Reese Palley has written about things he knows — sailing, people, and art. His sailing books are: There Be No Dragons, Unlikely People, and Unlikely Passages. There Be No Dragons gives the wannabe ocean cruiser a rational approach to the dangers and the technical knowledge needed to voyage in a small boat safely. Unlikely People is a collection of very interesting and humorous personality sketches of people Reese has met in different ports of the world.

Unlikely Passages uses a travelogue approach in each chapter. Those introductory passages are not nearly as unlikely as the musing he gets into. Reese is crazy — like a fox. He makes statements that bruise your sensibilities and then comes to conclusions you can’t help but agree with. For instance: In Chapter 4 he says he is not a moralist and he doesn’t believe in God, but for the eleventh tribe (the sailing tribe) he says, “The Word of God is curiously difficult to improve upon . . . when even the agnostic sailor, faced with unacceptable odds, will seek His intercession.”

So in Unlikely Passages, Reese covers sailing from Angels to Zen. In between he throws in a dash of sex, vomit, and God. This is a book I had to put down on occasion – but I had to pick it up again. Reese has a galling way of coming to truths I usually agree with. He said all he really wanted to accomplish in writing this book was to elicit a little giggle, and he got mine.

Unlikely Passages had a short life when it was first published in 1984, since the publisher went out of business shortly thereafter. It was republished in 1998 in its original form.

Reese is currently working on a book about the Schooner, Fantome, which was lost in Hurricane Mitch. He sails Unlikely VII, a 46-foot cutter, out of Key West.

Unlikely Passages by Reese Palley (Sheridan House, 1999)