I looked forward to reading this, the latest offering by the renowned sailing author and it did not disappoint. Rod Heikell, known as “Rod the God”, will be familiar to anyone who has sailed in Mediterranean waters for his very comprehensive and well researched Pilot books.
I thoroughly enjoyed this easy to read book recounting two passages that he took in the 70s and 80s with a companion. The first one was in an old 20 foot boat Roulette, which was sailed from the UK to Greece. One wonders how they managed with no electrics or battery and with a Tilley lamp for light and heat. A lead line was used to measure depth and there were no navigation lights or modern navaids. The second passage was on an equally old but smaller 18 foot Mirror Offshore boat Rozinante, which they managed to navigate along the length of the Danube to Turkey; this boat was also minimally equipped.
Both trips are described in a way that takes the reader there and the many amusing anecdotes are a delight. It is interesting to read about the mistakes he made and the problems he encountered. The one that I remember best is when he first left the UK and went the wrong way in the Channel despite taking regular compass readings. This showed the perils of installing a steel tiller bracket too close to the compass and not realising it voided the deviation card which had been completed prior to the bracket being installed. Rod also describes the seasickness he suffered when he started sailing, which gives me hope!
The help he got from locals in most places he visited on these passages was truly amazing even down to making a new stern tube for free in Czechoslovakia. His experiences in Romania were an eye opener to him as to how the people existed under Ceausescu when they had so little. There are a few black and white photographs but these are in keeping with the era.
His description of being an ‘accidental sailor’ sprung from a visit to the River Danube which fuelled a lifelong passion for that river and after these two passages, for sailing in general.
This is a recommended light read for anyone with an interest in sailing.
Taniwha Press UK; £9.50; 2013