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A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols

A Voyage for Madmen (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Peter Nichols

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2921238,453 (3.97)11
Title:A Voyage for Madmen
Authors:Peter Nichols
Info:Harper Perennial (2002), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols (2001)

Recently added byeastlake_uk, private library, NikNak1, fbswss, vguy, GSLulos, mwolfs80015, Cryptokiwi, monicai
  1. 10
    Gypsy Moth Circles the World by Sir Francis Chichester (John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    The strange last voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin (nandadevi, bluepiano)
    nandadevi: The story of the other sailors in this race
  3. 00
    The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Moitessier, who to me was the hero of the race, writes about his own voyage--'his own voyage' rather than 'about his part in the race' because the contest is in his book almost incidental.

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Not my field (I've only been sailing once) but brings it to life both as technical challenge and human drama. Success and failure clearly shown as result of personality, rather than luck or skill. The phlegmatic Knox-Johnston making himself comfortable as he seems to float to victory contrasts with the self-punishing John Rifgway who gives up after a struggle, Moltessier who just gives up all too easily and the manic, delusional Crowhurst who ends up dead. ( )
  vguy | Sep 15, 2015 |
A nice, straightforward summary of the notorious 1968 singlehanded Round-the-World race. It doesn't add a huge amount to the several other first- and second-hand accounts of the race I have read, but Nichols does make an effort to provide a bit of perspective (giving modern readers some idea why the British and French public of the time were so hungry for this kind of pointless heroic exploit, for instance).

The viewpoint Nichols adopts is that of someone who has done a bit of ocean sailing but not so much that he takes it for granted. This allows him, without sounding either too patronising or too technical, to explain the special features of long-distance cruising anno 1968 in such a way that they make sense to the average modern weekend sailor. From a "helicopter view" forty years on, we might conclude that what set Moitessier and Knox-Johnson apart from the others was that they were using boats in which they had already successfully made long voyages, whilst the others were either not so experienced or in untried purpose-built boats (in Crowhurst's case both). Nichols goes a bit deeper than this, and looks in detail at how the technical features of the boats and the psychological state of the sailors affected their chances of success (although of course luck and weather played a big part too). I found it particularly interesting how much the information (or absence of information) they had about the progress of their rivals affected all the participants.

Probably a good book to read if you haven't yet read La longue route and The strange voyage of Donald Crowhurst, but a bit redundant if you already have. ( )
  thorold | May 7, 2015 |
Riveting. A window onto another world. A bunch of people with great contrasts of experience and character, doing something extraordinary in what is nearly, though not quite, the modern world. The author did a great job keeping a balance with the thrills and spills and the repeating monotony of life at sea on your own. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
This is an essential companion to Tomalin and Hall's 'The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst' which is one of the finest - and most disturbing - accounts ever written of a man's descent into madness. Nichols tells the story of the other boats in this race around the world from which only one returned, the others succumbing the harshness of a race never attempted before, or their own versions of madness. Perhaps the most troubled story was that of Nigel Tetley, who destroyed his own yacht trying to keep up with the false progress being reported by Crowhurst, and then destroyed himself even more dramatically than Crowhurst. Often there's an element of madness in long distance sailors, like the mountaineers who go back to the high peaks where sooner or later nearly all meet their deaths, but theirs is also an exceptionalism. Nichols explores the thin line between greatness and madness and the circumstances in which men and women cross that line and some never come back. ( )
  nandadevi | Apr 14, 2014 |
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
A Voyage for Madmen is a book about boats and the sea, about wind and waves and frightening, lonely places. But more than that, it is about sad, heroic characters, and Nichols does characters like a novelist does.
added by nandadevi | editThe Guardian, Sam Wollaston (May 26, 2001)
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Everything can be found at sea,
according to the spirit of your quest.
To the memory of my father, Brayton C Nichols
For his sister, Cynthia Hartshorn
For my cousin, Matt deGarmo
First words
In 1966-1967, A 65-Year-Old Englishman, Francis Chichester, sailed alone around the world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060957034, Paperback)

In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death.

In this extraordinary book, Peter Nichols chronicles a contest of the individual against the sea, waged at a time before cell phones, satellite dishes, and electronic positioning systems. A Voyage for Madmen is a tale of sailors driven by their own dreams and demons, of horrific storms in the Southern Ocean, and of those riveting moments when a split-second decision means the difference between life and death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"On April 22, 1969 the world watched as a small sailboat came ashore at Falmouth, England, completing a voyage of astonishing courage and endurance that would forever alter our ongoing adventure with the sea. Ten months earlier, nine very different men had set off in small and ill-equipped boats, determined to do the impossible, sail around the world alone and without stopping, to win the race dubbed the Golden Globe." -- Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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