The Way of a Ship — A Square-Rigger Voyage in the Last Days of Sail by Derek Lundy

Published by Jonathan Cape, 2002, Hardback in Dust Wrapper. 1st Ed.

Condition: Very Good in Good+ Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper has a light vertical crease the length of the spine. Leans slightly. Price Clipped. Edges of the text block lightly tanned.

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Illustrated / decorative end papers. From the cover: Off the pitch of the Horn. Wind at full-gale strength, waves as high as the maintop, sometimes hail then snow coming down thick, clouds so low they enfold the mastheads, spume and sky indistinguishable.

Derek Lundy is a magnificent storyteller and in this book he takes us on an extraordinary journey. His ancestor Benjamin Lundy crossed oceans under sail in the late nineteenth century and over one hundred years later his great-great nephew has re-created that journey. In The Way of a Ship he places Benjamin on board the Beam Head with a community of fellow seamen as they perform the exhausting and dangerous work of sailing a square-rigger across the Atlantic and round Cape Horn.

These beautiful, widow-making, deep-sea ships represented near technological perfection. They could move fast in almost all weathers and carry huge cargoes. But they demanded much of the men who sailed in them. Life at sea was a brutal and unforgiving business. Fed on a diet of pea soup, gristly salt horse, rock hard weevil-infested biscuits and just enough lemon juice to keep scurvy at bay, the seamen were dangerously malnourished and sleep-deprived. But their instinct was to give their all through the battering, screaming winds. The equation was simple: they would survive if the ship survived and so they fought to save the ship.

This is a powerful and enlightening tale and, like Melville and Conrad before him, Derek Lundy adorns his story with a profound knowledge of the sea and sailing and reminds us that the ocean voyage under sail is an overarching metaphor for life itself.

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