A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean
  • A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean
  • A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

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by Tori Murden McClure
     
 

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“If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won’t stop till you’ve finished.”
  —Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife 

 

A Pearl in the Storm is

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Overview

“If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won’t stop till you’ve finished.”
  —Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife 

 

A Pearl in the Storm is the true story of Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. McClure’s memoir, subtitled, “How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean,” is more than a woman-against-the-elements adventure tale; it is, in the words of actress Candice Bergen, “a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women and men of all ages.” Beautiful, breathtaking, moving, and inspiring, A Pearl in the Storm will appeal to the millions of readers who made Eat, Pray, Love a resounding success.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
One woman's rebellion against powerlessness places her in perhaps the most powerless situation of all-crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone in a 23-foot rowboat. McClure's unique debut memoir unravels, true to its setting, in a series of currents and waves. At various speeds and intensities, she reveals her life-or-death battle against the ocean, her inner demons and the motives behind her journey. Growing up a self-proclaimed misfit, she was haunted by guilt over being unable to protect her developmentally handicapped brother from the world's cruelty. Her attempts to do so produced a strong, solitary, athletic young woman, but her inability to completely shield him solidified her feeling of impotence. That feeling remained with her throughout her life, even as she worked to help the homeless, the disabled and the terminally ill. She cared fiercely about humanity but was emotionally isolated and blamed herself for failing to save the world. Driven to overcome this self-perceived weakness, 35-year-old McClure departed from the coast of North Carolina in 1998, planning to row the 3,600 miles to France. Isolated at sea for 91 days, battling three hurricanes and a loss of all communication while cherishing the beauty and bliss of the sea, she fluctuated between accepting and challenging nature. A stirring metaphor for life's unpredictable ups and downs, McClure's real-life journey was both propelled and hindered by the ever-transitory ocean currents. When the North Atlantic's worst recorded hurricane season forced her to request rescue at sea, she felt like a failure. Returning home depressed and unable to merge her now-divided self, she stumbled for the first time upon love-and a new plan toconquer the sea. On that voyage, yet another hurricane brought her crashing to her knees, but this time she learned to embrace her demons and forgive herself. Nearly ten years after the conclusion of her groundbreaking journey, McClure offers her reflections in contemplative, honest language, revealing her meaningful road to self-discovery. An inspirational story of losing pride, embracing humanity and accepting love.
Candice Bergen
“Tori Murden McClure is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met; her journey across the ocean is equal only to her journey of the heart. This is a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women—and men of all ages.”
Sena Jeter Naslund
“Unlike Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Tori Murden McClure’s true story of a woman and the sea and a boat named American Pearl is one of victory. If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won’t stop till you’ve finished.”
Roy Hoffman
“For those six billion or so of us on planet Earth today who will never row across an ocean, this extraordinary narrative by one fellow human who did so transports us to places beautiful, haunting, daunting, terrifying, and uplifting.”
Charles Gaines
“In this fine book, Tori McClure generously gives us at the same time a wonderfully told adventure story and a moving account of a storm-wracked journey through self-discovery into healing. . . .”
Jill Ker Conway
“The reader of this book encounters a rare spirit whose courage is an inspiration.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061718861
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/07/2009
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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A Pearl in the Storm

Chapter One

The Quest Begins

June 14, 1998
latitude north 35:52, longitude west 75:34
the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic

to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn't aware that it was missing. In January 1998, I asked my uncle, "If I write a book about my explorations, should I write it as a comedy, a history, a tragedy, or a romance?" With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "A romance—it must be a romance." He explained that I was too young to write my life as a history: "Who wants to read the history of half a life?" Tragedy, he explained, was "boring." Anyone over the age of thirty can write his or her life as a tear-soaked muddle. "There is no challenge in that," my uncle counseled. "Comedies are fine, but the greatest stories in life are about romance."

I didn't doubt that my uncle spoke the truth, but there was a problem. I had no experience with romance. None. I was thirty-five. Tragedy, I could write. Comedy, I could write. Even history, I could write. Romance was out of my depth. If I had charted a map of my life, I would have placed romance on the far side of an unexplored ocean, where ships would drop off the edge of the world and the legend at that edge of the map would read, "Here there be sea monsters."

I considered myself a thoroughly modern woman. As a graduate of Smith College, I embraced the notion that our culture had evolved to the point where a woman might openly take on the role of an Odysseus. Like the epic hero in Homer's Odyssey, women could be clever. We could set out on epic quests of our own choosing. Likemen, we could be independent and internally motivated. Women could be tested and not found wanting in trials of courage, resourcefulness, endurance, strength, and even solitude. What I did not know was that exploring these vaguely masculine qualities would not be enough for me. I am, after all, a woman. It was not until my boat dropped off the edge of the world, into the realm of sea monsters, that I began to understand some of what I had been missing.

Let's face it: normal, well-adjusted women don't row alone across oceans. According to the records of the Ocean Rowing Society, in London, England, no woman had ever rowed solo across an ocean, but I didn't let this worry me. About midday on Sunday, June 14, 1998, I drove my old gray pickup truck towing a rowboat to the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, a few miles south of the sleepy beach town of Nags Head, North Carolina.

I'd already made the obligatory stop at the Coast Guard station. The officer in charge had done his best to talk me out of making the trip. More men had walked on the moon than had successfully rowed alone across the North Atlantic. Nonetheless, I stood squarely behind a very simple legal precedent: men had been allowed to leave the coast of the United States in rowboats bound for Europe. They couldn't very well stop me just because I was a woman. Once my boat passed the Coast Guard inspection, I was free to go.

I backed my twenty-three-foot rowboat down a ramp and launched the American Pearl. The boat was six feet wide at its widest point. The tallest part of the rear cabin sat four feet above the waterline. In the center of the vessel was a rowing deck about the size of the cargo bed in my Ford F-150. The rowing deck was open to the sky, but there was a watertight cabin at the back of the boat. I would enter the cabin through a waterproof Plexiglas hatchway that was nineteen inches square. This window-sized door between the cabin and the rowing deck was the main hatch.

To call the stern compartment a "cabin" exaggerates the space. The watertight sleeping area was slightly larger than a double-wide coffin. I couldn't sit erect without hitting my head on the ceiling, but I could lie down with a few inches to spare. In the floor that served as my bed there were eight small hatches. These opened into little storage compartments that contained my electrical equipment, tools, clothing, and other gear. Between the cabin and the rowing deck was a cockpit that was two feet wide and sixteen inches deep. This little footwell would serve as a kitchen, bathroom, navigational center, and weather station. There were two small benches on either side of the cockpit. One bench housed the desalination system that would turn salt water into drinking water. In the other, I stored my stove and cooking gear when they were not in use. Like my rowing station, the cockpit was uncovered and open to the weather.

I knew every inch of the boat, which I'd built with the help of friends in the bay of an old warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. We'd conjured the vessel out of twenty-three sheets of marine plywood following a British design by Philip Morrison. The rowing deck was twelve inches above the surface of the water, and the tops of the gunwales, or sides of the boat, were two and a half feet above the waterline. If the boat hadn't been small enough to ride up and down on ocean swells like a cork, any wave bigger than two and a half feet would have washed over the sides. Water that washed in over the gunwales ran out through four scuppers, or drain holes, at the level of the rowing deck.

The boat was designed like an old egg crate. Nine mahogany ribs ran from side to side. Eight of the ribs were divided by bow-to-stern stringers, one on each side of the centerline. These ribs and stringers separated the inner hull into a checkerboard of watertight compartments. We glued the sections with epoxy, reinforced the seams with fiberglass, and filled the voids with urethane foam. On the salary of a city employee, I couldn't afford to build a lighter, sleeker craft out of carbon fiber or Kevlar.

A Pearl in the Storm. Copyright (c) by Tori McClure . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Sena Jeter Naslund
“Unlike Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Tori Murden McClure’s true story of a woman and the sea and a boat named American Pearl is one of victory. If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won’t stop till you’ve finished.”
Roy Hoffman
“For those six billion or so of us on planet Earth today who will never row across an ocean, this extraordinary narrative by one fellow human who did so transports us to places beautiful, haunting, daunting, terrifying, and uplifting.”
Jill Ker Conway
“The reader of this book encounters a rare spirit whose courage is an inspiration.”
Candice Bergen
“Tori Murden McClure is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met; her journey across the ocean is equal only to her journey of the heart. This is a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women—and men of all ages.”
Charles Gaines
“In this fine book, Tori McClure generously gives us at the same time a wonderfully told adventure story and a moving account of a storm-wracked journey through self-discovery into healing. . . .”

Read More

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