The author has taken his father’s classic book, Survive the Savage Sea, about their family’s survival when their boat was sunk by killer whales during a Pacific crossing, and added his own account. He also tells the story of the 18-month voyage through the Atlantic, Caribbean and Panama Canal that preceded the shipwreck. This is a fascinating read ?Latitudes & Attitudes
Thirty-two years ago, British sailor Dougal Robertson published a first-hand account of his family’s experience on a sailing voyage around the world. This was not however, a recounting of exotic ports and challenging passages. Rather, it described the horror of shipwreck and how six people in one tiny dinghy survived the perils of the open ocean for 38 days. Robertson’s Survive the Savage Sea became a classic and ultimately Hollywood brought the story to the silver screen in 1992 with Robert Ulrich and Ali McGraw playing Robertson and his wife, Lyn. Still, Robertson believed there was more to share. Before his death in 1991, he asked his eldest son, Douglas, to make sure the family’s saga would be told in its entirety. Enter Douglas Robertson’s book. The Last Voyage of the Lucette. Incorporating most of his father’s original text, Robertson expands the story scope. Drawing from newspaper articles, discussions with family members, Dougal’s notes and his own recollections, he breathes life into every aspect of the Robertson clan journey physically or emotionally from their start in Falmouth England, to their eventual rescue by the Japanese ship Toka Maru roughly 300 miles west of Costa Rica. After struggling with farming for years, Dougal saw an around-the-world voyage as an unparalleled opportunity to educate his four children Douglas, Anne and twins Neil and Sandy and to make up for, as he put it, all those cold nights and empty dinner tables, the holidays they never had and the days when we sent them to school in shoes that didn’t fit. The Robertson’s planned their trip for two years. A 50-year old, 43- foot schooner named LUCETTE became the new family home, and they finally cast off the docklines on January 27, 1971. Part One is an exciting foray into the world of liveaboard cruising as the family sails across the Atlantic to the Windward Islands and the Bahamas, where teenage daughter Anne falls in love and decides not to continue the trip. The pages turn so quickly, it’s effortless to follow along as this colorful family sails onward to Jamaica, the Panama Canal where they take on Welsh traveler Robin to fill Anne’s empty place and the Galapagos. It all comes to a shocking abrupt halt in the morning hours of June 15, 1972, when Lucette is attacked by a pod of orcas. While all six ultimately reached the life raft safely, they are faced with a daunting situation. They are alone on the Pacific Ocean, five weeks from anyone knowing they are missing, well beyond the shipping lanes and they don’t have nearly enough food or water. Part two is a day-by-day account of the shipwrecked family’s time at sea. The Robertson’s story is remarkable in that the group of six had to abandon their deflating life raft and survive aboard the tiny dinghy Ednamair during their 38-day odyssey. ‘It is essentially Dougal’s story,’ his son notes. ‘For his superhuman efforts in getting us all home in one piece, and for giving us those two short years aboard Lucette, I shall thank him every day of my life.’ ?Sailing
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