Come Sail With Me is about one woman's experience sailing with a virtual stranger from Spain to South America and then to the Caribbean and the lessons she learned along the way

Come Sail With Me
Wendy Leo-Smith
Amazon £8.41

Wendy Leo-Smith grew up on a farm and was a relatively late entrant to sailing.

By her early forties she’d relocated to Spain and was running her own yacht-cleaning company when she accepted an invitation from a South African named Rory, to sail with him on his fast 12m yacht Zingara.

Their travels took them from Gran Canaria to the Gambia then extensive explorations of the Brazilian coast, including Fernando di Naronel, Rio, Recife, Fortaleza.

Sailing gradually northwards along the South American coast, they lost their hearts to the simplicity of Guyana.

Wendy expresses her feelings about the contrasts they discover.

‘It is hard to comprehend how diverse this cruising life is. A month ago we were living in the heart of one of Brazil’s largest cosmopolitan cities with all modern facilities at our finger tips and now we are living deep in the rail forest with only rivers for roads and very limited civilisation but loving it.’

Her descriptions of the vast Essequibo River are fascinating.

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They were tempted to remain but instead carried on towards Trinidad and the Caribbean, finally returning to southern Spain 13,500 miles and three years after setting out.

It’s an obvious truth that wherever in the world one travels, oneself comes too.

Wendy Leo-Smith, in her forties was carrying a lot of emotional baggage from an early widowhood, a failed marriage and health problems, finally necessitating a hysterectomy.

Her decision to sail with Rory, who she hardly knew was launching herself into a new intimate relationship, involving the two of them (and eventually their cat) managing a lively yacht in difficult conditions.

Her book is written ten years later from diaries she kept at the time.

For some readers this will give an authentic picture of the highs and lows of cruising as a couple: others may find an unwanted level of detail, not only about the personal aspects of their relationship but also trivia – do we care whether they decided not to go swimming or that the steak they ordered hadn’t been delivered?

Some will enjoy this level of immersiveness – as Wendy Leo-Smith says she would have done before she set off.

Clearly she wouldn’t have been deterred and never regretted her decision to persevere, even when the illnesses and ageing of parents on shore were distressing.

She now lives ashore and ends her book with an expression of nostalgia for ‘the unadulterated joy that the simple life of ocean sailing brings’.

The impression left with this reader is that there ain’t no such thing as simplicity or unmixed delight at sea or anywhere else.

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