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Description - The Way of a Ship by Derek Lundy

Benjamin Lundy crossed oceans under sail in the late nineteenth century and over one hundred years later Derek Lundy, his great-great nephew, has re-created that journey. In The Way of a Ship he places Benjamin on board the Beara Head with a community of fellow seamen as they perform the exhausting and dangerous work of sailing a square-rigger across the Atlantic and round Cape Horn. Derek Lundy adorns his story of an extraordinary journey with a profound knowledge of the sea and sailing, and reminds us that the ocean voyage under sail is an overarching metaphor for life itself.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099286622
ISBN-10: 0099286629
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 129mm x 32mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jul-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Way of a Ship by Derek Lundy

UK Kirkus Review » This is a book that doesn't really fit into any genre: part biography, part fiction, part history, it uses the story of the author's great-great-uncle Benjamin Lundy to recreate for the modern reader the experience of life aboard a ship in the 19th century. Benjamin Lundy went to sea in the 1880s, a time when life as a merchant seaman meant starvation rations, constant hard toil, physical punishment for minor misdemeanours and the possibility, or even likelihood, of death from disease or drowning. The author, fascinated by the rigours his ancestor must have faced, wanted to write an account of his life, but found that there was too little information about Benjamin's life to do so. Instead, he decided to put Benjamin on an imaginary boat, a square-rigger called the Beara Head, and used the knowledge he had of 19th-century ships to reconstruct a voyage across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn. It makes for an engrossing read. The lives of men aboard a sailing ship 120 years ago is so far removed from modern experience that it leaves the reader incredulous that such conditions were allowed. The brutality of life at sea was such that men had to be press-ganged, unwillingly, into service by groups of men paid by the ship's owners to find recruits. Once at sea, there was no escape. The fierce weather was one of the worst things the men had to endure, but their lives were made much worse than they needed to be by the callous disregard of the ship's owners for their well-being. Long after the cause of scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) was discovered, men were still fed a narrow and unappetizing diet of pea soup, heavily salted meat and dry biscuits, often infected with weevils. Management on board ship was often vicious, and whippings were commonplace. Lundy intersperses the accounts of the Beara Head's imaginary voyage with historical information, such as the gradual replacing of sailing ships by steamers, the shocking tale of how the discovery of a cure for scurvy was ignored by scientists and the relative problems of building ships from wood and from iron. It's absorbing stuff, and will be enjoyed not just by those interested in the technical details of how sailing ships work (though there's plenty of that) but by anyone who is curious about how people lived and worked only just over a century ago. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Derek Lundy

Derek Lundy is an experienced amateur sailor. A lawyer by training and a writer by profession, he has published four books, including the international bestseller Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters. He lives in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

Books By Derek Lundy

Men That God Made Mad by Derek Lundy
Paperback, April 2010
Godforsaken Sea by Derek Lundy
Paperback, June 2000