A Square-Rigger Voyage in the Last Days of Sail.
Derek Lundy is a magnificent storyteller and in this book he takes us on an extraordinary journey. His ancestor Benjamin Lundy crossed oceans under sail in the late nineteenth century and over one hundred years later his great-great nephew has re-created that journey.
In 'The Way Of A Ship' he places Benjamin on board the "Beara Head" with a community of fellow seamen as they perform the exhausting and dangerous work of sailing a square-rigger across the Atlantic and round Cape Horn.
These "beautiful, widow-making, deep-sea" ships represented near technological perfection. They could move fast in almost all weather and carry huge cargos. But they demanded much of the men who sailed in them. Life at sea was a brutal and unforgiving business.
Fed on a diet of pea soup, gristly salt horse, rock hard weevil-invested biscuits and just enough lemon to keep scurvy at bay, the seamen were dangerously malnourished and sleep-deprived. But their instinct was to give their all through the battering, screaming winds. The equation was simple: they would survive if the ship survived and so they fought to save the ship.
As Benjamin Lundy nears the Horn and its attendant terrors, the traditional qualities of the sailor - fatalism, stoicism, courage and unquestioning obedience to a strict authority - are revealed with all their necessary and unrelenting force.
This is a powerful and enlightening tale and, like Melville and Conrad before him, Derek Lundy adorns his story with a profound knowledge of the sea and sailing and reminds us that the ocean voyage under sail is an overarching metaphor for life itself.