Small Boat To Freedom: A Journey of Conscience to a New Life in America

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Overview

Small Boat to Freedom is the moving and inspiring story of one man's decision to leave the country he loved because of a political situation he abhorred. John Vigor had it all, a loving family, a secure and well-deserved reputation as a syndicated South African newspaper columnist, and a lovely home in one of South Africa's most beautiful cities, Durban. But an apartheid-regime clampdown on freedom of expression forced Vigor to make the wrenching decision to abandon his idyllic life - and financial security - and...
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Overview

Small Boat to Freedom is the moving and inspiring story of one man's decision to leave the country he loved because of a political situation he abhorred. John Vigor had it all, a loving family, a secure and well-deserved reputation as a syndicated South African newspaper columnist, and a lovely home in one of South Africa's most beautiful cities, Durban. But an apartheid-regime clampdown on freedom of expression forced Vigor to make the wrenching decision to abandon his idyllic life - and financial security - and leave South Africa on a thirty-one-foot sloop with his wife and seventeen-year-old son for a precarious voyage to a new but uncertain life in America.
At age fifty, Vigor had been a popular news-paper columnist for eighteen years, and a journalist for thirty years, working for anti-apartheid newspapers, raising a family of three sons with his wife, June, also a journalist. But in 1987 the South African government and its once untouchable apartheid policy was crumbling. In an attempt to clamp down on dissident opinion, the government began restricting writers. The Vigors knew it was time to leave, but to do so meant losing most of their savings, the scant remainder of which they used to purchase a boat for the dangerous voyage from Durban, past the treacherous Cape of Storms, around the Cape of Good Hope, and across the South Atlantic to Florida.
Small Boat to Freedom is an emotional and colorful account of two journeys - one of conscience, the other of courage - each inspired by the author's strength and that of his family.
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Editorial Reviews

Sail Magazine
A well-written and thoroughly enjoyable book, Small Boat to Freedom is no mere sailing story. The interweaving of South African politics, the history of the places visited, and the emotions of their departure add much depth to this tale.
Ocean Navigator
Small Boat to Freedom is a heartfelt chronicle of escape and rebirth and will appeal to anyone who has ever been inspired to chuck it all and slip away on a high-seas adventure. An absorbing chronicle of how the Vigor family tests its resolve and skills in (a) serious ocean cruise to escape from their homeland, all the while remaining painfully aware of the not-insignificant fact that they have no jobs waiting (for) them when they reach their destination in America.
Publishers Weekly
Talk about dramatic exits. British writer Vigor and his family didn't leave South Africa for America just by buying plane tickets, but by boarding a 31-foot sloop and sailing across the Atlantic. This is the account of that improbable journey, and it's a compelling read, if rather belated. It was 1987, the old regime was crumbling, violence was rampant, and Vigor figured his family had lived through enough. It's that background of a dysfunctional nation, and the people trapped within it, that gives the book its unique texture. Separate currents racial politics, personal reminiscences and mano-a-mano combat with the sea come together to feed Vigor's narrative. As a longtime newspaper columnist, the author possesses an easy feel for language that hasn't deserted him. But the timing is somewhat odd, a fresh tale of a trip made 17 years ago. In the epilogue, Vigor attributes this to 9/11 and its aftermath; he had fled a regime which took away so many people's rights, and now he sees those same rights threatened again in his new country. An admirable statement perhaps, but it feels tacked on, after the rolling consistency of previous chapters. Still, the work's simple honesty is beguiling. Vigor seems to have absorbed the rhythms of the sea in his pacing: mostly gentle, occasionally bracing and leaving readers exhilarated for the experience. Agent, Julie Fallowfield. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574093032
  • Publisher: Sheridan House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/7/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 954,990
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Vigor was born in Plymouth, England, a stone's throw away from the Mayflower Steps. He lived in England until he was thirteen, when his family emigrated to South Africa. A longtime newspaperman and a former South African sailing champion, he began a new life in America in 1987. He now lives in Washington State, where he sails on Puget Sound and writes.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1 Fleeing Apartheid 1
2 Adventure by Default 23
3 Past the Wild Coast 37
4 Weatherbound in Port Elizabeth 53
5 Port Elizabeth to Mossel Bay 67
6 Mossel Bay to Cape Town 83
7 Joy and Tears in Cape Town 99
8 Cape Town to St. Helena 117
9 St. Helena Island 133
10 St. Helena to Fernando de Noronha 149
11 A Tropical Jewel 167
12 Fernando de Noronha to Bequia 183
13 The West Indies 201
14 St. Maarten to the Bahamas 215
15 The Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale 231
16 Epilogue 245
Appendix Freelance in Closeup 255
Bibliography 259
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2004

    An outstanding read

    An extraordinary tour de force. This is a memoir cum travel-adventure story of unexpected depth and intriguing texture. Several critics have already forecast it will become a classic, and I agree. It's the work of a man who has been a professional writer all his working life and it shows. It throbs with simple honesty. The author admits he shanghaied his wife and teenage son to crew for him on the tiny 30-foot sailboat in which they fled from restrictive apartheid regime of South Africa to the freedom of America. There are moments of terror here, times of bliss, keen insights into nature, and episodes of pure humor, all presented in a refreshingly humble fashion. Small Boat to Freedom has been introduced to the American market with surprisingly little fanfare but it will surely earn the recognition it deserves as an important contribution to the genre. Read it. See if you don't agree.

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