This is a book that will be heartily enjoyed by any true sailor and will provide real thrills, along with useful information, for the few who yearn for adventure in small open boats. My copy arrived in the mail from Geoff at noon on Friday, and I couldn’t put it down until I had devoured every page, sometime near midnight the same day. I was particularly interested in his story, as I owned a sister to Geoff’s Drascombe Longboat back in the early ’70s and did a bit of open-boat cruising in it, but nothing like the voyage Geoff describes. I’m not that much of a masochist!
Geoff tells of his early life leading up to his purchase of Donna Elvira in England and then begins his often humorous story of the sail across to France, his adventures in the canals on the trip down to the Med, and his voyage along the coast of France and Spain to Gibraltar. He tells of the people he met, the places he saw and the things he did along the way, such as a summer archeological course, spelunking, and exploring antique ruins. Geoff even gives the names of a number of the people he ran across, in case you ever meet them in your travel…names like Dave, Tony, Michael, Scott, Bitsy, Christine, John, Baldy, Murf, Lyn, and many others. If you do encounter them,
Geoff would like to hear about it!
The book becomes serious when Geoff heads out to the Canaries on his first long ocean hop and tells about encounters with fog and freighters. And it becomes even more serious when he leaves the islands for his epic voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, battling storms, sharks, and boredom along the way.
Sail South Till the Butter Melts is simply a top-notch read: interesting, informative, humorous at times, and well written. I’ve read many good cruising books over the years but none that I’ve enjoyed more. Indeed, after writing this review, I think I’ll start it all over again.
Sail South Till the Butter Melts: Atlantic Adventures in an Open Boat by Geoff Stewart (The Continuity Company, 2004; 171 pages)