Sailing With Impunity, Author Mary Tremble
I will preface my first review of a local author by saying that, thanks to years of both working and going to law school full time, followed by years of seven day work weeks tirelessly spent helping local businesses, I have not had the time or energy to sit down and read a real book. Many of you could probably relate to that last part, and not see it as much of a big deal, so I’ll add that reading has been a major part of my life since I was young. As a child, teen, and formidable young adult, I frequently wore my eyes out to the point of having to wear glasses for months because of it. So, a book review just happening to fall into my lap now couldn’t have been a more welcome experience.
Now, onto the book at hand. Sailing With Impunity follows award-winning Camano Island author Mary E. Trimble on fourteen months sailing voyage across the Pacific. I’m normally not big on memoirs when it comes to books, or documentaries when it comes to TV or movies for that matter. I know, I know, I’m probably missing out, but for me all of these things are less about learning about something, someone, or somewhere, for me, and more about escaping from the everyday into the unusual and unknown (Stephen King has been by far my favorite author). Luckily for me, the journey had by Mary and her husband isn’t your average memoir and once it really gets going, reads as good and exciting as its fiction based counterparts.
This is a fact that is evident before you even begin the first chapter thanks to a prologue that puts you right on the edge of your seat, as Mary’s husband is seemingly swept off the couples sailboat into a tumultuous ocean, then leaves you there not knowing what happens next (sorry to say you won’t find the answer to that in this review either). Now, I would like nothing more than to say that this feeling continues as you make your way into the book itself, but that wouldn’t be entirely true as the first chapter or two is full of technical aspects regarding sailing and sailboats. This might turn some of you off, and it did for me as well because it leaves you feeling that its going to be “that type” of memoir.
If you press on though, it becomes more and more apparent that those technical aspects might be something entirely different. At some point you begin to see them as part of Mary’s personal journey, her proudly asserting and showing off all that she had learned about something once unusual and unknown to her. Shortly thereafter, that edge of your seat feeling begins to return as the end of Chapter Two and the couples departure date creeps closer and closer. As their nervousness and excitement grows so does yours and the enormity of what they are about to do becomes very real. These are two people who sold their home, sold all of their possessions, and left their job all to follow a dream. It is the kind of thing all of us wish we could do at one time or another, I for one am certainly a bit green with envy.
I say that knowing full well the struggles and hard times that one must face in doing so, both of which Mary does a beautiful job in conveying as the Impunity sets sail and journey’s down the West Coast. You are right there experiencing the learning curve and adjustments as things prove more difficult than planned, when it seems like the dream might not actually be all that it is cracked up to be, and you are right there anxious and worried as the couple braves and holds each other through the first of many patches of rough sea. As they push on into the South Pacific, however, the tone as well as the weather shifts, you finally get to see Mary and Bruce’s dream becoming a reality.
As they hop from island to island the reader is treated to all kinds of adventures, once again leaving you a bit green with envy. From days spent sailing alongside dolphins and nights spent stargazing both up above in the night sky and in the waters reflection below, to experiencing different cultures, art, and architecture on distant shores, Mary brings you along for the ride and paints vivid pictures of what it must have all been like in your mind.
Perhaps more vivid is the relationships found throughout the memoir, most notably between Mary and Bruce themselves. I don’t know about you, but fourteen months spent out at sea with someone, no matter how close I am to them, would probably be a nightmare, but these two made it look easy. Their support of each other, and the lengths they went, and seemed willing to go, to in order to see each other follow their dreams should be commended. If not that, then for the way they seemed to spend fourteen months in close quarters, through the ups and downs without arguing or getting on each other’s nerves. I just might have to ask Mary if that was in fact the case, and if so, why those moments were excluded, as I for one would have liked to see it all, if nothing else than to warn me off spending 14 months on a boat with my significant other. I’m fairly confident one of us most likely wouldn’t return. My vote would be on that being me.
Beyond themselves, there are also passing relationships between the couple and others they meet along their journey, including fellow boaters from around the world and island natives. It was refreshing to see so many people from different places, backgrounds, and cultures, coming together not only to help each other but to enrich each others lives and experiences, except for the would be pirates, better known as local youth with sticky fingers, and government officials who put their own interests above their laws that is. I can’t leave out how some of those relationships rang close to home and proved that, even in such a large ocean, it really is a small world after all (yep, I went Disney on that one, it seemed appropriate).
As the Impunity’s journey takes the couple towards home, both you and they are left wondering what lies ahead. What does one do after one’s dream has in fact been followed and completed? For Mary, the answer should have been expected, but oddly was one I didn’t see coming until the very end. I’m guessing you are also probably still wondering about the whole man overboard thing, which, again, I’m going to leave you hanging on. To be honest, regardless of how that particular part of the journey plays out, what you are left with is one heck of a tale, and a memoir that is worth reading.
For me, technical speak, adventures, and relationships aside, Sailing With Impunity was worth reading if for nothing more than the little bits of surprise humor randomly dusted across the pages by Mary. The idea, and images in my mind, of her storing away two years worth of bulky feminine products on board, cooking spectacularly despite constant rocking, and taking bowl showers were more than enough to keep me reading, the rest was just icing on the cake.
I would highly recommend both this memoir, as well as Mary’s tale of her Peace Corps service in Africa. I must admit, I myself am interested in knowing more about her worldly adventures. Perhaps that is because I myself have never left the country, other than Canada that is (I’m not sure that really counts when one lives so close to it). If, like me, memoirs are not your thing, not to worry. Mary also dabbles in a bit of fiction, so she’s got you and I covered. You can find out more about the author and her work HERE, as well as catch her reviews of others work on her blog.
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