This is an inspiring story and it holds the reader from the first page.
Good books inform and entertain. This is a good book.
NAME: Over The Top
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Adrian Flanagan
PUBLISHER: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Orion
BINDING: Hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Russian Northern Sea Route, NSR, single-handed
sailing, circumnavigation, Barrabas, Cape Horn Proliv Vil’kit-
skogo, Murmansk, Nome, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, pirates,
Provideniya, Ostrov peschanyy, Ostrov Bol’shoy Begichev, Os-
trov Preobrazheniya, Tiksi, East Siberian Islands
Good books inform and entertain. This is a good book. The author is a writer who embarked on an extraordinary adventure. The result is a well-written book. The adventure was the first attempt to complete a vertical or bi-polar circumnavigation by sea. The idea took root while the author was a teenager. The events of life conspired to delay the adventure for three decades. Many have a dream, see it delayed and never pluck up the courage to make it happen. Flanagan sets the scene with a brief and readable background to his life before the adventure. The task he set himself was considerable. He had to acquire the necessary skills of seamanship, find and equip a suitable boat and then sail his dream. That would have been a serious challenge for a novice sailor, but he planned a course that would tax the most experienced yachtsmen. It involved sailing from the South Coast of England, down through the Atlantic, past the Falkland Islands, round Cape Horn against prevailing wind and currents, north through the Pacific to the Bering Strait and then along the Russian northern coast, round the top of Norway and down the North Sea to the English Channel and back to Southampton Water. The preparation was compressed into less than a year and the expedition was largely funded by mortgaging his home and using all his savings. The voyage was full of extreme tests, not least in obtaining the first permission from the Russian Government for a single-handed sailor to transit the Russian Northern Sea Route. Flanagan’s ex-wife worked tirelessly as shore-based expedition manager to provide the resources and permissions that were essential to the circumnavigation. Along the way many people stepped forward to provide assistance and the author has acknowledged this vital support. It is an extraordinary and unique story of an ordinary person who achieved the impossible through determination and the acceptance of help when it was offered. The voyage contrasts with the heavily sponsored horizontal circumnavigations that are today common place and where incredibly expensive racing yachts are sailed by crews and solo sailors in races and speed record attempts. The author’s yacht was extraordinary, being built from exotic materials, but at 38 feet it was very similar to the yachts sailed by hundreds of families, and purchased second hand. The modification and preparation of the yacht was largely carried out by the author to stretch out limited funds. This is an inspiring story and it holds the reader from the first page.