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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

The Chronicles of the Schooner Lusty 1

This book came direct from author Mike Williams in northern Thailand. The Chronicles of the Schooner Lusty 1 (ISBN 974-94170-9-7, Craftsman Press, printed in Thailand 2007) is a report on the lives of several young men and women who sailed around the world in an old wooden schooner called Lusty 1. Mike Williams writes that the impetus came from his university mate Terry Anderson who posed the question, “Michael, why don’t we buy a boat and sail around the world?” Both almost footloose and fancy free, the answer had to be “Why not?” and so they began a six year adventure.
Very quickly, author Mike Williams introduces you to the escapade, as by P 13 they had had a collision with a bridge and broke one of their masts, and by P 29, almost lost a man overboard. But they persevered.
Many of the chapters relate not just to the sailing, but also to the problems encountered entering national boundaries, and leaving them. The book shows that dropping anchor in some tropical bay is not so simple or idyllic. There might be wahines for pleasure, but there are always petty officials ready for displeasure. More than once, the Lusty 1 had to do a midnight cruise, never to return.
I enjoyed the fact that the author Mike Williams gave us much more than just a ship’s log of places visited. You do get a clear picture of life in foreign lands (or should that be seas?) as it was then - 30 years ago. It has changed I believe, but haven’t we all?
What was even more interesting for this landlubber were the pen sketches of the main protagonists in this fight against the accepted norms. People of different backgrounds and abilities, but in reality held together, not by a love of the sea, but by a love of individuality, something I can relate to.
The Chronicles of the Schooner Lusty 1 certainly chronicles the activities of some lusty lads over six years of sailing, plus a catch-up towards the end of the book, where the author mentions what happened to some of them. For those with a sense of adventure, it will probably be a disappointment to find that most of them settled down into the humdrum of the 9-5, wife and 2.4 children, despite the free and easy time before the mast. This was because for many, that time was actually not so free, not so easy, and there is always a price to pay for hedonism.
As a read, it is a lusty and enjoyable romp, and anyone who has ever hankered after doing something totally different will enjoy it. I did, even though I have never wanted to be a sailor (and still don’t), but I recognized the need for personal expression that drove the young men (and women) to becoming sailors. It did not then surprise me that author Mike Williams eventually ended up in Thailand, “the land of the free”.
There is also a glossary of sailing terms at the back of the book, for the land-bound! Good value at B. 695.