“Crossing An Ocean Under Power” Reviews
As a fan of Beebe’s “Voyaging Under Power” and a jealous admirer of the Nordhavn 62 expedition style trawler yacht, I read with interest about the 2004 transatlantic convoy sponsored by Pacific Asian Enterprises, builder of the Nordhavn line of high seas and offshore trawler yachts. I don’t own a Nordhavn 62 (I wish) and my seafaring is limited to adolescent adventures in my small sailing skiff and the occasional offshore fishing trip, venturing out not much past 20 miles from the shore. I had followed the adventures of the Nordhavn sponsored 18-boat convoy on the Trawler Transat website where I read Ken Williams’ fascinating emails of his experiences on the Sans Souci, his Nordhavn 62 in the “fast boat” portion of the expedition. This book is NOT a further revision of Jim Leishman’s (Nordhavn CEO)1993 update of Beebe’s 1975 “bible” for power boat circumnavigators.
It is not an edited digest of his informative emails, but rather a compilation of them. This said, they are quite useful in that Williams is not an experienced offshore navigator, but admits that prior to this venture, his trips have been limited to sight-of-land excursions offshore, never exceeding 8 hours. They upgraded to the N62 simply because they wanted an eminently seaworthy vessel capable of handling whatever rough seas they might encounter in their short hops. So the book is written in an accessible style, from the vantage point of a retired software designer who needed a lot of hand-holding on this bold adventure. The group of 18 were, as the origin might indicate, largely made up of Nordhavns, though it was not limited to craft from that builder.
Notwithstanding the journal format, the book contains a lot of information on how to prepare, provision, and maintain a power boat on a long-diatance cruise spanning open ocean. There are some overview or stock-taking synopses as well as other viewpoints, such as that of the chef and Ken Williams’ wife Roberta.
All in all, an informative, entertaining and salty tale and a
good one or two evening’s read. The ample photos nicely complement the text.
I’ve never owned a boat – and probably never will – but I do appreciate a good narrative.
I used to know Ken Williams (the author) in his old life as a programmer, and a mutual old friend passed his book along to me recently. I didn’t expect I would ever take the time to read it, but intended to show it off to others that used to know Ken and his wife from their glory days as computer game developers.
On a recent flight, I found I had no other reading material but Crossing an Ocean under Power in my carry-on. I started reading and didn’t put it down until hours later when my plane touched down. I was so caught up in Ken’s travels that I didn’t even realize the plane was on the ground!
I have to admit I always viewed the big yachts as “pleasure craft” and rich men’s toys. I was clearly wrong. After reading this book, I have a new apprecaition for this pursuit and an even greater respect for the men and women who pursue it.
Ken’s in-depth descriptions of the preparation, maintenance and just sheer amount of “Stuff” involved in his pursuit provided a real education. With plain language descriptions of what things do, how they work and what happens when they don’t, the book is entertaining and readable. It’s a real insiders look at what to expect when you challenge the big ocean in a small boat, what can go wrong, and how to do it right.
Reading through the book, I really got the feeling of being along for the ride. It was a great narrative that kept the pages turning. From the broken bolts and expensive repairs to the dancing dolphins off the bow and simple joys of a star filled sky as seen from the center of the ocean, I felt like I shared Ken’s frustrations when the bad things happened and enjoyed the ride when everything was running smooth. It was quite a book.
I do share the other reviewers sentiments that it would have been great to have color pictures in the book, but it does say (on about every third page) that photos from his trip are available at www.trawlersweb.com, and they were still there last time I checked. (Worth the download time too – even for us unlucky souls on dial-up.) The b&w photos in the book aren’t bad, but it’s the words that make this one worth the money.
An instructive book and also an armchair odyssey. Definitely worth $20!
Your style of describing the Atlantic adventure was very honest and helped those of us without years of ocean going experience understand the “fears” and worries you had on a trip that you felt might be more than you could handle.
Ken Williams’ narrative … has been exciting, inspiring, and a valuable contribution to those of us who like long range cruising. We owe him a debt, not just for writing it, but for having the humility to talk frankly about what he perceives as his — and his boat’s — limitations.
I really have learned so much just from your detailed accounts. Many thanks for sharing so generously of your time and experiences.
You can’t imagine how mesmerizing I’ve found your log. …I will retire in a month, and I’ve always wanted to do what you did. … If I ever do get a boat, it will be because you inspired me. You don’t need to reply. I just wanted you to know what a cool guy I think you are.
Just wanted to let you know that your notes have inspired me to get off my behind and get on the water. It may take me 5 years, but I want to cross the Atlantic and cruise the Med. The Rally has proved it can be done.
Cheers, Dave R
Thank you so much for taking the time to keep all of us who would love to have crossed with you updated in such an honest warm way. I had to check everyday! I am a former Destroyer officer and your adventure brought back some wonderful memories. thanks again….
Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. For some of us this is only a dream, and I have put myself in your place many times… The lottery for tomorrow night is 220 million, with a lot of luck I’ll be joining you in the future.
I want to express my appreciation not only for your weblog which seems to be the best…, but also for the candor which it contains. You share the realities and apprehensions of the passagemaking life in port and on the sea.
I want to thank you for the wonderful trip with the frank and humble comments-so educational even to an old boater and a “great read” from beginning to end.!!! I will reread it…
Thank you for this unique gift, I am eternally grateful! I have especially enjoyed it as a fellow, albeit currently land locked, water rat that will follow in your footsteps (swim strokes?:-) in the future, you guys are truly an inspiration to those of us still in the dreaming/planning stages!
Kudos and thanks for your personal, interesting, informative account of your Atlantic crossing aboard Sans Souci! For many of us who are unlikely to be able to cross an ocean aboard our own small ship, [you] provided all of us with a delightful way to see how it feels to head out to sea in a small(ish) trawler yacht.
I’m a French Editor and journalist in Montreal and a boater for years. Just want to say a thousand thanks for your wonderful updates, better than most so called “professional” journalists could do.
… I just wish you could keep going the updates here and there, wherever you’re on the water or on land. I learned a lot through your writings, including the ability to show so much diplomacy to explain difficult moments.
Thank you for the adventure you took us along. Every day we were looking forward to read your updates and look at your pictures.
With your writing you made us being part of it, thank you for that fabulous job! I’m divided about the ending; very happy that all of you made it safe to Gibraltar, but sad that the story ends. It feels like a good book, which grabs you and makes you read through the whole night and then, when you are finished you ask yourself what next? We had many questions & thoughts about power boating and crossing the oceans, like the Atlantic. … your reports brought us closer to the answers and made us also aware of how to do it.
Peter & Lisette
My wife and I are enjoying every word you have typed. Your written words have the feel of the old radio shows when families gathered together ( so we have seen on old B/W movies growing up in the 70’s…were young by trawler standards) and followed along the stories being broadcast.
Owen and Vicki S
I’m sure I’m not the only one who would enjoy reading the “Continuing Adventures of Sans Souci and Crew!”
Just want to extend a thank you to you …. It certainly is exciting for someone who, I am sure, will never get the chance to do the same.
No name given
…I wanted to compliment you in particular … what I think has been really important is your style of writing.
Speaking only as a reader with no greater insight than my own selfish enjoyment. It feels like a family member talking and carefully explaining in a way that is both appealing, freshingly direct, honest and clear.
I found myself being drawn in and waiting for the next installment. Minor trials that have become apart of the fabric of your notes. Often I think about the problems and how I would handle or solve them and what nugget of information expands my own knowedge base. Or trying to visualize various circumstances with the aid of your pictures and words….I can see Chef Phil sitting there feeling low, how long 5 days at sea can be! …
While in the Navy many years ago I once spent 6 wks. in the Med at sea before a port call, so the comment eched back to many memories. What is facinating is your style of writing caused these reactions… Interesting…
You are doing all of us a great service.
I cannot overstate how much we love your writings
You are a great writer, I sugest a book….I’ll publish. Don’t stop writing!!
You’ve done a wonderful job of communicating experiences, feelings, fears and joys, honoring confidences, respecting privacy, but telling us like it is.
You are good!! Celibrate YOURSELF aand your WIFE!!!!
Susan and David M
What great stories!! Are you writing a book? You should.
Steven S (magazine publisher)
Ken you are a excellent writer…
We appreciate your honesty regarding your own capabilities, that of your vessel, crew, etc. It gives great credibility to all that you write.
Your writings are fabulous …. We are hanging on every word. Thank you thank you,
I’m particularly impressed with your ability to relate things like the watch duty story as if you were telling it to me personally, in confidence…
You have a rare talent for connecting with the reader, and your straightforward and honest remarks are wonderful to read. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with your willingness to share. I have learned so much form you already , and I have been enjoying it immensely.
From one of many left behind, thank you so much for your incredibly candid, informative and helpful diaries of your journey. Really, really useful (and fun) stuff.
… You are making “real” a fantasy that many skippers have but will never be able to fulfill themselves.
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