This is not your typical book review since Roger D. Taylor is not your typical author. He has written two recent books
which I most highly recommend: "MingMing and the Art of Minimal Ocean Sailing" and "MingMing and the Tonic of Wildness." However, a warning is required: if you are a sailor who believes bigger is better and that a cruising boat is a shoreside estate with the electronic sophistication of the Orion Spacecraft, move on. Roger D. Taylor, small boat expedition solo sailor single-handed his self-customized 20'9" junk rigged, engineless Corribee Mark II to the coasts of Greenland
, Baffin Island, Jan Mayen Island, Svalbard Island, Bear Island and to 80 degrees North with no more than a sextant
, portable VHF
. He is the winner of the Jester Award
by the Ocean Cruising Club
for his outstanding contribution to single-handed seamanship. Here's an excerpt from his preface to the"The Art of Minimal Ocean Sailing" which clearly defines his philosophy of sailing:
"The modern sailor is too often drowned in a technological morass.
Overload obscures vision. Digital excess veils the real world.
Constant hurry induces blindness. My own preference is to spar
lightly and directly with the ocean in a soft and sensual combat
that allows me to know it better. My task is to observe it in its
minutiae and to report its every nuance."
As I read these books
, I kept feeling that I was not reading a traditional non-fiction account of the sailing adventures of a solo sailor on a small boat but rather an intricate and weaving novel by Sartre, Camus, or Thomas Mann. Taylor writes very well. His prose is clean, precise, inventive, reflective and humorous as he shuffles between subjects of nature, philosophy, art, music
and the sea while ticking away miles towards his destinations. He exists in a literal existentialist pod defining and re-defining his relationship to his fellow man and the sea through gale force winds and whilst becalmed. His observations are refreshing and encouraging to those who feel disconnected from a world that is rapidly dumbing down in a miasma of reality TV, Yellow Journalism, Romance/Detective novels and the brain numbing cacophony referred to as music
where the death of culture and the rise of empty materialism, once again, become the driving force for successive lost
generations of people. So, if you're a fan of floating palaces, Senior Citizen beach volleyball, shoreside potlucks, and front row seats at Mallory Square, give these books a pass. However, if you see sailing as a journey to personal accomplishment and self realization, I can assure you . . . these books will speak to you.