El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Near Death On The High Seas edited by Cecil Kuhne

“…that sense of the full awfulness of the sea,” a line taken from Melville’s Moby Dick, is on full display in this anthology from Vintage Books. Contained within is a group of excerpts from sailing-disaster stories throughout the years, presenting a greatest hits collection of dangerous ocean tales complied by Cecil Kuhne, former whitewater rafting guide and author of nine books.

Near Death on the High Seas opens with Steven Callahan’s Adrift, a record of his being lost at sea for 76 days. It boggles the mind of a landlubber like myself on how to handle an ordeal like that. I can’t even fathom going to sleep alone on a boat as it continues sailing let alone waking up as Callahan did to “a deafening explosion” that leads to his being “thrown into the path of a rampaging river.”

Not that having someone by your side is a guarantee of safety. In Gordon Chaplin’s Dark Wind he and his girlfriend Susan sailed to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Their journey was romantic in the beginning as they found paradise together. Unfortunately, they decided to stay in their boat rather than go ashore as a typhoon hit. They both ended up floating in the ocean, holding onto each other as large waves crashed down on them. One minute they seemed fine. Then, they were underwater and Susan drifted away into the darkness. Chaplin describes his helplessness to do anything about it: “...the next wave curled around me, wrapped me up, and did what they wanted with me.” It’s not clear what happened and likely he wasn’t fully aware himself even though his survivor’s guilt caused him to replay the events repeatedly.

The remainder of this review can be read at Blogcritics.

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