The True Spirit of Adventure

Book Title: The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow. A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea

Author: AJ Mackinnon

Photo: Black Inc. Books

Promotional Blurb: A couple of quiet weeks sailing the River Severn was the intention. Somehow things got out of hand – a year later I had reached Romania and was still going…

Truly hilarious books are rare. Even rarer are those based on real events. Join A.J. Mackinnon, your charming and eccentric guide, on an amazing voyage in a boat called Jack de Crow. 

Equipped with his cheerful optimism and a pith helmet, this Australian Odysseus in a dinghy travels from the borders of North Wales to the Black Sea – 4,900 kilometres over salt and fresh water, under sail, at the oars, or at the end of a tow-rope – through twelve countries, 282 locks and numerous trials and adventures, including an encounter with Balkan pirates. Along the way he experiences the kindness of strangers, gets very lost, and perfects the art of slow travel. 

My Thoughts:  This book can only be described as a ‘romp’ and I loved it! An Australian man teaching English in a Welsh private school decides it is time to return home, but before he does that, he plans one last memorable journey. He sets off on a ‘boy’s own adventure’ deciding to sail and row a tiny dinghy 60 miles through remote English canals. The further he travels, the more his confidence (or craziness) grows, and his trip is extended to London and eventually to the Black Sea.

Along the way, he memorises Keats poetry, quotes great swathes of Shakespeare, and uses copious Lord of the Rings’ analogies. While the many literary references do get a little tedious at times, the sheer audacity and folly of what he undertakes is a marvel and enjoyable in itself.

Of course it was not all plain sailing (excuse the pun), but he had the most amazing luck, and met many fascinating people who may have been as eccentric as himself, which then led to some even more unbelievable experiences.

It may not be award-winning writing, but the quirkiness and audacity of his story inspires me to set out on my own adventures. (NB: the book also includes his sketches and drawings. Obviously a pretty talented bloke).

Sandy MacKinnon. Photo: Black Inc Books

Author bio: A. J. (Sandy) Mackinnon was born in Australia in 1963 and spent his childhood between England and Australia, travelling with his family on the last P&O liners to sail between the two countries. His interests include painting, philosophy, writing, conjuring and home-made fireworks. He is currently a teacher of English, Drama, Mathematics and Philosophy in the Victorian High Country. He is the author of The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow and The Well at the World’s End.

Author blog or website: not found.

Pages:  355

Published: May 2002

Publisher: Black Inc.

Available from: Book Depository ($18.04), ($19.99)

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