Pacific Lady: The First Woman to Sail Solo across the World's Largest Ocean

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy World Ocean Day dear readers. Oh look at how I'm just throwing that out there as if I actually knew that today was World Ocean Day without being told - in fact, I'm not even completely sure I got the name of today's holiday right, so feel free to correct me in the comments section if I got it wrong.

Today's book, "It was an age without GPS and the Internet, without high-tech monitoring and instantaneous reporting. And it was a time when women simply didn’t do such things. None of this deterred Sharon Sites Adams. In June 1965 Adams made history as the first woman to sail solo from the mainland United States to Hawaii. Four years later, just as Neil Armstrong very publicly stepped onto the moon, the diminutive Adams, alone and unobserved, finally sighted Point Arguello, California, after seventy-four days sailing a thirty-one-foot ketch from Japan, across the violent and unpredictable Pacific. She was the first woman to do so, setting another world record."

I'm conflicted about today's book - the story itself was interesting, but the writing style was a bit bland. I enjoyed the first half of the book, where the author was sailing to Hawaii, more than the second half when she was on a three-year sailing trip. Although I had a hard time wrapping my mind around anyone wanting to rough it like that since I am definitely not the rugged outdoorsy type. I would rather lie on the beach in Hawaii and have people bring me drinks on a tray than sail there - but I'm not knocking it if other people want to do that, or as my mother always puts it, "Whatever floats your boat." ahahahaha (sorry dear readers, I couldn't resist that moment of lameness, and believe me I did try).

I had a hard time reading about the author's diet of canned meat, fruit, and vegetables without gagging - okay, maybe not the canned fruit, I was raised on canned fruit and I'm not ashamed to admit that I love it. Especially revolting was the canned Chicken and Dumplings. I can't even stand Chicken and Dumplings that are fresh so I can't even imagine what the canned version would taste like. And don't even get me started on the canned Beef Stew - is it just me or does that stuff look and smell a little too much like Alpo? Reading about how the author had to remove all of the labels from the cans and then write on the side what was in it - I assume because the air was so moist it would cause the labels to fall off, but that point was never really clarified - I was thinking back to something I read in another book once. The title escapes me because the books are all starting to blur together for me at this point - and I mean every book I've ever read in my life - but I remember a story in it about how the author and his wife were so poor when they were first married that they had to buy all of their food at a warehouse where the cans had no labels. He then when on to explain that it's possible to learn the difference between various canned foods simply by shaking the can the right way. As soon as I read that I felt the urge to run to the pantry and start shaking everything, but I never managed to discover any difference.

The most interesting part of the book was when the author was discussing how easy it was to lose track of time out on the sea. She described keeping meticulous records in her journal in order to keep track of what has already happened and what hasn't, and was stunned to discover that some things that she thought happened an hour ago had really happened days ago. I'm having trouble imagining losing all sense of time like that - without being in front of the Internet that is. It's always easy to lose track of time on the Internet, to think it's only 10 o'clock and then have that moment of shock when I look up and realize Holy crap, it's 2 o'clock in the morning. Which brings me to the most difficult part of the book to imagine, traveling without any of the conveniences today's travelers have: a cell phone to be able to call your friends and family every five minutes and say I'm bored; Internet so you can keep up with One Life to Live and General Hospital; a GPS system to yell at and say Or you're just so smug aren't you. You just have all the answers. Well you know what, no one likes a know-it-all. It's unimaginable. The author talks of how after awhile most people in that situation begin talking to themselves, and having conversations with people that aren't there. To that I say So, what's the big deal, I do that now. Not a day goes by when I don't rehearse future conversations in my head, or go back and review the way I wish conversations had happened so that I come out looking better, or say out loud the dialogue to the book I'm writing so that I can hear how it would sound if the book ever got published and then turned into a movie - you know, perfectly normal stuff like that.

Well I didn't think it possible, but I think I managed to write an entire World Ocean Day post without mention the actual ocean more than once. I think you can all see why my high school essays always got handed back with Strayed a little too much from the original topic written in red ink on the top usually followed by Not your best effort.