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Sailing to the Far Horizon: The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299201902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299201906
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,377,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1978, Bitterman found an ad in Co-Evolution Quarterly seeking crew members for the Sophia, a tall-ship sailing cooperative planning to circumnavigate the globe. You paid your share and you sailed. If you didn't know how, those more experienced taught you. It was an irresistible call in a freewheeling era that suited not only her sense of adventure but also her insatiable desire to learn new things. The ship was primitive, the weather sometimes foul, and crew members came and went, but Bitterman took to sailing and the unorthodox life as if she were born to it. It was a grand, three-year ride, but as the subtitle tells us, the Sophia sank, putting an end to the venture with crushing finality. Drawing primarily on the logs and letters she sent home, the author tells this compelling 25-year-old story as if it happened yesterday. And the reader can't help but mourn the loss of the ship and the crew's improvised lifestyle, as well as feel the joy, danger, and discovery that the author experienced and never forgot. Danise Hoover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“[Bitterman] tells this compelling 25-year-old story as if it happened yesterday. And the reader can't help but mourn the loss of the ship and the crew's improvised lifestyle, as well as feel the joy, danger, and discovery that the author experienced and never forgot.”—Booklist



“When Pam Bitterman talks of her experiences on the adventurous but ill-fated Sofia in her late twenties, you can hear that this is a story she feels she can’t keep to herself. Lucky for us, she hasn’t because the result is a book in a class by itself. . . . Bitterman came away with not only a plethora of fascinating tales of world exploration and personal dynamics, but also the wisdom of one who has truly grown through adversity.”—The Log



“Although Pam wrote Sailing to the Far Horizon 25 years after the sinking the story is alive and fresh as much is based on her journals kept during her roughly four-year voyage. Her writing is very descriptive, taking the reader through the adventures and near-disasters as she lived them. . . . A well-told tale and wonderful reading.”—Santana Sailing Magazine



"The human stories embedded in this book, poignant and painful, reveal the way that a ship boils people down to their essentials. You really get at the heart of who someone is on a voyage, even before you add the defining element of tragedy."—Jim Delgado, host of National Geographic Television's The Sea Hunters and executive director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum



"Several hours after I finished reading this book, I was still recovering. I felt as if I'd been shaken, and punched in the stomach. And yes, that's a desirable reaction."—Gillian Kendall, coauthor with Mark O'Brien of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man's Quest for Independence


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
Finding the author's narrative snappish and amusing and the subject matter intriguing, I purchased the book.
Veronique Bardach
This is one of those books that I wanted to gobble up in a single setting but I made myself parcel it out in small savory bites so that it lasted for an entire week.
Larry Broat
The accounts of the Sofia and what her crew faced were both fascinating and heartfelt, and they portrayed a vivid picture of what life was like on that tall ship.
Bryan J. Matlen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pio on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I started this book with quite high expectations due to a very positive review I had read in my local sailing newspaper. Unfortunately, after reading the first several pages I almost put the book down. The language at the beginning was laborious and over-written, as if a non-writer was trying too hard to be a real writer. The fact that she states herself to have been an anti-establishment, non-shaving, environmentalist vegetarian when she had her Sofian adventure also made me leery to continue. I am no social conservative but I am too old to enjoy the writings of generally judgmental idealists. The only reason I kept reading was because I really wanted to hear about the Sofia sailing experience and her tragic sinking. Fortunately, the author's writing got a lot better and she turned out not to be as irritating as I had begun to fear. She wrote that this book is based quite a lot on letters she wrote home over the 3-plus years she was a regular Sofian crewmember. I think these letters provided the base for the majority of the book and so the majority of the book was written well and in a natural way that was also entertaining. Her character came through as solid, life-loving and very accepting of others, contrary to what I had first feared. Her observations about her crewmates and her travels were very interesting and had the right amount of humor. She was also very informative about the technicalities of sailing a tallship without getting too bogged down for non-sailing readers. She was very honest about the people she crewed with, about herself and about the sinking. In other words, this is an enjoyable travelog and the only one available about this unique ship and its last trip so I am grateful she made the great effort of writing a book.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Bricker on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came across this story of the Sofia because a sailing friend of mine, upon whose story my own second novel Waves: A Novel by Dave Bricker is modeled, had an encounter with the ship in the Caribbean during the 1970s. Though my account of that meeting is highly fictionalized (and as yet unpublished - look for "Currents" towards the end of 2011), I became intrigued with the story, and purchased this book to supplement my research.

I cruised a small sailboat solo during the 80s and 90's, and though my own story is quite different from Pam Bitterman's, I can appreciate any book that approaches seafaring authentically. Times have changed not only for tall ships, but for cruisers in general. There was a magic "golden age" of cruising that took place at the end of the twentieth century before "yachting" became a sport of the rich. "Shoestring sailors" odd-jobbing their way around the globe are fewer and farther between these days, and the remarkable stories of those people, places and times are worth telling. As a University professor, I see the concept of "just going" to be sadly inconceivable to young people today. That, in itself, is an important message. Likewise, if you go sailing, you'll have the best and worst times of your life. Sailing to the Far Horizon neither glosses over the seasickness, heat, dampness and hard work nor dwells on the almost unbelievably profound beauty of the best of the experience. It's measured and balanced.

Though some have accused Bitterman of overwriting, there is a great tradition of Victorian seafaring literature by Conrad, Melville, Dana et al. As a sailor on a tall ship, it's only natural to write with some extra flourish.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bryan J. Matlen on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly amazing adventure written by a courageous author who dared to take a risk and sail across the world. Composed mostly of journal entries, the book is written in an honest style that paints the picture of the long voyage out at sea and the hardships its crew endured during its sinking. Overall, I appreciated the honest style in which the book was written and the truthful accounts from the journal entries. The book not only told the story in writing, but conveyed it through its sincerity. I was captivated from the beginning to end, but especially during the end... during the sinking, the aftermath, and dealing with the loss. The accounts of the Sofia and what her crew faced were both fascinating and heartfelt, and they portrayed a vivid picture of what life was like on that tall ship. Whether you're young or old, the theme of the book is applicable to all. I will forever keep the the story of the Sofia and it's crew with me and will heed the advice of the author who once said to "have an adventure wherever you can."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Nathanson on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Sisman's book is a thrilling account recalling the rich tradition of 19th century nautical fiction and travelogues of Melville and Dana, or the rich evocative canvasses of Turner. Like so many restless wanderers in search of themselves, Pamela's memoirs recount an epic journey to exotic ports of call and encounters with people who, without the trappings of our 21st century mall-saturated American culture, manage to maintain serenity, sanity and dignity. At the same time, the book recalls the 70's and the youthful quests all but lost to the "Baby Boom" generation.

I recommend this book to anyone who's fascinated with the sea, with travel articles and memoirs, and to anyone who has ever suffered a traumatic experience and lived to move on. I'd welcome a sequel about the reunion of the crew, should this be possible.

Gripping, descriptive, yet embued with both nostalgia and horror, "Sailing" riveted me from start to tragic finish.

S.Nathanson,

Valley Stream, NY
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