Thursday 6 October 2011

Slow Travel by Mari Rhydwen

Mari and her partner Allen gave up their ordinary lives in Australia to sail the Indian Ocean for two years and this book is the result. It documents their journey and their experiences in the countries and islands they stop off at on the way. Inevitably, as yachting itself is, the book is dominated by the weather - ocean storms and a period spent becalmed - and the mundane tasks necessary to keep a boat seaworthy. There are some beautiful descriptions of the wildlife:

The only signs of life were dolphins playing in the clear deep ultramarine, our first spinner dolphins. They leap from the water and spin in the air, performing airborne pirouettes like a voluntary and spontaneous circus act. They even put on night shows. Dozens of them would frolic around the boat leaving three-dimensional trails of interweaving phosphorescence, criss-crossing tunnels of flashing light like underwater fireworks.

Rhydwen is a Buddhist and interweaves into the narrative her thoughts about the spiritual nature of the mundane tasks and often long periods of inactivity. She also observes the social inequalities of the countries they visit (while being very aware of the inequalities of her own home country). She comments on the way that our current lifestyles are alienating us from the natural world and how a return to slower lifestyles could benefit us and the natural world.

This is a very readable book, conversational in tone and always thoughtful and by turns entertaining and moving. It did rather put me off ever sailing around the world though, not that that really was ever an ambition of mine!

Slow Travel by Mari Rhydwen published by Allen and Unwin


bunnits said...

Sounds like one I need to check into. Thanks.

Sorry my commenting has been intermittent. I really enjoy your blog. These past few weeks have been hectic. I'm hoping things slow down a bit after next week.

Gabrielle Bryden said...

Such beautiful descriptions of the dolphins - poetic prose.

RG said...

Sailors are a different sort. Especially long distance ones!