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.
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"A seaman himself, Lundy interpolates his own experiences under sail, nicely contrasting modern-day standards and mindsets with 19th-century conditions and attitudes" ( The Times)
"Lundy, too, has saltwater in his blood and his knowledge of the most arcane seafaring terms and traditions, coupled with careful research on 19th-century square-rigger voyages, makes this a tremendously elucidating, frequently thrilling read-he writes with verve and authority" ( Sunday Telegraph)
"With this book Lundy leaps into the front ranks of maritime historians" ( Sunday Times)
"An exceptionally rich and satisfying weave. Hoisting sail aboard his ship Beara Head in 1885, Lundy sails her on an enthralling voyage through maritime literature, history, sociology and folklore... Heir to the tradition of Dana, Melville and Conrad" (Jonathan Raban)
"Excellent... Lundy has researched the subject deeply and writes about it with feeling... Powerful, convincing and enthralling" ( Times Literary Supplement)
'Destined to become a classic of the seas' - Eric Newby
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