Blind Descent

No Comments 24 April 2011

Great book.  Superb story, well written. Highly captivating.

I almost didn’t blog this book, but it’s just too bloomin’ good.  It does have a substantial amount of diving in it.  Cave diving.  Really deep cave diving.  There are no casual sunburned tourists here.  This is the real deal.

Who would imagine that there are explorers willing to put their lives and fortunes on the line to discover the deepest place on earth?  The combination of extreme spelunking and cave diving requires not only technical skills, determination, and fitness, but expertise at expedition organization and fundraising.  And when the equipment is inadequate for the task… your own.  OK, design your own rebreather.  It’s hard to imagine packing it all into one lifetime.  It’s hard to imagine packing tons of gear deep underground and then pulling it back out.  James Tabor takes the reader right along with Bill Stone and Andi Hunter exploring Cheve Cave in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico and Alexander Klimchouk, Grennadiy Samokhin and Ekaterina Medvedeva in Krubera Cave in the Abkhazia region of the Republic of Georgia.  These people are our contemporaries and they are legends.  They have earned the title and the respect.

The page after the dedication contains two quotes:

  • Welcome to the world of the deep — where the strangest things are the people you meet.
    Hazel Barton, microbiologist and cave explorer
  • There is nothing more powerful than this attraction towards an abyss.
    Jules Verne, Journey to the center of the Earth

Blind Descent is near the top of my list.  James M. Tabor must have been in a trance when he wrote it.  It is that good! 

Buy it, buckle up, read it.   I promise, you won’t forget it.


Simple Courage – A true story of peril on the sea

No Comments 02 April 2011

This story is immensely compelling.  It captured and focused the attention of both America and Europe during Christmas 1951 and early 1952.  I was just a wee little pup at that time, but I’ll bet there are plenty of octogenarian-types that remember the events quite sharply.  It is a classic story; all the right pieces are in play:  one man against the savage storm, against all odds, the whole (English speaking) world enthralled, holding their breath.  Duty, love, pride, seamanship, heroism, and enough bull-headed courage to fill the ocean.  Volkswagen cars (can you imagine what a pristine 1952 bug would be worth today?) Stradivarius violins, (Don’t cheat and read the final chapters before their time) cash, jewels, nuclear material.  Holy smokes this story should keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page…….

But sadly, it doesn’t.  And that’s a tragedy, because the story is completely true and it deserves to be told with all the force of Thor’s hammer…..and find its place in the seafaring mythology of future generations.  It is a Viking Epic, binding the United States, Europe and Scandinavia.

Simple Courage has more than enough guts to be a legend:  A young Danish Captain, Kurt Carlsen, crossing the stormy North Atlantic over the holidays.  His freighter is hit by two rogue waves,  the hull cracks, the cargo shifts…..the crippled ship rolls 60° to port and doesn’t recover.  The propeller and rudder are now out of the water and the 40′ waves keep coming whipped by Force 12 winds.  Passengers, crew and cargo in peril; one man entrusted with their safety. 

The story is powerful and timeless, but Delaney belabors every tiny detail, looking at it from every angle, trying to reinforce his words by repeating them.  How much better this story would have been if it were captured in 200 pages instead of 300.  And written as an adventure instead of a chronicle for historians.  Then it would have the life it deserves instead of a mere place on the shelf.


Full Moon Flood Tide – Bill Proctor’s Raincoast

No Comments 01 April 2011

I have heard it said that the Broughton Archepelago is more scenic than the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands put together.  Hard to imagine, but that alone should provide enough incentive for an extended visit.  Bill Proctor is an “old-timer” in the Johnstone Strait and Broughtons area.  This book is a collection of his memories and experiences: people, places and events.  Part fisherman, part logger, part naturalist, part conservationist, with an evolving perspective as the tide lifts the past into the future.

At first, I found the book difficult to read because the places talked about didn’t match up to the map on the facing page.   But I found myself reading a chapter here and another ancedote there; reading it out of sequence, rather like it is written; a little bit every day or two.  It took a long time to finish.  I read any number of the short chapters several times.  In the process, I felt like I came to know Bill Proctor and the area he calls home.    It’s like that aromatic loaf of fresh banana bread.  I don’t sit down and eat the whole thing; I enjoy one little slice and then another, and after a week or so it’s time to bake more. 

If you plan on cruising the Broughtons, Full Moon Flood Tide will give you a boatload of places to explore; places that you might miss without a bit of local knowledge.  Starting at Anacortes, it is less than 200 miles To Johnstone Strait and a little more to the Broughtons.  Are we there yet?

Big thanks to Bill and Sharon Robertson for loaning me their copy.  Bill is entering the waypoints at this very moment.
Click on the map and push the throttles up a notch.
Are we there yet?

© 2011 MVVELKOMMEN. Some Rights Reserved .