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Book review- A Thousand Miles from Anywhere, Sandra Clayton

by Doug Cuming, Boat Books on 12 May 2013
I never envisaged I would be crossing the Atlantic on a 40 foot boat. Yet here I am. .. .
A Thousand Miles from Anywhere is a narration by Sandra Clayton of the third part of their sailing adventures, covering their journey across the Atlantic on a forty foot catamaran. Inspiringly for anyone else contemplating blue water cruising in middle age, she and her husband David sail two handed from Madeira to Florida, stopping at the Canaries, Cape Verde Island, then through the Caribbean.

The two previous books, Dolphins Under My Bed and Turtles in Our Wake, covered their journey from the UK down the Atlantic coast and then around the Mediterranean.

Most cruising stories can end up being no more than a diary of the writer’s travels, and the start of the book seems to follow this trend: 'we went here and anchored there and met so and so', but gradually you start getting into Clayton’s sarcastic British style, especially when she describes the antics of the French sailors and behaviour of some Americans that they meet in the Canary Islands.

The 2,225 nautical mile three-week trip across the Atlantic offers a more introspective view as the monotony of the watch routine takes over and she has time to think. As they head south west they encounter tropical squalls that bring short periods of strong winds followed by long calms, making for frustrating and exhausting sailing. The trip takes longer than expected and they spend an unscheduled Christmas and New Year on the high seas.

Their arrival to Antigua in the Caribbean heralds a new section of the book as they visit the islands, deal with the locals and enjoy what is one of the best cruising destinations in the world.

By now you are onboard with them, finding anchorages, sharing mealtimes, fixing broken gear and dealing with difficult officials. They are enchanted with the old world charm of Antigua, Nevis & St Kitts, but less enthusiastic about the crowds in St Martin and the Virgin Islands, both ashore and at the anchorage.

If you are planning to sail east-west across the Atlantic or the Caribbean, then you should read this book as it would provide useful information about the places they visit, and whether you should go there or avoid them.

Certainly if other people find places enchanting and memorable then it’s probably worthwhile your going there too. Likewise if they describe the horrors of finding a suitable anchorage or berth, the difficulties of clearing customs and the lack of things to see, then you might bypass this location for a better one.

A Thousand Miles from Anywhere is a paperback with 175 pages is available wherever Adlard Coles Nautica books are sold, or buy it online by https://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=511&book=9781408187685!clicking_here.

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