A Speck on the Sea: Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels

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Overview

"From canoes and small sailboats to jury-rigged vessels of every description, and even a pair of strap-to-your-feet pontoons, the watercraft in these true stories make nearly as motley a collection as the mariners who piloted them. Meet the five escaped slaves who crossed the Mediterranean in a homemade folding rowboat; the lifeguard who paddled thirty miles through a killer storm in an inflatable rubber suit; and the mysterious two-man crew who crossed the Atlantic, east to west, in a converted lifeboat, bailing all the while." Whether driven by ...
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Overview

"From canoes and small sailboats to jury-rigged vessels of every description, and even a pair of strap-to-your-feet pontoons, the watercraft in these true stories make nearly as motley a collection as the mariners who piloted them. Meet the five escaped slaves who crossed the Mediterranean in a homemade folding rowboat; the lifeguard who paddled thirty miles through a killer storm in an inflatable rubber suit; and the mysterious two-man crew who crossed the Atlantic, east to west, in a converted lifeboat, bailing all the while." Whether driven by desperation, a spirit of adventure, or a desire for fame and fortune, all the risktakers whose stories are told here displayed uncommon courage, superior nautical skills, and remarkable poise under extreme and perilous conditions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071413060
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William H. Longyard (Winston-Salem, NC) has paddled, rowed, and sailed small boats for 25 years. A high school English teacher, he has published several books and written articles for boating journals.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Would Anyone Cross an Ocean in a Small Boat? 1
1 The Fogbound Past: 63 AD - 16th Century 7
2 Two Desperate Escapes: the 17th and 18th Centuries 21
3 Victorian Venturers: 1865-1876 42
4 The Paths of Glory: 1876-1900 67
5 A World to Conquer: 1900-1920 122
6 Lovers and Other Losers: 1920-1930s 146
7 Big Feat, Little Notice: the 1940s 173
8 Goofy and Gallant: the 1950s 193
9 Doing Your Own Thing: the 1960s 228
10 The Pursuit of Happiness: the 1970s 264
11 The Golden Decade: the 1980s 279
12 Records and Redux: the 1990s 306
13 New Faces and Old: the New Millennium 324
Conclusion: To Sea, or Not to Sea: That is the Question 330
App Rowers and Other Strangers 334
App Other Notable Voyages 334
Notes 343
Bibliography 353
Acknowledgments 361
Art Sources 364
Index 366
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2005

    Improbable Voyages, Enthralling Adventures

    By Bill Marsano. William Longyard has assembled a truly delightful collection of nearly six dozen stories of voyages in really deep water by people in ridiculously small--and sometimes just plain ridiculous--boats. Buy it pronto, put it on your nightstand; promise yourself you won't read more than one story per night. OK? (Of course you can always start over.) There is, apparently, no profile that fits these people. Some are desperate, such as the Englishmen held as slavery in Algeria: They made a daring escape in a folding boat they built themselves. (In 1644!) Some are godful folk determined to spread the Holy Word. Some seek fame and others seek love; a few hope to make great heaps of money as profitable novelties. Others have had their adventure gene cross wires with their crackpot gene (an alarming number of them begin with absolutely nautical experience whatsoever). Doesn't matter: Their stories are wonderful and hair-raising. Their craft are various. There's a Jeep and a succession of boats designed to take the record for Atlantic crossing by the world's smallest boat. There are kayaks, canoes, undecked sloops, a mold plug and a pair of water-walking pontoons. There are rowboats, of course, and my only (and very minor) complaint is that Longyard doesn't include the best sardonic nautical quotation I've ever run into: When a couple of British ex-soldiers finally completed their transoceanic row, a reporter asked how they felt at having 'beaten the Atlantic Ocean.' To which one of them replied, 'We didn't beat the Atlantic. It let us go.' Longyard makes up for this with his chapter on Capt. Franz Romer, who kleppered the Atlantic in the 1920s--first man to do it. All these years we've been allowed to believe he took a stock Klepper off the rack, but that is apparently far from the truth. Every reader will have his own favorite amongst these stories; mine is that of Paul Strogis. A Latvian on the run from the Russian army (which wanted to draft him) and the German police (who feared he was a dangerous socialist, or worse), he traveled widely, working his passage, and fetched up in Australia, there to slowly starve as he pined for love until it struck him that he must emigtrate to the U.S., 9000 miles away, in a boat of his own devising. So he set about to learn everything he needed to know to build, sail and navigate a boat from books in the public library. He built his own sextant from scrap hacksaw blades. And then God bless him he set off. There are lots of black-and-white pix here; they're nice and grainy--just vague enough to inspire more madcap dreaming.--Bill Marsano's adventures in his Feathercraft folding kayak have been pretty bloody demure but still sufficient to scare him silly.

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