Australian Jill Knight has written a number of articles for Good Old Boat and others about her sailing adventures and sailboat maintenance while cruising aboard Cooee, a 37-foot wooden cutter . . . a boat now more than 100 years old . . . on which she circumnavigated . . . alone. As they say of the female in a dancing team, she did everything a male dancer does, except that she did it backward and in high heels.

Those of us already in awe of what Jill has accomplished are not surprised, therefore, that she next sat down and wrote a rather powerful first novel. Called Navigating the Edge, her book is set in the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town, South Africa, to the coast of Brazil.

Her background as a corporate psychologist makes it possible for Jill to develop a cast of characters, primarily sailors, who are reacting to a range of traumatic life experiences as they interact. As could be expected, some grow healthier while others grow distinctly crazier drawing others and their sailboats into harm’s way as they do.

Armchair sailors reading this book are soon drawn in and navigating the edge of their seats as several life-and-death struggles occur in mid-ocean.

Without giving away the plot, I’ll say that Jill’s sailing scenes are descriptive and accurate, her characters well developed and interesting, and her plot line is fantastic and frightening. This one could make a good gift for a friend. The recipient need not be a sailor to enjoy it. It wouldn’t be cheating (would it?) to read it yourself before you wrap it up.

Navigating the Edge By Jill Knight (Harper Collins, 2002; 309 pages)