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By the Grace of the Sea : A Woman's Solo Odyssey Around the World Hardcover – August 9, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine Publishing; First Edition edition (August 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071355278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071355278
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,373,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a bankrupt business, pending lawsuits and an audit by the IRS, Henry had plenty of reasons to hit the deck. In 1989 she set sail aboard the 31-foot Southern Cross and traveled the world. Eight years later Henry returned to Acapulco, Mexico; at 56, she became the oldest American woman (not the first, as the book jacket erroneously reports) to complete a solo circumnavigation. Over the course of this memoirish travelogue, Henry emerges as an artist, creating original watercolors of the coastal villages she calls home, mounting exhibitions in galleries across the globe and earning enough money to support her sailing. She also develops a deeper understanding of herself. Indeed, Henry may well be construed as a shining example of midlife reinvention, an inspiration to woman wishing to put aside the past in pursuit of a dream. Unfortunately, Henry's narrative lacks the requisite arc and flow of a compelling story. Full of mundane details (including what she ate for breakfast, the contents of her pantry and her latest book selections), the writing feels slow and weighted. Endless laments about her failed business, unlucky love life and strained relationship with her daughter fine fodder for a private diary feel cliched and tiresome when issued for public consumption. Occasionally, Henry peppers the text with anecdotes about the political history of each region, serving to right the sinking ship. Watercolors and b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Henry, the first American woman to sail 27,000 miles solo around the world, left Acapulco in her 31' sailboat, Southern Cross, on May 4, 1989, and returned eight years later on May 5, 1997. Except for approximately two years intermittently exploring some of the 40 islands and countries en route, Henry spent her time navigating treacherous waters and endured gale-force winds, high seas, equipment and navigation failures, and the constant, frightful prospect of nighttime collision with behemoth cargo ships. In log-book diary form, she recounts the encounters and events of her long journey-first to Polynesia and the Coral Sea, then through the Malacca Straits to the Arabian Sea and onward to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the North Atlantic, until finally she threads the Caribbean homeward. The narrative is garrulous yet informative and evocative, but the editorial decision to substitute original letters for creations that "reflect closely the nature and content of real letters" compromises its authenticity. Still, this tactic neither diminishes Henry's accomplishment nor detracts from the interest this memoir will generate. For most public and large academic libraries.
Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Rather, I would like my money back.
B. T. Schaefer
To do it the way Pat did is truly remarkable.
James Conant
We bought her book and couldn't put it down.
Tom Sellers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Fern on October 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is an inspiration to all of us with wanderlust and dreams of sailing across an ocean in a small boat. Over and over in Pat's book you get the feeling that " Maybe I can do this too!" Her extraordinary feat and her search for answers to life's biggest questions start from failure, self doubt, and financial disaster. She proves that you do not have to be rich, or a world class athlete ,to accomplish the most extraordinary dreams.
This book is a good read, and it rings true.
The heartfelt authenticity of the writing takes the reader beyond the nuts and bolts of gear, equipment and weather. Pat shows us what it feels like out there on the ocean, in a personal and real way.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cutedeedle on December 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I share both sides of the reviewers here. On the one hand, Pat Henry had great courage to undertake a solo trip around the world in a fairly modest boat. The multitude of things that went wrong -- Murphy's Law in action -- were indeed quite a trial for Pat. That alone makes for fascinatingly horrible reading. I've done a lot of sailing in the past, I've read several books on "blue water" cruising (including "Passage to Juneau"), and I would say this book is unique. The basic premise is admirable, Pat did manage her world sail tour, but she *is* the most whiny, self-absorbed, self-pitying, hapless person that you'll read about in the world of sailing. Geez, that was the first thing that struck me upon finishing the book! I don't think Pat was really prepared for such a voyage -- not financially, emotionally, nor psychologically. Reading this book is almost a "how-not-to" instruction manual, and it's also like coming upon the scene of a terrible auto wreck -- you can't look away and you can't leave until you learn the outcome.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Heather Wilson on August 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thank you, Pat, for renewing my spirit and reminding me who I am. I couldn't put your book down, resonating with the inner and outer journeys you so openly share. In you I found a kindred soul. I too married ridiculously young, had children and divorced before educating myself and running a successful business which provided a very nice lifestyle, including extensive travel. I thought my life was finally on track. Then I lost just about everything -- primarily my sense of worth -- and fell into chronic depression. As a beacon lighting the way, your book woke me up. Your never-say-die attitude and determination to plow ahead ready or not reminded me of the spitfire that I used to be; ready to try anything and bursting with dreams and goals for the future. You've inspired me to stop hiding my light under a bushel and get back into the ring.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stu Marty on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What an amazing and surprising journey I began when I opened By the Grace of the Sea and began to read. By the close of the first chapter I was fascinated with this author Pat Henry -- who she was, where she had come from and where in the world was she going. That's exactly where she was going, and to see the ports and people through her sensitive, often passionate words was a wonderful experience. I have never been in the ocean, or even sailed on a sailboat. I have never been abroad, and I am not an architect, artist, or even a woman, but I was amazed at how often I easily identified with the thoughts and feelings Pat sprinkles through her book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By virginia tindall on September 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Pat Henry's account of her eight year and one day odyssey, traveling solo around the world in a small sail boat is more than a nautical adventure story. Her descriptions are vivid, painterly; as one might expect from a woman who earns her spending money during the long journey by selling the colorful watercolors she paints of villages and harbors. Pat's courage, tenacity, and problem-solving skills are inspirational. That she embarked on this solitary journey in late middle age is remarkable. A beautiful exciting story about sailing, ports, and personal growth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gorsline on September 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
From the opening poem by Sarah Zale to the final docking 8 years later, this book captivated me. I, too, am a sailor and I was captivated by Henry's honesty, direct approach and sensitivity. This is a must read for everyone who dreams of becoming adventuresome, those who already are adventurous and need a boost to buy the boat and get going, and armchair devotees of excitement. I loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carlene Garrick on September 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Henry's well written tale of her solo circumnavigation is an interesting and entertaining read, but as others have noted, she seems to have a knack for whining and complaining. I picked up this book because I wanted to get a woman's perspective on the cruising life. I did, but had to keep reminding myself that it was just one woman's perspective. I'd like to think others had a more balanced view. On the other hand, it's also possible that other accounts are really just sugar-coating their experiences. I have to give the author a lot of credit for not pulling any punches in her tale. If you want a tale that's a little less self-centered account of a woman's solo circumnavigation under sail, have a look at Tania Aebi's "Maiden Voyage." If you want to hear a formidable woman tell you what she really thinks, pick up a copy of "By the Grace of the Sea."
- Joe
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Conant on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous book, very well written, about an amazing adventure. Her story of sailing around the world in a 31-foot boat is interesting enough. To do it all alone, without enough money to start with, having to figure out ways of making money in strange ports as she went - that is amazing. I sailed around the world in a 42 foot boat with my wife to share the duties and with enough money. I thought I had an adventure. To do it the way Pat did is truly remarkable. Her writing accurately reflects the joys and challenges of world cruising. Seen from a woman's eyes, she saw things I never saw (I'm male) She was exposed to dangers I never was, and she reacted to situations in ways that help me understand women a little better. On top of all this, she deals intimately with the healing of troubled relationships she left at home, and the rethinking of what she wants her life to be. I enjoyed every page of this book.
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