Monday, March 08, 2004

I just finished reading Derek Lundy's Godforsaken Sea. It was very enjoyable. Imagine 'Into Thin Air' by Jon Krakauer, but this time without the amateurs, and everybody's sailing boats instead of climbing moutains. The book is about the Vendee Globe race, which begins and ends at the same port in France. Sailors sail south to Antarctica, race around it, and back to France. It takes about 110-150 days, depending on how often boats break down, flip over, or even sink. Other factors include lack of sleep, frostbite, crashing into icebergs, fishing boats, pleasure ships and cargo ships, and launching rescues for other sailors in the ocean. If it sounds tough, it's worse than that. The seas of the Southern Ocean are the worst in the world: 50-foot waves, subzero temperatures and winds that routinely push 100 kilometers an hour.

Without spoiling the ending too much, one sailor dies, another loses a finger, several boats are lost, another operates on his own infected elbow, several heroic rescue attempts succeed and fail, and remember, this isn't just a challenge to yourself, it's an actual race, with only one winner.