Books: Captains Courageous

The sea is an endurance test, a way of living and an avenger in three gripping adventure tales

Late 20th century entrepreneurs have invented high-adrenaline sports--hang-gliding, say, or canyoning. But the riskiest adventure is still to set forth upon open water and take a chance when, as the great single-handed sailor Joshua Slocum wrote a century ago, "the sea is in its grandest mood."

The experience may provoke grand writing, as it does in three new nautical sagas. Godforsaken Sea (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; 272 pages; $22.95) is one of the best books ever written about sailing--in this case the extreme sailing required to go around the world solo in the toughest of all sailboat races, the...

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