Friday, May 10, 2019

Review: Black Wave: A Family's Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them

Black Wave: A Family's Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them by John and Jean Silverwood is made up of two interleaving stories. The first catalog's a family's 2 year adventure at sea, as they trade in their 'normal' California lifestyle for one aboard a 55 foot sailboat. The second is the blow-by-blow account of how the family's trip came to a close: with a catastrophic shipwreck. Generally, I like this approach of flipping back and forth; the former story gave me plenty to think about, while the latter was as riveting a tale as one could ask for.

One of my super powers is the ability to find the good in situations. If you tell me that you car has broken down and you don't have the funds to repair it, I'm libel to start listing off reasons why this is the best news ever. You'll get to walk to work! What a wonderful way to get fit. And you could probably do a bit of meditation along the way. Or better yet, for a few bucks, take the bus. You can challenge yourself to write a couple of pages in that novel you've always to write, and before you know it, you'll be a published author! Yeah, it's all very annoying. The point is, if you tell me that you're taking your family on a 2 year sailing adventure, I'm, well, on board. I'll see all the ways it can go right. So your kids won't get traditional schooling those years, or play soccer or have typical friendships? Whatever. They'll get so much more.

To the Silverwood's credit, they lay it all out in the book. Yes, they include many stories that highlight benefits of their sailing lifestyle. But they also talk about the challenges, disappointments and failures too. The book is especially open about John's alcoholism and how it impacted the family. For someone like myself who tends to see just upside, I so appreciated seeing these shades of gray.

As for the shipwreck story, wow. Let's just say it makes me glad I carry a tourniquet and Garmin InReach Mini when we're out adventuring. Again, kudos to the Silverwood's for being so open about how the sinking of their boat unfolded. As to be expected, there are moments of absolute heroism, but there are also moments that a more sanitized telling would leave out.

I listened to the audio version of the book and when I was done, I searched the web for the incident. Sure enough, the Silverwood's story had been covered in a number of news outlets and there were even pictures of the wreck:

Seeing pictures of the disaster really drove this home: this wasn't some fictionalized account; these were real people who were in a very real fight for their survival.

Finally, as the audio book wrapped up, I had another new experience. The narrator announced: End Book One. Wait, what? There's more 'books'? Now that I've written this review, I can consider myself having fully digested book one and I'll start the next volume. I can't imagine what else there is to say about Silverwood's adventure. But I suppose I'm going to have to listen to book two to find out.

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