Updated: Aug 5
Commitment and Open Crossings tells the story of three friends who embarked on the first circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland in the 1980s. It is a tale of endurance in the face of immense challenges, and courage in the face of adversity. That said, the writer's style is a bit dense with several sections being little more than summaries of place names, time of day, direction of the tide, and weather conditions. Oftentimes I felt tedium with the repetitiveness of the story and found myself skipping whole paragraphs. As a paddler myself, I know that such things are what occupy most of your mind in the day to day of an expedition, but I as a reader, I would have liked to read more about his insights into himself, his fellow paddlers and the different people he met along the way so we could know more about the personalities of the characters in the story and how they might have changed during the journey. This would develop a clearer theme about the story.
His descriptions and maps of particularly challenging sections of the journey are very useful, should you ever paddle in the same locations. He gives insights about the weather conditions, tides, that specific rapids and headlands approaches, how certain crossings should be tackled, and where good put out points can be found.
One of the interesting things about the book to the modern reader is to see how kayaking has changed since the 1980s. In those days it was common to find yourself disoriented by fog and bad weather, mistake a headland or put out location, or not realize that you have drifted much more than expected. Communication with family and ground support was hit or miss depending on whether there was a local landline, and accurate up to date weather forecasts were a luxury.
Overall this is a decent read which will be appreciated by any expedition paddler who has embarked on a multiday journey or who might be paddling through the same locations visited by the author.
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