Review: A Voyage for Madmen By Peter Nichols


Book Review by Jack Smith

A Voyage For MadmenIn the summer of 1968, I was a beach lifeguard at Myrtle Beach and the only thing I worried about was girls. As Apollo 8 soared towards the moon and the Democratic Convention exploded in Chicago, nine men tried to accomplish the age-old sailor’s dream: A solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the world. Answering a challenge from the British press (with a £5,000 purse at stake), nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever: to sail around the globe nonstop. In 1968, computers were still twenty years in the future as were GPS navigation systems and cell phones. These hard case egomaniacs driven by complex desires and vainglory to attempt an extreme, life-threatening endeavor, used only rudimentary equipment and their wits. Even the start of the race gives readers an accurate glimpse of how unprepared these racers were, not to mention the inadequacy of their boats. We quickly learn what isolation and fear of drowning can do to a man. Nine started and only one finished; one participant had never even sailed before. “A Voyage For Madmen’’ is well-titled.