked on a second epic sailing adventure, this time with a goal to visit China by boat. But that's another book (that I'm currently reading) and another blog-post.

If you want to have more information, visit the author's web page: http://atomvoyages.com/!

Read on Kindle.

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