Synopses & Reviews
With the heart of a novelist and the salty blood of a sailor, Dallas Murphy gives a rousing account of one of the most treacherous and storied spots on earth.
For as far back as he can remember, Dallas Murphy has been sea-struck. Since he began to read, "besotted by salt-water dreams and nautical language," he studied the lore surrounding a place of mythic proportions: the ever-alluring Cape Horn. And after years of dreaming and sailing he finally made his voyage there. In this lively, thrilling blend of history, geography, and modernday adventure, Murphy shows how the myth crossed wakes with his reality.
Cape Horn is a buttressed pyramid of crumbly rock situated at the very bottom of South America 55 degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West. It's a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty, one that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antractic peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and it's a place where the storms are bigger, the winds stronger, the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth.
Rounding the Horn is the ultimate maritime rite of passage, and in Murphy's hands, it becomes a thrilling, exuberant tour. Weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with long-lost tales of those who braved the Cape before him from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook and interspersed with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness, the result is a beautifully crafted, immensely enjoyable read.
"Even landlubbers may recognize Cape Horn as the Americas' southernmost tip. Between this crag of rock and Antarctica lies the Drake Passage, whose waters are the planet's most consistently violent. Of a trip through these latitudes, sailors warned, 'Below 40 South there is no law, below 50 South there is no God.' Murphy, a mystery writer and nautical journalist, sailed there from Ushuaia, Argentina, in a 53-foot sloop and carefully points out that he only visited the island rather than sailing around it. He revels in the tales of those who made the entire trip, however, and spends much time vividly recounting their adventures, found in old books with thrilling titles like The World Encompassed and A Two Years' Cruise off Tierra Del Fuego. Nautical buffs will find some of these yarns familiar: Darwin's South American voyages aboard HMS Beagle were the subject of last fall's Evolution's Captain, by Peter Nichols, and Murphy's version adds little to the story beyond subtle interpretive differences. Another chapter touches upon the U.S. Navy's South Seas Exploring Expedition, chronicled at length by Nathaniel Philbrick in Sea of Glory (also published last fall). Yet such narrative retreads are offset by the details of Murphy's own voyage (his desire to explore almost set off an international incident with the Chilean government). As exciting as Murphy's historical yarns are, it's always a treat to return to him and his crew as they brave the elements at the end of the earth. Maps. Agent, Loretta Barrett. (May) Forecast: Murphy's book may appeal to readers of the aforementioned books by Nichols and Philbrick. Basic will send Murphy on a tour and will run print ads and an NPR feature campaign." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[V]ivid prose...[Murphy] makes readers experience the island wilderness as if firsthand....The book will interest those looking for an adventure but too frightened to actually make the trip." George Cohen, Booklist
"[Cape Horn] takes on a surprisingly complex and unromantic identity in Rounding the Horn. As he sails out to the forlorn rock with modern-day adventurers who happily make these dangerous waters home, Dallas Murphy interweaves his own experiences with the Horn's bloody 500-year history....Murphy's Cape Horn may be rounded, but it can never be forgotten."
John Rousmaniere, author of After the Storm, Force 10, and The Annapolis Book of Seamanship
"I have just finished reading Rounding the Horn and have thoroughly enjoyed the whole aquatic adventure. Dallas Murphy is a master of the salty yarn. His history is spliced with a Roaring Forties imagination, and his passion for wild water infects every page with tremendous energy. This is both an evocation of extreme sailing, and a terrible, poignant account of two cultures clashing at the end of the earth." Nicholas Crane, author of Mercator: The Man Who Mapped the Planet
In this lively, thrilling blend of history, geography and modern day adventure, Murphy recounts his journey to Cape Horn after many "sea-struck" years of studying its lore.
About the Author
Dallas Murphy is a novelist, essayist, and journalist. Four of his books featuring the hard-boiled sleuth Artie Deamer were recently optioned by Columbia Tristar Television. He has written about sailing for Offshore Magazine, Sail, Sailing, Cruising World, Yachting World, and Outside. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
List of Maps ix
1 From Ushuaia to Puerto Williams 1
2 Sea-Struck 23
3 Wind 39
4 Discovering Seas 51
5 Drake 73
6 From Puerto Williams to Caleta Martial 95
7 A Glorious Failure 115
8 Discovering People 131
9 FitzRoy's Fuegians 145
10 "Too Much Skylark!" 159
11 Back Home Again 175
12 To Cape Horn 197
13 From Hermite to Duck 215
14 The Death and Life of the British Isles 237
15 How to Round Cape Horn 253
16 The Undiscovered Land 267
17 A Fjord for the Naming 283
18 The Martyrs Insisted 295
19 At Wulaia 315
20 "The Wet and Cold Life" 329