Heres a sentence youll be hard-pressed to find in any other sailing magazine on this blue planet: “On his first and only Kenya safari in 1932, Carl Schenck was attacked by his white hunter after he machine-gunned the heads off three loping giraffes from the open cab of a safari truck.” Whoa. And thus begins, in a surprising manner that soon becomes chillingly clear, the opening page of the 1999 novel Voyage to the North Star (Carroll & Graf), which is quite simply one of the most haunting, epic sea stories Ive ever read.
North Star follows the exploits of down-on-his-luck Depression-era sailor Will Boden, who is enlisted by the aforementioned Schenck–a nouveau-riche industrialist whose vast wealth is surpassed only by his crass vulgarity–for a most fateful, and ultimately tragic, mission. Boden joins the crew aboard the ill-suited ship Lodestar for a high-Arctic cruise in search of the sort of big-game trophies Schenck was denied on his African misadventure.
What transpires, at sea and ashore, is truly unforgettable.
If you’re asking what this has to do with a journal devoted to cruising under sail, the answer is simple: It’s all about the writer. This month, we’re pleased once again to publish a story by the creator of Voyage to the North Star, the critically acclaimed author Peter Nichols. His account of bareboat chartering in the Bahamas with his wife and a mystery guest, “To the Abacos with Pablo,” begins on page 32.
Its always a treat to showcase Peters work; his last piece for us, on rambling through the French West Indies, appeared in the August 2002 charter issue. If there are more versatile writers working today, Im certainly not aware of them. In North Star, a fast-paced story that also weaves history with social commentary, he displays a deft hand with fiction. But his first book, Sea Change (Viking, 1997)–a first-person account centered around a solo transatlantic passage on a leaky wood boat–was an equally engaging memoir and adventure tale. And in A Voyage for Madmen (HarperCollins, 2000), a masterful retelling of the 1960s Golden Globe solo around-the-world race, he proves to be an ace at nonfiction journalism.
This month, Peter isnt the only accomplished author to grace our pages. Also in our chartering section is an article, beginning on page 38, by John Vigor entitled “Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun,” the story of a (formerly) confirmed monohull sailors transition into the world of multihulls in the Grenadines.
Now based in Seattle, John is a prolific writer and former newspaperman whose first six boating books covered all aspects of the sport, from maintenance and repairs to navigation and yacht design. John has been contributing to Cruising World since the late 1980s, when he first arrived Stateside with his family after setting sail from his native South Africa aboard the 31-foot Freelance. Perhaps fittingly, Johns next book, Small Boat to Freedom (due for release this fall by Lyons Press), addresses the circumstances of that dramatic passage.
Over the last few years, weve had a great time commissioning well-known authors and writers to set sail on our behalf and furnish us (and you) with personal accounts of their chartering adventures in some of the worlds most popular destinations for sailing vacations. We pride ourselves on the quality of prose that regularly appears between these covers, but a bylined story from talents like Peter and John–and such past charter-guide contributors as Jonathan Raban, Geoffrey Wolff, Angus Phillips, and Dan Spurr–is always something special.
So whether you yourself are looking to charter in the next season or two or just in the mood for an armchair cruise with narrators whose powers of description are beyond the ordinary, we hope youll enjoy this months offerings from Messrs. Nichols and Vigor. Theyre even more fun than, well, a safari in Kenya.