Book Review: Journey of the Snow Goose

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

One of our family passions is sailing - whether on Lake Minnetonka or Lake Michigan, we're good to go. However, we haven't done much sailing on the ocean, and so it is always very interesting to me to read books that explore this.  And so, I was very excited to review our Sailing Editor - Barbary Chaapel's - book, entitled Journey of the Snow Goose.

This book is a departure from Barbary's exquisite poetry, which evokes a great sense of place.  Journey of the Snow Goose is different, in that it is a highly detailed log that also gives us a sense of place - and of the journey. It is eminently readable, and extremely enjoyable to read. Warning: it will make you want to run to your sailboat and take off (or run and buy one!). If you've spent any time on the water, you'll know what I mean.

We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Barbary about Journey of the Snow Goose. Here's what she had to say...



WE:  Please tell us about your book, Journey of the Snow Goose...

BC: During the 7 ½ years of living and cruising aboard Snow Goose I kept a daily log of events, the people we met, my thoughts about what we were doing.  At the same time Bill kept a technical log of wind, waves, compass direction, etc.  One day I decided to read these logs and found the writing was fading fast, because I’d kept my log in pencil.  So it was time to recopy.  And I thought why not combine our two logs into a book.



WE: What is it like, to truly leave home? Can one ever come back? Or, do you just circle, in life?

BC: I don’t think we circled.  That was our adventure of a lifetime.  This mountain life we live now is fine, too, but not comparable. The difference between blue and green.  When we left the dock at E. 55th Street Marina in Cleveland on that summer day we never gave a thought to the fact that we would be all by ourselves with no one else to depend on. I’m an Aries, Bill a Leo.  Maybe this attitude is built into our stars.  I must say many friends and family were disgruntled that we would leave them - I could feel it in their questioning - what are you running away from?  And our reply was not running away, running toward!  We gave ourselves an edge as far as our house - renting it out the first few years, selling it at a later date.  So in the beginning we knew if our boat foundered or we became ill we had a house waiting.  Turns out we did experience just that when a forty ton fishing boat rammed us.  That’s detailed in my log.



WE: What is it like to live and travel on a sailboat?

BC: After awhile you become seasoned and have a bluewater sailor attitude.  You no longer belong to the land.  Many seasons of fashion passed me by, and I had no need or desire to know about them - the length of skirts, the latest haircut.  And the TV news, how great was that - not to hear it all the time.  Our life became simple.  Know the weather, deal with it.  The very first thing you do after anchoring is row around the anchorage  with the paperbacks you’ve just read to trade with other boats, catching up with old friends and meeting new people.



WE: Are meals different, while sailing? Do you prefer to eat locally where
you stop?

BC: I cooked the simple dishes that are possible without any refrigeration.  It is quite possible to get very inventive: Purslane on beaches is a great source of greens.  And I had two pots of herbs aboard.  And all the makings for sprouts.  Serious liveaboards seldom docked at marinas.  A restaurant for us was an Event with a capitol E.  I've included cooking, baking methods and recipes in my book.



WE: You've certainly met a cast of characters - who are your favorites?

BC: We are still in touch with some of the sailors we met, Art and Dorothy from the BartIett Pair, Mel from Kant Miss. I will always have a soft place in my heart for our friend, John, aboard Mananui, my nurse until I had enough nerve to turn myself into an ER for spinal surgery. 



WE:  How is sailing so completely different from other means of travel?

BC: S-L-O-W.  You have time to look at the sky and sea.  A sailboat of 30 feet has a top speed of about 6 knots.  Maybe faster if one is surfing down the front of big waves.



WE:  Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

BC: For anyone thinking about this adventure I’ll pass on the advice we acted upon: Go small, go now.



WE: Thanks, Barbary! Go small, go now. Indeed. Your book is a treasure.


To find out more about the Journey of the Snow Goose, please see:



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