Julia Jones, Yachting Monthly's literary reviewer discusses Salt in the Blood: Two Philosophers go to Sea about two empty-nesters with successful, stressful careers who decided to experiment with life as part-time nautical nomads
Salt in the Blood: Two Philosophers go to Sea is a sailing book by Patrick and Sheila Dixon, two empty-nesters with successful, stressful careers who took the decision to experiment with life as part-time nautical nomads.
They had some sailing experience with charter yachts but knew they still had a great deal to learn when they took the decision to buy Moxie, an Oceanis 473 Clipper based in Lagos.
Their approach is cerebral, making decisions, for instance, to alternate the responsibility of skippering in order to utilise their different strengths and build confidence – as well as, presumably, to avid argument.
They share the writing of this book, using different typefaces to identify which of them is author.
The Dixons were quickly away – to Villamoura, Cadiz, Gibraltar and Morocco.
Entering unfamiliar marinas at night was a challenge as was picking anchorages where Moxie would not roll unbearably.
In general they found that their new way of life exceeded their expectations.
A liberal investment in connectivity ensured that running a virtual office from the boat was soon successful.
Time on board was punctuated with frequent returns home to London for work and family as well as commitments in other parts of the world.
The pre-pandemic air miles as well as the sea miles covered in this book don’t bear totting up.
Moxie spent several more years in the Mediterranean and Aegean as a base of exploration, family reunions living and working.
Possibly the most interesting excursion was a trip into Tel Aviv.
Then they nerved themselves for an Atlantic crossing and the book ends with Moxie in Antigua and the questions of post-pandemic destinations still unresolved.
Many people will relate to this narrative but the Dixon’s overall approach may prove more divisive.
The sub-title promises philosophy: in fact, what is offered is life-coaching. Each chapter ends with lessons for sailing and lessons for life.
Patrick Dixon earns his living giving inspirational advice: Sheila is a committed Christian, which may encourage thinking in parables.
I wouldn’t deny that the experience of sailing offers many unexpected insights, some of them profound but must they be spelled out in bullet points?
If you welcome a management guru approach – which many do – I commend this book to you.
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