Mark Hassall built himself a trimaran (a three-hulled sailboat) and headed west from California with a new wife and his 11-year-old son. Three and a half years and 40,000 miles later they arrived in Guatemala.
Hassall is a bit of a renaissance man (dancer, jeweler, Shakespearian actor, teacher of handicapped children, boatwright) and there wasn’t much of a mission or a plan.
The book itself – on-the-spot tape recordings transcribed, then edited and commented on by the co-author – reflect the trip’s loose structure, and give the narrative a sense of cinema verite’ (or what might now be called Reality TV). The thread that binds it all is Hassall’s competence:
Well, we just crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Primarily. And we’re arriving at Fernando de Noronha, about 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. It’s quite a rugged looking island with pinnacles and it’s green. We’re coming around down by the west side and we’ll turn around and then come back in toward the southeast into the anchorage which we hope is on this far end. We don’t have a chart of it – just a little speck on the big chart. We’ll make it in just eight days – eight days flat for 1200 miles.
The captain and crew do not get bound up with logistics.
We were able to buy some mangos. They bake fresh bread here every day so we can get that. And we’re going to go hunting for food tomorrow. Got to stock up before leaving for Trinidad. See what happens.
The book is also filled with anecdotally illustrated advice on how to make your way, including tips on life in port, food, costs, pests, hurricanes, crew, navigation, and more.