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Dolphins Under My Bed

by Sandra Clayton

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1121,547,948 (4.33)7
Proving that sailing is not just the husband's pursuit, this charming narrative of one couple's first long distance voyage is told from the wife's perspective. Writing in a lively, humorous way, Sandra Clayton gives an entertaining account of her and husband David's maiden cruise from the UK, down the Atlantic coast and into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Conscious that old age or poor health could prevent them from sailing away for much longer, they left the world of work behind to chase their dream of adventure. Conditions are sometimes maddening, occasionally dangerous, but frequently magical. Marine creatures enchant their days while ships that pass in the night add a touch of romance. But the book is far more than just the story of the Claytons' 2000 mile trip. Somewhat unprepared for what faced them on the way, they had to learn from their own mistakes, finding themselves in places and situations where they never expected to be. The book has plenty to offer those who might consider embarking on a similar voyage of their own- learn how the Claytons did it, which route they took, the beautiful locations they visited, who they met along the way, and their good decisions as well as their bad. A great bunkside read, it may inspire others to make a similar break themselves.… (more)
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Sandra Clayton is the first one to say that she was never very fond of sailing. Oh, the idea of it was alright, but the mechanics of it were the issue. A few holiday sails taken over the years are the extent of her sailing experience. And her husband David's, too.

But David is fed up with the cold & damp Northern England winters. The couple is in their mid-fifties, tired of the rat race and lengthy car commute, and their good health is just beginning to falter. That's when David has a brilliant idea. If they sell the house, buy a boat and live frugally, they can retire early and spend winters basking in the Mediterranean sunshine. Sandra is not keen. But eventually a compromise is reached in the form of a two hulled catamaran, which is much more stable and rides more comfortably than a traditional sailboat.

(I have to say how much I sympathize. We are from New England. You know, snow, Arctic temperatures, Nor'easters. We thought we were hardy. Then we spent some time in Northern England in February. Not a snowflake in sight and not even that cold on the thermometer but we were FREEZING. That damp cold that just sinks in and won't let you go. It was not that much warmer inside, either. We felt like wimps! But I digress...)

And so the great adventure begins. Through the English Channel, down the coast of Europe and around the rock of Gibraltar to the lovely Mediterranean. Along the way they will become intrepid sailors, absorb the culture of lovely small port towns (frequently while looking for the laundromat) and meet a vast array of people who are mostly eager to lend a hand. Mother Nature makes a grand appearance, too, a reminder that she is big and they are small.

The author's descriptions of the beauty that surrounds them are breathtaking. It is a wonderful story, full of adventure. The Claytons are an example for the rest of us, they are healthier and happier for their choice. Don't wait until it is too late, pursue your dreams. Make the sacrifices now so you don't end up saying, when it is too late, "If I had only..."

A sequel, Something of the Turtle, will be published in the spring and a third book is in the planning stages. I am thrilled to hear that the Claytons are still sailing and can't wait to read of their continuing life aboard! ( )
  thetometraveller | Sep 30, 2008 |
Sandra Clayton’s husband told her one day that he would like for them to sell their house in England and live on a sail boat for their retirement. Although she was quite skeptical at the beginning, eventually she acquiesced and the result is “Dolphins Under My Bed,” their story as adapted from the diaries that Sandra kept while on the journey.

“Dolphins Under My Bed” is a book that is appropriate for a wide audience. People who might particularly relate are those who sail, those who travel often to smaller, more out of the way locations, and those hoping to do something incredibly interesting in their retirement. This is not to say that these are the only people who would enjoy this book. I, personally, fall into none of these categories and yet I very much enjoyed the book. Anyone who has dreamed of travelling, or who is simply interested to see an intimate picture of culture in a variety of places is likely to enjoy “Dolphins Under My Bed.” This is a book that can be read by a teenager with wanderlust and her grandfather who has enjoyed sailing and be completely appropriate for both of them. There are no sex and language issues, so that the book could be given to anyone capable of reading it without worry.

The only other thing I could have wanted would have been to learn how long the Claytons stayed on their boat after that first year, and what else happened to them. Perhaps a sequel?

For the full review:
http://www.devourerofbooks.com/2008/06/dolphins-under-my-bed-book-review/

Originally reviewed for ReaderViews ( )
  DevourerOfBooks | Jun 30, 2008 |
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Proving that sailing is not just the husband's pursuit, this charming narrative of one couple's first long distance voyage is told from the wife's perspective. Writing in a lively, humorous way, Sandra Clayton gives an entertaining account of her and husband David's maiden cruise from the UK, down the Atlantic coast and into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Conscious that old age or poor health could prevent them from sailing away for much longer, they left the world of work behind to chase their dream of adventure. Conditions are sometimes maddening, occasionally dangerous, but frequently magical. Marine creatures enchant their days while ships that pass in the night add a touch of romance. But the book is far more than just the story of the Claytons' 2000 mile trip. Somewhat unprepared for what faced them on the way, they had to learn from their own mistakes, finding themselves in places and situations where they never expected to be. The book has plenty to offer those who might consider embarking on a similar voyage of their own- learn how the Claytons did it, which route they took, the beautiful locations they visited, who they met along the way, and their good decisions as well as their bad. A great bunkside read, it may inspire others to make a similar break themselves.

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