I read this
book because I’ve always been fascinated by books about life aboard ships, and I thought it would be interesting to hear how it worked
out with a real, contemporary family.
That part was interesting, although it’s mostly from the
mother’s point of view, so you wonder how well it meshes with what
the children would have said. The short version is that the kids,
especially the oldest one, were grumpy about leaving their friends
and toys behind at first, but then settled down to become
amazingly adult crew members.
What was more interesting was the description of the night they
were shipwrecked on the coral reef, with the father’s leg having
been practically amputated by the mast falling on it.
And probably the best-written section in the whole book is the
one comparing their shipwreck experience with the shipwreck in
almost exactly the same place in 1855.
Some things I thought while reading the book:
- Definitely not very good “experience of alcoholism” writing
— there’s description of the family reaction to the idea of the
father taking a drink, but no description of why this would be
something to worry about.
- The area where the shipwreck happened had been mapped by the
Bounty under Captain Bligh. Both the 1855 and the 2005
shipwrecks occurred when the captains believed they were 16
miles away from the atoll. It’s apparently possible to believe
that the chart was compiled with an error by the disaffected
crew of the Bounty that has never been corrected. (John
Silverwood thinks it’s more likely that some of his electronic
equipment didn’t work quite the way it was supposed to, but he
still likes to think about the other possibilities.)
- I still don’t really know why you aren’t supposed to go to
sleep when you’ve been losing a lot of blood. I spent several
hours with Bonnie once when she was hemorrhaging, and the
doctors and nurses thought it was important for her, and John
Silverwood’s family and the medical personnel who rescued him
tried hard to keep him awake. After the fact, he denies that he
was ever unconscious, but you apparently could have fooled all
the people closest to him.
- It was hard to stay oriented in time — a timeline or even
just some dates on the map in the front of the book would have
It’s a pretty quick read, and I enjoyed it in spite of some
flaws, so you might, too.