The Water in Between

The Water in Betweenby Kevin Patterson

An inexperienced sailor sets to sea from Victoria, British Columbia, to Tahiti and reflects on life ashore from the safety of his sailing vessel. Despite being young, healthy, and a doctor, Kevin Patterson’s life is in shambles: he needs the perspective (the water in between) to figure out where he — and humanity as a whole — went wrong.

He succeeds, with lots of help, in getting to Tahiti and back. But his voyage is full of torment, both real and imaginary, and he fails to feel the shot-in-the-arm effect so many voyagers and travelers brag about in their books. Rather than rising above frailty and cowardice, he accepts these traits as his own and ultimately comes back to shore more aware of inalienable dependencies than ever. His voyage should be required reading for those considering escape on a sailboat. The Water in Between is one of the most lucid, comic, and engaging works of travel literature to rise from the ocean in recent memory.

Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, New York; 212-354-6500; 300 pages; $23.95.

By Ocean Navigator