The Lonely Sea and the Sky, by Francis Chichester
Published by Pan Books Ltd, 1985
Genres: Nonfiction, autobiography, travel, adventure
An oldie but a goodie! I borrowed this book from my Dad, at his recommendation, and it was great!! I love travel writing, and adventure, and autobiographies, and this just had everything!
In the years before the Second World War, Francis Chichester had some remarkable adventures: he single-handedly flew from England to Australia, was the first person to fly solo across the Tasman Sea (between New Zealand and Australia), with very limited navigation equipment. Later, he also sailed solo across the Atlantic, twice!!
If someone attempted these feats today, it probably wouldn’t be a very big deal at all, with modern technology and navigation equipment, it would be a much less daunting prospect. But it is very hard to imagine what Chichester experienced throughout his incredible adventures. I won’t tell you much more in detail, because the stories are so unbelievable that I think you should discover them for yourselves!
What I will say, is that Chichester writes as if these were simple little journeys, no big deal. And all the challenges and obstacles he faced along the way were nothing compared to the joy of being completely alone in his plane or his boat.
He readily admitted that, once back from one of his adventures, he found himself not very well suited to “regular” life and longed for another voyage or challenge to make him feel alive again.
This was a very inspiring and interesting book, although there is a lot of navigation, aviation and sailing terminology which, for the most part, escaped me and left me very confused. But Chichester’s writing is so clear and without fuss that you do not need to know and understand all these complicated terms to be able to follow along on his adventures and be awed and inspired by them!