Small Boat to Freedom

To take my mind off my problems l like to read about other people’s problems and their solutions. Besides, l had always wanted to undertake a long voyage in a small sailboat ever since l read in high school how Kenichi Hori sailed from Japan to San Francisco shortly after WW2. However, l followed the same road as many such dreamers have, marriage and children tend to end such dreams. John Vigor, his wife June and 17 year old son Kevin, lived in South Africa during apartheid….


Although not supporters of apartheid, their house was graffitied by terrorists. The story unfolds about how the family had to overcome political, social and financial hurdles in order to make a new life in the USA. Their courage is understated yet it is clear that their decision was not an easy one. However, once the decision was made, they stuck to their plan and finally succeeded.

One thing I particularly enjoyed is the way John describes the places they called into. He tells something of the history of each place as well as their current experiences. I enjoyed how he compares their voyage with some of the intrepid voyagers of the past. John does not overwhelm the reader with technical details, although there are enough of these to satisfy the real sailors as well as those of the armchair variety. It is refreshing that John allows us into his emotional state. Many such tales omit to examine negative aspects such as how violently a small boat moves at sea, the effects of seasickness and fear, and the uncertainty of how they will be received at the end of the journey.

All in all it is a good read, with a happy ending….. And that is how it should be.


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