Julia Jones, Yachting Monthly's literary reviewer discusses Birth of a Solo Sailor by Maik Ulmschneider: "The most lively and unusual bluewater cruiser book that I’ve read this year."

Birth of a Solo Sailor
Maik Ulmschneider
Sailing is Truth £10.58

The most lively and unusual bluewater cruiser book that I’ve read this year.

Maik Ulmschneider’s story – or stories – begin in the autumn of 2019 when he and his partner split up in Suriname (on the north coast of South America) and he was charged with returning her two dogs safely to the USA.

Ulmschneider, from Stralsund in the Baltic, had thus become a solo sailor by default.

His energetic invitation to the reader to become part of the crew on his steel ketch Seefalke extends to chapters where the reader is offered different choices of action, before the author reveals what actually occurred.

The dogs were safely returned to Key West Florida but Ulmschneider’s subsequent locations are more unusual – there’s a strong recommendation for a marina in Cuba and a memorable encounter with Haitian sailors on board their ramshackle wooden trading yacht La Patience.

When the world goes into lockdown Seefalke is anchored in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

His description of the cruising community self-organising in this unprecedented situation deserves a place in the sociology of the sea.

Continues below…

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Later in that extraordinary year the Yucatan peninsula was swept by an unprecedented series of storms.

Once again the essential self-reliance of the singlehanded sailor was buttressed by the immediate readiness of cruisers to help one another.

A trip back to Germany was a less happy experience prompting Ulmschneider to reflect more deeply on what it is that sets the solo sailor apart.

His former period of service in the German navy contributes to the quality of his insights as well as variety of experiences related.

This is a well-presented volume – worth the extra cost for the full-colour version, I’d suggest.

Photographs of the April 2020 supermoon will remain in my mind as well as the louring approach of Storm Sally.

There are no photographs of Hurricane Delta but description from the inside of Seefalke, lashed down in the Makax Lagoon, suffices to record the particular terror of the silent waiting, together with the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish on VHF Channel 16.

I recommend this book for adventures, ideas and writing that are full of vitality and individual thought.

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