Greg Smith set out in his sailboat to see the world. Those who choose to go along as readers of his book, The Solitude of the Open Sea, gain a fresh perspective of circumnavigating through the eyes of this realist.

Sailing around the world is not about anchoring in one tropical paradise after another. It is not a series of pristine dive sites with exotic fishes. Traveling by sailboat is more frequently about visiting the waterfront communities of countless third-world countries, about customs and public transportation, and about provisioning and boat maintenance. In this book, Greg offers honest observations of the people, the surroundings, and the activities of daily life for a sailor and those he encounters ashore.

He ponders about these cultural exchanges, wonders about how to really get to know the locals in various countries, and despairs on occasion over the language barriers and economic disparities which make mutual understanding almost futile.

Here is a sailor who does not descend upon a community as part of a merry band of cruisers. Instead he arrives thoughtfully and respectfully, making a serious attempt to understand the culture and lifestyle he finds.

In making his observations, Greg shares his philosophy of life and innermost feelings with his readers. It is as if we happened by his boat and asked, “So how was your voyage?” then sat down with him in the cockpit to listen to the answer. He makes no effort to impress fellow sailors. Greg is comfortable with who he is and what he has accomplished. He has learned much along the way; his passages have been both physical and psychological.

Even before completing the manuscript, I had already begun recommending this book to others. Greg went to sea with his eyes wide open. He left the rose-colored glasses at home and brought back a clear view of the world that opened to one who came, not as a tourist, but as a world traveler. He is just the sort of sailor with whom to see — really see — the world . . . the kind of sailor most of us would like to accompany on a circumnavigation. Because Greg took the time to write the book, here’s your chance to sign on as “armchair crew.” Hop aboard and enjoy the journey.

The Solitude of the Open Sea by Greg Smith (Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 264 pages)