Three ways to capsize a boat: an optimist afloat

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Stewart, Chris
Three ways to capsize a boat: an optimist afloat 
Chris Stewart is one of the funniest travel writers you’ve never heard of.
He was the original drummer for the band Genesis (he played on their
first album); he’s also been a sheep shearer and circus performer.  He
jumped at the opportunity to skipper a small sailboat, even though he’d
never been sailing before.  We start our adventure on a 21-foot craft,
which Chris is learning to sail in Littlehampton, England, with the help
of an acquaintance.  It is not an auspicious beginning.  Then he’s off to
Greece, to deliver a sailboat, a Cornish Crabber, to the owners in
Spetses.  The boat has been in dry dock in Kalamaki all winter and is in
terrible shape; it doesn’t even have a motor.  Chris finds two men to help
repair it; they’re both named Nikos and they drive a three-wheeled tin
van.  Then Chris enlists the aid of another neophyte, and they sail the
Aegean Sea to Spetses, accidentally setting the boat on fire more than
once along the way.  His greatest adventure is joining the crew of an
expert sailor and teacher, Tom Cunliffe, aboard his vintage sailboat from
Brighton, England to Newfoundland, retracing Leif Eriksson’s journey
across the Atlantic.  There are ice floes, icebergs and a ferocious storm.
 One of my favorite passages: “And then I saw something I don’t ever want
to see again as long as I live: a colossal wall of gray water bearing down
on us. It obscured the very sky; it stood half as high as the mast.  There
was no way we could avoid being swamped.  My legs went weak and I
whimpered inwardly.” By turns, the book is a lesson in sailing,
history and geography.  Combine those with humor, and you have a winning combination.