Welcome to the February 18th stop on the blog tour for My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ’76 by H. Downing Lane, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more excerpt spotlights, reviews, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
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About the Book
My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ’76
by H. Downing Lane
Published 15 April 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Page Count: 196
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
MY RITE OF PASSAGE DURING THE SUMMER OF ’76 is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about adventure on the high seas with philosophical musings that add a resonant layer of depth.
In this memoir, H. Downing Lane recalls the 25-day transatlantic sailing trip he took in 1976 as a young man, the details of the journey around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and other locales, and reflects on its significance as a coming-of-age learning experience.
H. Downing Lane was 26 years old in 1976 when he decided to sign up for a transatlantic sailing trip into the Arctic with an accomplished captain named E. Newbold Smith. In this vivid, often exhilarating memoir, Lane draws from journal entries written during his time at sea to share an account of the remarkable voyage.
The Atlantic crossing was a 25-day affair, from Chesapeake Bay, around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the coast of Norway. It was undertaken at a point in Lane’s life when he was feeling particularly vulnerable, as he was recovering from an accident in which he had lost an eye. He wished to “prove [his] mettle,” not to the other men aboard the boat, but to himself. As it turned out, Captain Smith was something of a kindred spirit, as he too had survived a devastating accident many years earlier. Lane provides the reader with a realistic vision of what life aboard a sailing vessel is like, from the often freezing temperatures above and below deck, to the many challenges presented by simple bodily necessities. He describes various technical aspects of working on the boat, but his language never devolves into jargon; his account is always perfectly clear and accessible.
Lane seasons the text with literary and philosophical quotes that frequently allow him to consider the greater meaning of his experience, and even of life itself. There are also numerous stunning photographs included of the boat and the various stops along the way.
Time stood still as we approached Iceland during our arrival. As the northern light dawned on me, I began to realize time had changed over the last 10 days. Little did I realize, I had changed, light had remained the same. We had all changed before our very eyes, but we did not know this until we had more time ashore. By this time we were all dazed and stir crazy. How could we not be after climbing mountains of water, facing our most mortal fears, barely recalling our last comfortable and cozy, dry sleep, while enduring the stench of body odors and vomit. We had lost some of our senses. Certainly our sense of smell had disappeared. Amazing how we salts could sleep in our own stench. We ate like kings every day, but discovered our digestive systems shut down. If we didn’t know it before, we discovered eating and sleeping were among life’s greatest pleasures. This was always known, but it isn’t until one is deprived of a sound sleep, one finally appreciates it. Probably true with any of our creature comforts.
Funny how food tastes better than ever. As if my sense of taste was more alive than ever. My sense of smell left me / us; we simply tolerated what burned our nostrils.
We now knew we had time to catch our breath. The sea had taken it away from us. Or more accurately, we had taken our breath away from ourselves during our struggles against Nature during those measly ten days. As drowsy as I was, I had never felt so alive before. I knew we all had a bond, a sense of accomplishment. We had sailed against the cold winds and faced some of the sea’s greatest forces.
Without speaking for the entire crew, our appreciation for life was almost palpable. What does appreciation look like? How does it appear to the human condition? How about hugs, kisses, stories, many a thankyous. Miracles? Memories? Joint challenges? Flashbacks? Here were grown men hugging each other for not only sailing together through a parade of Nature’s thickest storms and making it back to dry land. There would be time for reflection.
About the Author
H. Downing Lane is a retired educator, tutoring business owner, English teacher, coach and administrator who sails in his spare time. Presently he is writing a series of books that chronicle his sailing adventures.
Born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, he has returned home after 40 years to write. Henry taught sailing for eight years on Long Island Sound and sailed competitively on the Chesapeake Bay, crewed transatlantic to Iceland and Norway, been a crew member of a number of Annapolis – Newport and Newport – Bermuda races and sailed much of the Caribbean and Bahamas.
In 1978, he sailed the SORC around Florida. In 2008, he purchased Mystique, a 40′ leopard catamaran, and in 2013, he sailed it to Santo Domingo, the Turks and Cacaos and eventually to Florida.
In 2016, he sailed solo for 51 days through the Exumas. On another adventure he and Lainie Wrightson had a calamitous time together – losing both rudders – the basis of his second book, Bluewater Mystique.
He has chartered boats to sail the Dalmatian Coast, Belize, Abacos, Eleuthera and the Maine coast. While maintaining his blog www.bluewatermystique.com, he has written numerous blogs about life and sailing.
He is a dedicated learner and loves sharing his experiences and stories.
H. Downing Lane will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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