In an account combining elements of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon
Pym and a sensitivity training group, a father and son courageously
voyage around the tip of South America, challenging the elements,
their sailing prowess, and their capacity to get along. The elder
Hays, founder and artistic director of the National Theater of the
Deaf, his 24-year-old son, Daniel, and a cat named Tiger bravely
sail a 25-foot boat on a 17,000 mile, 317-day adventure, navigating
the fearsome Drake Passage around Cape Horn by way of the Panama
Canal, the Galapagos Islands, and Easter Island, and emerging
unscathed (save for the cat) in the south Atlantic. Written in
alternating voices in ship's log form, with frequent musings on the
meaning of life, death, and the father-son relationship, the terse
entries mute much of the excitement inherent in such an
undertaking. But the trip has its moments: As they round the Horn
fighting gale-force winds and 20-foot waves, the Sparrow is
momentarily flattened, and Daniel, tethered to the boat, is swept
into the ocean. Most of the drama, however, is to be found in the
minor power struggles between the characters themselves: Daniel, a
more laid-back type, is critical of his father's dominance; David,
a hard-driving parent, must admit to himself that his powers are
waning, and gradually he yields captaincy of the boat to his son.
These ongoing matters tend to becalm the reader in a sea of
sentiment. Fortunately, the writers also comment on germane and
interesting topics such as celestial navigation, boat design, and
sailing techniques. The reader must care about the Hays family to
be interested in this cross between a rite of passage and a sea
passage, but the voyagers deserve accolades for this hazardous
journey. (Kirkus Reviews)
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