By Janis Couvreux
Three To-Be-Read Piles =
A Decent Read Indeed
Reviewer: Liz Merton
Janis Couvreux enjoyed a true saltwater adventure with her family in the 80s aboard the forty-two-foot ketch Cowabunga. Recounting the journey here with authenticity and a light touch, Couvreux allows armchair adventurers and old salts alike to join her, her French husband Michel, and the couple's two young boys for expeditions and exploits in ports of call in Europe, Africa, South and Central America, and in the U.S. and Mexico . . . and for an Atlantic crossing.
Published in 2017 by Filles Vertes Publishing, Sail Cowabunga! typifies what I love about small presses. While the book could have benefited from another proofing or two and maybe a few more tweaks (everyone seems to do a lot of "bidding": "he bid me goodbye" and "they bid us good morning" a few too many times), it tells a fun, readable, original story. It doesn't offer the literary flare or soul searching of a bestseller like Cheryl Strayed's Wild, but it offers readers an original, authentic, open-hearted account. (Had it gone through just another proofing session, I would probably have given it 4 TBR Piles.)
If you like a good travel yarn, this one will put you on a remote rock in the middle of the Atlantic, in a crumbling cell on Devil's Island (well, actually Ile St. Joseph), in the middle of Carnaval samba rhythms in Rio, and on deck with Couvreux as she has to transit the Panama Canal without Michel during the political unrest of the late 80s. Couvreux provides a real look at what it takes to have this kind of adventure: the bureaucratic challenges, the assaults of weather, the financial considerations, and the emotional challenges. Her honesty about the difficulties she faced when Michel had serious health troubles, the couple's financial worries, and the amount of work involved in living "the simple life" ground this book and set it apart from a lot of what one encounters now (on bookshelves and online) . . . the incomplete pretty-sunset stories.
Whether you're a landlubber or a pirate, if you want to turn the page and find yourself on another continent, grab Sail Cowabunga! and enjoy the ride.