Read ✓ A Voyage for Madmen By Peter Nichols –

Read ✓ A Voyage for Madmen By Peter Nichols –
  • Paperback
  • 298 pages
  • A Voyage for Madmen
  • Peter Nichols
  • English
  • 17 September 2017
  • 9780060957032

A Voyage for MadmenIn , Nine Sailors Set Off On The Most Daring Race Ever Held To Single Handedly Circumnavigate The Globe Nonstop It Was A Feat That Had Never Been Accomplished And One That Would Forever Change The Face Of Sailing Ten Months Later, Only One Of The Nine Men Would Cross The Finish Line And Earn Fame, Wealth, And Glory For The Others, The Reward Was Madness, Failure, And DeathIn This Extraordinary Book, Peter Nichols Chronicles A Contest Of The Individual Against The Sea, Waged At A Time Before Cell Phones, Satellite Dishes, And Electronic Positioning Systems A Voyage For Madmen Is A Tale Of Sailors Driven By Their Own Dreams And Demons, Of Horrific Storms In The Southern Ocean, And Of Those Riveting Moments When A Split Second Decision Means The Difference Between Life And Death

NOT alias for John Christopher Sam Youd

10 thoughts on “A Voyage for Madmen

  1. says:

    This was the first 10 star book of 2017 What would make anyone want to sail around the world single handed and without stopping In 1968 The Sunday Times put up a prize of 5,000 and the Golden Globe trophy to the first person to make it back.Nine men took up the challenge One of them, Chay Blythe, couldn t even sail, but had rowed across the Atlantic Only one of them, as it turned out, was up to the challenge, and he didn t want the prize So what happened to the nine men Four dropped out before leaving the Atlantic Chay Blythe got to the Cape of Good Hope before retiring One, Crowhurst committed suicide having faked his log of pretending to sail and was obviously mentally ill Another, Nigel Tetley, in sight of the prize almost, sank That left two men The man in the lead, Bernard Moitessier decided it was all too commercial and not good for his spiritual self and so turned around and headed to Tahiti, another 10,000 miles That left Robin Knox Johnson, the only finisher who won both the Golden Globe and the money which he donated to Crowhurst s family.Despite the awful results of the race, it morphed into the Vend e Globe which takes place every four years This last one, 2016 17 saw 29 entrants of which 18 finished.The most interesting characters in the book were Donald Crowhurst and his madness He was frightened of both the sailing and financial ruin and so faked his log which showed his gradual descent into madness and thence to suicide The other was Bernard Moitessier who was a successful author and sailor but felt he had sold out and that taking the cash prize would be bad for his soul Quite what his wife also a sailor and his children thought of him not coming home but heading of to Tahiti isn t recorded.Naturally, the next book I read was The Long Way by Moitessier I had to know his views on all of this.

  2. says:

    Absolutely fantastic book Nine men six English, two French, and one Italian endeavour to single handedly sail nonstop round the world Only one man returns If you want to know what happened, you ll have to read the book I highly recommend it They were neither sportsmen nor yachtsmen Only one of the nine crossed the finishing line after ten months at sea The rest encountered despair, sublimity, madness and death.4 Stars It gave me much to think about If definitely held my interest.

  3. says:

    They were neither sportsmen nor yachtsmen Only one of the nine crossed the finishing line after ten months at sea The rest encountered despair, sublimity, madness and death The 1968 round the world yacht race was born from a number of individual plans to conduct a non stop single handed circumnavigation of the world The Sunday Times wanted to be involved but was unsure who to sponsor as they did not want to be involved with a sailor who did not win and two of the most likely to succeed already had dealsanswer sponsor a race two prizes one for the first passed the post circumnavigation and the other the fastest Few rules and certainly no minimum qualifications or standards led to a mix of men putting their names forward The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race non stop, single handed, round the world yacht race was born.What followed was a fascinating and rather old fashioned European approach to doing something because it is there to be done The men who stepped forward were a real mix of personalities, experiences, and backgrounds six Englishmen, two Frenchmen and one Italian.Old fashioned because this is the age prior to corporate sponsorship, media managers, dietary expertise and of course modern communications such as GPS, mobile satellite phones and carbon fibre boats The men all adopted differing approaches and plans with boats being adapted, some build from new and trying even trialling new designs and techniques.The race was not a large gathering of boats crossing a start line but the rules allowed departure from any UK port between 1st June and 31st October 1968, and as such the men and their preparations saw leave through that period.From there they all sailed, tacked, drifted, languished, swirled and speeded towards the prizes some for money, some for the fame and some, well because there s not much left to do.The stories of the men and their preparations and of course their journeys are riveting and frankly astonishing both in the challenge mentally and physically and the land loving reader like me who would have neither courage nor will power to confront months and months of loneliness in some of the most fierce and dangerous seas on the planet named the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties after the latitudes between 40 and 50 and 60 degrees south of the equator waves of 40 feet and and gale force winds The dangerous seas and extreme weather along with exhaustion and mental strain takes their toll with just one man finishing There is also much introspection by competitors and even some cheating that causes pain for some long after the race is over.Overall this was a real insight for me as I ve read nothing about yacht sailing or the high seas in this context I am now interested in these men, their craft for that is what it is especially in the late 1960s as the techniques are recognisable to Captain Cook than modern yacht racers and also the famed Tea Clippers who rode these seas in the mid 19th century.Oh, and why did I choose this book as it s not one I d normal pick up Well, that s down to the UK s wonderful national chain of bookshops Waterstones It was one of their books of the month in a store in Sussex The staff in Waterstones write their own brief reviews and pin them on the shelf to help readers choose.

  4. says:

    Disclaimer I am a sailor who has sailed in heavy weather, and thus I have than average interest in this book others may not find it as fascinating as I did Round the World There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings but whereto does all that circumnavigation conduct Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started So said Ishmael in Moby Dick Since I had already read Bernard Moitessier s book, The Long Way La Longue Route , I knew about the Golden Globe Race of 1968 Nichols depiction of the contestants only makes Bernard Moitessier appealing as a sailor and a man Moitessier was a character, but also a man of high integrity, and with a few exceptions, those who got to know him well, loved the man He probably suffered from depression and or bipolar syndrome, but he was fearless and without peer as a sailor, as he was in his determination to be first around the world single handed, unassisted And he was first, in a sense He crossed his outbound track in the South Atlantic i.e., he had circumnavigated , and then he gave up the race, choosing to sail from the Atlantic back to Tahiti via the Cape of Good Hope rather than to England where the race ended So Moitessier sailed 1 and 1 2 times around the world, instead of just once, and he did so without touching land, without getting assistance in any form not by taking on fresh water or food, not by getting a tow into a port, nor in any other way His reasons for dropping out of the race are understandable to those sailors who love the sea, and who have sailed in conditions bad enough to make them question why they were out there in the first place.As the writer points out, the sailors in that 1968 race had in common with Captain James Cook than they did with the sailors of the 21st Century There was no GPS, there were no satellite phones, no electric furling of sails, no solar panels to charge batteries The man who won the race, Knox Johnston, sailed in a massively over built wooden boat made of teak, and Moitessier s very simple boat, Joshua, was made of boilerplate steel all his previous boats were of wood Though I have sailed five times in the Gulf Stream, once in horrendous conditions, with Force 7 9 winds, I feel like an imposter of a sailor when I read what these guys went through Moitessier sent a message via slingshot to a merchant marine ship when he was had decided to give up the race It said that he was headed to Tahiti via the Cape of Good Hope, and he said he was doing it, parce que je suis hereux en mer, et peut etre pour sauver mon ame Because I am happy at sea, and perhaps to save my soul Moitessier felt the prize money of the Golden Globe sullied what was otherwise a noble venture, and he refused to be a part of the circus that he foresaw would ensue if he won the race, which seemed likely after he rounded Cape Horn He respected, even loved, his competitors, and they returned his affection, but he had no use for accolades from those who had no real understanding what he and his competitors had been through Despite my admiration of Moitessier, I probably understand Knox Johnston the winner clearly He just kept on, obstinately, working hard to cheer himself up every day, but like Moitessier, and unlike many of the others, he loved the sea Tetley, the other competitor who came close to finishing, understood completely when Moitessier dropped out he said, How like Bernard to do that Tetley s boat disintegrated under him 1,000 miles from England, and he was rescued at sea Donald Crowhurst, who mortgaged everything in a desperate bid to win the big prize, went mad and apparently stepped over the side in calm waters in mid Atlantic, holding his chronometer I loved this book and read it compulsively for three days until I had finished I think that even for non sailors, this is a compelling read.

  5. says:

    I read this book because A a teacher told me it was his favorite, and I always read teachers favoritesand B because I was sorely lacking something to read at the moment.I knew NOTHING about sailing I still know nothing about sailing, nor do I plan to change this state of events anytime soon So, when I first checked it out from the library, I fully expected to be hopelessly bored within the first twenty pages, if not bogged down by the sheer nautical terminology, of which I was so ignorant Well, twenty pages went byand I was still reading Well, I thought, the next twenty will probably be unbearable Then the next twenty went by.then the next twentythen the nextand before I knew, I was finished And, what is still miraculous, I had ENJOYED the thing In short, this was a pithy, well written book which kept even poor, ignorant me afloat in its quickly moving, often poignant tale.So, thanks, Mr G It wasn t half bad.

  6. says:

    The true story of the first single handed circumnavigation of the world by yacht That means, a full circuit of the world, alone On a boat powered only by sail In a time not so long ago, but before GPS.In 1968 there were a handful of men vying to be the first alone around the world, and a prize was posted, making it a race Of nine contenders, only one finished the race, and this is the story of all the noble, rugged, hapless and crazy entrants, and the extremes they underwent and went to It s a very tense, suspenseful read, and the author manages the very difficult feat of telling nine concurrent stories quite masterfully People who set out to conquer these firsts of adventure have a streak of crazy already, and then there s the setting the vast, strange oceans that are as alien to landlovers as outer space This is the story of both, told with drama and humour and pathos.

  7. says:

    Mankind, In ExtremisI had never known such a thing as single handed sailing existed until, some years back, I visited a small museum in Newport, RI, devoted to the pursuit I don t recall anything in the museum about this event, which took place in 1968 69, though no doubt there was at least a mention of it if not quite a substantial display Long a fan of true adventure and survival tales, I picked up this book some time back, began it and then set it aside Some interior compass steered me in another direction But when I recently picked up the book again, I found that it was precisely what I wanted to read and that it exceeded my expectations Right book for the right time has long been a personal reading mantra I will forgo the details and avoid possible spoilers in this review Others do it quite admirably elsewhere, including on this site From the beginning of the book I decided, and suggest that future readers do likewise, not to look up the results of the race in advance, though it becomes fairly clear in the latter sections of the book who the winner will be, and, just as interestingly, who the villain was The tale holds surprises in it than expected, including a few stunners that the reader would not have reason to suspect, not to mention that aforementioned villain So, in terms of material what actually happened the book delivers in spades But this is only one of the reasons I rated this book so highly What interested me most, and what led to the most profitable introspection, in fact, was the author s ability to plumb the depths of the nine mens characters What motivated them Kept some of them going on beyond what seemed endurance Caused others to give up How did they face challenges, the not least of which was boredom and loneliness Nichols has ample material here to plunder, making good use of his sources the publicity surrounding the race, interviews with other single handed sailors and their kin, books written by several of its participants, and his own experience at sea, all of which provide clues as to what the men were like and how they felt at various stages of the race Their motivations and personalities were strikingly different Nichols eschews moralizing but at the same time lays bare the men s characters, allowing the reader to form her own opinions One passage near the beginning I would like to quote to give a sense of the author s style as well an insight from one of the race s originators A race was in fact the last thing any of them wanted These were not yachtsmen or sportsmen They were hardcase egomaniacs drive by complex desires and vainglory to attempt an extreme, life threatening endeavor Each had powerfully visualized what must be done, and was consumed with the need to do it first They were loners One need not know much about sailing, the sea, or boats to read this tale, and while my seafaring tales bookshelf now numbers 52, I confess to having never sailed or done much in the way of boating myself, and I still get hopelessly confused about various types of rigging, for example Nichols doesn t overburden the reader with detail only what s needed to understand the difficulties the men faced and important facts concerning boat design, which I found rather fascinating He has a gift for clear, concise, explanation, aided by a number of useful illustrations concerning the racers routes and a number of photographs of the ships and racers which nicely flesh out the account I don t think I would be giving too much away to end by saying that two men emerge from this unusual contest as heroes two men who found peace at sea and within themselves They were dramatically different, and yet in a way the same One of them goes on to win the race, and the other.well, read the book and find out You ll be well rewarded if you do.

  8. says:

    Peter Nichols has put together a great little book on the 1969 Golden Globe race to be the first man to single handedly circumnavigate the globe without stopping in any ports along the way A Voyage for Madmen gives a great overview of the race and varying personalities involved from professional maritime men to vagabond sailors to one contestant who didn t even learn to sail until he was on his way Only one person completed the race.I ve read other accounts of the race including the excellent The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst and Moitessier s The Long Way which are fantastic accounts themselves and perhaps slightly enjoyable.Nichols book excels in by providing a good description of everyone in the race He is interested in the technical differences between the competitors boats and their tactics for dealing with the Roaring Forties than providing particularly deep character studies However, it s a nice overview of the race and the people involved and makes for a compelling read.

  9. says:

    This book and I got off to a rocky start I couldn t really fathom why I was supposed to care about these largely faceless, privileged white dudes in the 60s, who decide to abandon their wives, their families and friends, to sail around the world alone for the best part of a year One guy literally makes his wife homeless, as they lived on his boat together And I have zero interest in sailing, which didn t help.But, one sure way to keep me curious is to pose a mystery that I want to solve It s clear from the outset that only one of the nine competitors makes it back, and death was a consequence for some So once I pushed past the 75 page mark, I found myself weirdly invested.I still don t have much respect for the competitors it s amazing how the author glossed over the sheer number of broken marriages, failed relationships, abandoned children Only one competitor won me over, but I would have loved a bit depth to their stories There is a clear love of sailing permeating the work, so for a layman like me, the human interest angle is what propelled me forward, and I wanted to understand these men better than I felt I ultimately did.But the ending I can t stop thinking about the ending I have been googling the competition ever since, learning about their lives, and how the 2018 race is stacking up So that s quite a turnaround from how I felt at the start of the book.I m glad I read this, and I m looking forward to discussing at the next book club.

  10. says:

    The first non stop, single handed, round the world yacht race, was Like the first ascent of Everest, a feat without any larger purpose than its own end But like a trip to the moon, it was a voyage that provided man with another benchmark of the far reach of his yearning endeavor The race was nothing like today s well funded, meticulously organized Vendee Globe or BOC Challenge For a start, the rules were written as many of the competitor were already planning on undertaking the project The organization of the race by the Sunday Times transformed what some saw as a spiritual quest into a commercial venture But that doesn t mean it was a well organized one one of the competitors had never sailed before Another, prepped his boat for long after the starting deadline Anchored outside of a port in England, he was technically departed The inefficacy of radio systems in those days meant communication with the competitors was scant positions would be many times discovered only when the boats closed with the shore Certainly, the most amazing aspect of the book is the attention given to the competitors, and their lives and thoughts as they undertook what Knox Johnston, the eventual winner, described as solitary confinement with the hardest of labor Why did they do it Of course, each will have his own reason for Knox Johnston, it was for England For Moitessier, deliverance from past sins For Crowhurst, the ultimate chance to succeed in life But they all have a bit of what Nichols smartly describes as the Ulysses Factor they all felt the urge to be off, to test himself to the brink of tolerance For them, the where and how is simply the means to burrow as deeply as possible into oneself It s the answer to the relentless question that flood the mind when the exercise becomes painful and severe What am I doing here What s the point And indeed, by putting themselves in such extreme conditions, these men learn much about themselves Nichols is able to retell some of that self discovery, and particularly the maelstrom of emotions these men underwent The one critique I had for the book is that it could ve been longer Some of the aspects of the race are extremely well explored, like Crowhurst s demise But others are barely touched The clearest of all is Moitessier s shocking decision to abandon the race as he was taking the lead and to continue to sail alone around the globe By far the most amazing decision in the race, the one I can t imagine someone taking A highly competitive man, abandoning a formal competition after so long and so close to the finish line, in order to save his souls by continuing to sail alone I wish pages had been dedicated to what went on in his mind, how that decision related to his past and how he lived with it later in his life Another problem with the book is that it delves into a lot of technical sailing descriptions, rich with jargon, but doesn t contain an appendix to the non sailors In any case, a worthwhile read for anyone interested in heroic acts, and the men who pursue them.

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