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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Chris Stewart - Three Ways to Capsize a Boat

Book review by Brian Lowen read out live on bookshow Thurs 3rd April

An hilarious tale of three sailing adventures by the author.

He starts off as a lonely and bored shepherd who receives an offer that he cannot refuse – to act as Skipper for the summer months for an old lady who owns a Cornish Crabber moored in the Greek islands. There is only one problem – he has no idea how to sail a boat!

He undertakes a crash course on sailing with his friend in Littlehampton harbour and then sets off for Greece with all expenses being paid by his elderly employer, Jane Joyce, thinking that he knows it all and is now a competent sailor.

He has just a few weeks to get the boat ready before Jane and her party arrive for the summer season. He eventually locates the mysterious Captain Bob whom Jane has employed to get the boat repaired and ready for sea. He is appalled to find the boat in a terrible state and lacking its engine. He sacks Captain Bob and employs a scruffy bunch of locals who agree to help him fix up the boat and find him a new engine. They manage to get it finished before Jane arrives, and after some more sailing lessons he sets off with a friend to sail over to the island where Jane is staying. 

He has a glorious summer taking Jane and her friends around the Greek islands before returning home to his sheep, but now a competent sailor.

He receives another offer from another friend, Tom Cunliffe, to join his crew who are planning to set sail in his vintage Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that he and his wife have been restoring. The crew totals six, plus Tom’s young daughter.  The plan is to sail across the North Sea to Norway and then over to Iceland and on to Newfoundland before reaching their destination in the USA. He is warned that although it is summer it will be very cold, and so he sets off on another adventure.

 I cannot imagine why anyone would want to undertake such a journey which could not be a greater contrast to his idyllic time in the Med. But complete it he does, encountering some horrendous seas on the way.

A light hearted read, especially attractive to a reader who enjoys sailing, although a lot of the sailing terms are explained during the story.

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