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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Old Salt Press (September 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098823601X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988236011
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Summary: Great story and very well written.
Somesh S Rao
This is a great book about the last days of the sailing merchant vessels and a terrifying trip around the Horn.
Jalone
It was easy to read and the action kept me turning the pages.
Thomas Serrin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert on August 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First a disclaimer. I've spent my life around the sea and ships, but I'm not a big fan of "sailing fiction." A lot of it, in my opinion, spends too much time trying to teach the reader about square-rigged sailing and not enough time on the story or character development. There are only so many times you can reef the sails without it getting a little old.

Spilman avoids that trap, and does it skillfully. He gives us technical detail enough to satisfy the most ardent sailor, but weaves it naturally through the narrative, setting the stage but never stealing the show. And a very believable and well-drawn cast is very much the show, as the characters struggle against a merciless sea (and each other) in an attempt to survive a transit `round the Horn' during one of the worst seasons on record.

The author's storytelling ability is eclipsed only by his obvious grasp of the subject matter, and the result is a damn good sea story. Highly recommended.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. Muir on September 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 'HELL AROUND THE HORN' by Rick Spilman (Kindle edition), the author conducts the reader on a sea voyage they will not easily forget.
From the hustle and bustle of the wharf side in Cardiff, we are introduced to the crew of the LADY REBECCA. The ageing windjammer, loaded with a cargo of coal, is set to sail from Wales, UK, to a port on the west coast of South America following the route taken by the great clipper ships around Cape Horn.
By 1905, the days of the great commercial sailing ships were dying, but Captain Barker is intent on challenging the notorious Horn once more. He is so confident, he takes his wife and children with him.
Barker's choice of sailors is both wise and eclectic. Some men have experience, others little, but one is dangerous - a fact that only becomes evident as the story unfolds. Facing unsympathetic winds, the dreaded Doldrums, fire on board and near mutiny, after two months sailing and over 8000 miles from home, the ship reaches the point of no return.
Ahead is the notorious Horn with the menacing winds and currents which are associated with it. Barker takes up the challenge and proceeds even though the sea is intent on swallowing his ship.
It is here that Spilman's personal experience as a tall-ship sailor comes to the fore. His awareness of the sea, its dangers, the excitement, the fear, and man's vulnerability in a vast stretch of wild Ocean allows him to paint an unforgettable image - one of the best storms at sea I have read.
The story is told from several points of view including that of the Captain, the Apprentice and the Captain's wife, though she has a minor role and could possibly have been omitted from the cast.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By lscollison on August 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
"When the wind did hit, Fred was first deafened by the unholy roar, and then was tossed against the shrouds. An icy wall of water washed over him but he held tight to the line he had been hauling, as the rushing water lifted him off his feet. The ship staggered and rolled in the infernal blast. Then she fought her way back up, pitching and rolling like a battered boxer, never quite knocked flat, always rising again." - from Hell Around the Horn (Chapter 9) by Rick Spilman.

Writing with the verisimilitude of one who is at home on traditional sailing ships, Spilman takes us on a long and harrowing journey from Cardiff to Pisagua, Chile, around Cape Horn during the Southern Hemisphere's winter, aboard a three-masted, steel-hulled windjammer filled with Welsh coal. The year is 1905. Young Captain Barker, part owner of the ship, is in command. "This trip was his chance. It could either establish or ruin him. All in one roll of the dice."

Using an omniscient point of view, Spillman shows us what life aboard Lady Rebecca was like for a cross-section of characters, from Captain Barker and his wife, Mary, his mates, and the seamen. We get to know a representative selection of the twenty crew members -- Will, Fred, Donnie, Harry, Jerry, and Santiago, Jansen, Jeremiah - a mixture of nationalities and races who work together under extreme conditions to see the coal delivered - and to survive. Captain Barker rules the ship but so does Murphy's Law. What can happen does happen, it's man against nature and man against man in this realistic historical novel reminiscent of Eric Newby and Joseph Conrad.

In this first novel Spilman brings the world of the windjammer alive with his well-chosen details and his lively dialogue.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By RAROWLAND on January 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I need to say this first. This book was a distinct departure from the books I typically read (and review). I'm not into sea faring yarns or "how to sail". I mainly read books about WWII, legal drama, or, political black ops. But this book caught my attention, not so much from the title, but from what was said about it by the reviewers. In short, I found Hell Around the Horn to be a totally engrossing read. So much so, I'll admit, I really could not put it down--and I do not say that lightly. It was, from start to finish, an extremely well told story. As I say, knowing nothing about sailing, I was completely in the dark during those times while the captain was ordering his crew on how to keep the ship afloat during the severe weather conditions they encountered. I will say this, however, based on what I read, I'm convinced that there is no God below 50 degrees south latitude. These sea faring men literally took their lives in their hands during this voyage delivering coal around the Horn of South America to Chile in a sailing ship. Sailing along with them, figuratively speaking, was an absolutely captivating experience for me.
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More About the Author

Rick Spilman has spent most of his life around the ships and the sea. Professionally, he has worked as a naval architect (ship designer) for several major shipping lines. An avid sailor, Rick has sailed as volunteer crew on the replica square-riggers "HMS ROSE" and "HMS BOUNTY," as well as sailing on modern and period vessels along the New England coast, the west coast of Florida, the Caribbean, the Great Lakes and the southwest coast of Ireland. He is also an avid kayaker.

Rick is the founder and host of the Old Salt Blog, a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea. He has been published in the Huffington Post, gCaptain, Forbes online, and several canoeing and kayaking print magazines. He was also a nautical columnist on the Clarion science fiction blog and a Cooley Award Winner in short fiction at the University of Michigan. His video has appeared in the Wall Street Journal on-line and in National Geographic Traveler.

Rick lives with his wife and two sons on the west bank of the Hudson River.

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