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White Squall : The Last Voyage Of Albatross Paperback – January 1, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

He has written a vivid, dramatic account about the ship's final, fatal voyage. His own experience was particularly harrowing. -- Captain Christopher B. Sheldon, Brigantine Albatross

From the Author

Back in 1960 I answered an ad in Yachting Magazine, placed by The Ocean Academy Ltd. owned and operated by Christopher B. Sheldon, Ph.D., and N. Alice Sheldon, MD. They wanted a teacher of English for a nine-month voyage on the school ship Albatross, a square-rigged brig to be crewed by teen-aged students. The Sheldons expected to sail through the Caribbean, transit the Panama Canal, then spend a month or more in the Galapagos Islands before returning to their home port of Mystic, Conn. I was 35 years old, teaching English at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., when I answered the ad. I was determined to sail on Albatross's first schooling voyage even if obliged to resign from Stetson. Fortunately, an understanding dean and department head allowed me a leave of absence. As many readers no doubt know, the first schooling voyage of Albatross was also her last. This is the tale of that voyage. I wrote most of it in the middle '60s, then put it aside for the interim. The film White Squall engendered fresh interest in the Albatross voyage, even though the film was more Hollywood parody than fact. Readers of this volume will acquire a more realistic understanding of the people and events involved. I am indebted to travel writer Janet Groene for her interest in this book. She read it, liked it and recommended it to one of her publishers. Without her efforts on my behalf, the manuscript would remain in a box beneath my desk, where it had been for more than three decades. Richard E. Langford

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Bristol Fashion Publications, Inc. (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892216361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892216366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Newton on April 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The reviewers leave the impression that the movie White Squall was based on this book. In fact it was based on the 1962 book _The Last Voyage of the Albatross_ by Charles (Chuck) Gieg and Felix Sutton. It is a shame the book wasn't reprinted as it is a great account. If you can find a used copy it is a great coming of age adventure story.
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Format: Paperback
White Squall: The Last Voyage of Albatross, is the true story that was the inspiration for the 1996 movie by the same name staring Jeff Bridges.
For more than three decades Richard Langford's story of the last voyage of the brigantine Albatross laid silently beneath his desk, almost as long at the ship herself has laid beneath the sea. In 1960 Langford answered an ad for an English teaching job on a square-rigged sailing vessel, the brigantine Albatross. Thus began a journey that would change his life.
In his story we meet the real Captain and crew of Albatross and sail with them across the Carribean and Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal and to the Galapagos Islands. The school ship Albatross was crewed by inexperienced teenaged students. Captain Christopher Sheldon, Ph.D. and his wife Alice Sheldon, M.D. started the Ocean Academy believing that the ship and the sea would be better teachers than any school on land. On their return trip home, after almost a year at sea, nature tested what they had learned.
As your turn the pages of this book, you'll long to reach out for a nautical chart to see where Albatross is and where her crew is going. Langford's descriptions of the many islands, coves and beaches along the way will get sand in your shoes as you feel the gentle sea breeze on your face.
Read this book with some vacation time, because when you're done you'll want to explore some of the many ports of call Albatross visited. Like Peter Island near Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands "where we enjoyed our first powder-soft Carribean beach, gin-clear water, light yellow sand and coconut trees that looked as if they had been painted on a wide canvas."
"The Caribbean," Langford writes "is a photographer's paradise.
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Having watched parts of "White Squall" on TV several times, I didn't really understand the intensity of the movie until I watched it completely. Since it was a true story I did some internet research and ran into this book written by one of the crew on that voyage. So I thought I would read it.

Overall, I wasn't impressed. It does exactly what it says it will which is give you a general overview of the cruise and what happened on it. But the most critical event, the tragedy at sea, is covered in just a few pages. Basically, "we got close to a storm and the next thing you know, we sank." Now, obviously I'm generalizing. But that's how it felt. And previous to that, there is really nothing compelling to report. There are mentions of a diversity of age of students and maybe that was a mistake as they had to let some immature passengers off early. Also, I was disappointed that there wasn't a more significant update of the remainder of the captain's life. Overall, I thought the movie was fine but this book was not worth the read. You be the judge.
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I know that sounds harsh, but it's accurate. "White Squall" is an interesting movie, but the book by Mr. Langford is dull. It's 103 small pages (117 minus 14 pages of bland photos), so there's nothing to reading it, but it's almost boring to read. This is by no means a novel, it's a story where you're dropped into the time and place and then everything proceeds from there, all described at a shallow level. There's no background information on the boys (or the skipper and his wife, for that matter), nothing that really makes you care what happens, nothing that points to why the people behave, or events transpire, as they do.

Details on the mechanics of sailing are almost totally absent, as are details about the Albatross itself. I sail, and I enjoy reading about sailing; I also enjoy coming-of-age stories where people are thrown together and, through shared experiences, form a bond; you get none of that with this story. It's all along the lines of "This happened, we saw that, we moved on, two weeks later we were here, and we saw this and that."

The book has the attribute of being true (where the movie is apparently only loosely based on the actual events, and most everything else is fictionalized): that's about all it has going for it. All of the beauty of bluewater sailing, the hard and often dangerous work of crewing a boat, the day-to-day interaction of the boat's crew, all of that's missing.

If you want to say, "I read the book, I know the real story" (not that there's much difference in the sequence of events between the book and the movie), then have at it. If you want to enjoy the story, buy/rent/view the movie. The Amazon description promises "Readers of this volume will acquire a more realistic understanding of the people and events involved.
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