In a world where the cruising boats seem to be getting larger, We Who Pass Like Foam by Ben Zartman is a welcome and refreshing insight into small boat cruising on a tight budget. With a minimal outpouring of cash, Ben and his wife, Danielle, use creativity and ingenuity to solve the myriad problems that beset them. Their combined endurance during difficult, uncomfortable passages strengthens their resolve to continue their adventure. When other cruisers tell them, “You’ll never be able to do that!” it increases their determination to succeed.
Leaving Fort Myers, Florida, on their unfinished boat, Capella, Ben and Danielle strike out across the Gulf of Mexico for Isla Mujeres. Armed with youth, energy, and a strong sense of self-reliance, they unflinchingly survive their first offshore passage without waterproof clothing, self-steering, or a dry warm cabin. During the crossing they deal with a broken swing keel and an alarming leak that fills their bilge and soaks their bed and cushions. They arrive exhausted, cold, and wet but exhilarated with their success.
During their ensuing adventure Ben and Danielle experience the joys and difficulties of life afloat. The theft of their dinghy, accompanied by a village of deceitful locals, illustrates the darkness of human treachery. On the next island a local family adopts them and that family’s unselfish giving restores their faith in the abundance of human kindness.
Ben and Danielle employ traditional nautical methods not only to save money, but also for aesthetic reasons. Ben skillfully uses a lead line, calling soundings to Danielle at the helm. They have kerosene running lights, using old theater gels to color them for port and starboard. Throughout the book Ben struggles with his ideal of using only celestial navigation to pilot Capella. However, he balances his ideals with the safety of the boat by using GPS to occasionally check his accuracy.
We Who Pass Like Foam is a story of youthful courage, determination, and joie de vivre, with a surprise at the end.