From the Southern Cross to the North Star is a frank cruising account of sailing the Pacific Ocean. An interesting read, says Julia Jones
From the Southern Cross to the North Star
Carsten and Vinni Breuning
Forlaget Mellemgaard, £35
If this evocative title seems to promise rather more than it geographically performs, blame corona virus.
It’s the second volume to follow Capri – Sailing Distant Seas (2021) in which Vinni and Carsten Breuning recounted their decision to leave their jobs, home and life in Denmark to spend active retirement years exploring the world on their 40’ Jeanneau.
This section of their adventures begins with the opening of the lock gates at the end of the Panama Canal and the emergence of Capri into the Pacific.
They pause briefly at the Pearl Islands – too briefly – and then carry on to the Galapagos.
Officialdom threatens to tarnish the experience but all the same it’s not to be missed.
Six months spent avoiding the hurricane season in Nuku Hiva are describe as six months in a paradise where time moves slowly.
Even in paradise, however, the breakdown of the ice-cube machine is presented, half-humorously, as a major calamity.
Later, when the heads must be removed and replaced Vinni, as narrator, spares the reader little of the unpleasantness.
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The style of narration follows their popular blogposts and varies slightly according to who is telling the tale: Vinni tends to display the more overt mood swings whereas Carsten spends more space sharing factual information.
He writes with deep feeling, however, of the experience of seeing the Southern Cross rising above his spreaders, and his gratitude for this chance to live his boyhood dream.
From the Marquesas they head north to Hawaii and the Society Islands.
It’s Vinni who describes the extraordinary experience of being among humpback whales when they are mating and giving birth.
She shares delightful observations of the mother whales applauding their babies’ first leaps.
From the Southern Cross to the North Star is copiously illustrated with photographs – not all top quality but their snap of the female, on her back, about to give birth, must surely be a rarity.
Vinni and Carsten write in Danish, then translate into English. This is a considerable achievement and only very rarely does their ear for nuance possibly let them down.
I was interested by Vinni’s observation that the analysis of weather systems she found in English language books was noticeably more useful than in Danish.
The plan had been to sail on to Alaska but lockdown caught them in Honolulu.
Their mantra now is ‘We have no plans and by golly we’re going to stick to them!’
From the Southern Cross to the North Star is a substantial paperback and some may think expensive.
It’s also available on Kindle at half the price.
From the Southern Cross to the North Star: Panama to Galapagos to French Polynesia and Hawaii
Price: From £18.47
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