Pottersfield Press (2020), 304 pages, paperback, $21.95. Order your copy from your favourite book store or directly from the distributor, Nimbus publishing, here. Visit Jennifer M. Smith's website here.
It was the book cover that sparked my attention. A tanned woman standing on the bow of her sailboat as it slices through a tropical sea under a cerulean sky.
I want to be there, I thought. I want that.
Maybe it was the impending third-wave lockdown that was making me long for travel on the open sea. Given that my outings were going to be limited to grocery store shopping and pharmacy runs, living vicariously through a husband-and-wife-sailing-team as they circumnavigated the globe was too good to pass up.
When I looked past the cover photo and realized I’d met the author in a Brian Henry writing class, I knew the book was a must have.
Green Ghost, Blue Ocean proved to be so much more than a welcome escape. From the lush tropical terrain of Marquesas to the corruption in Madagascar, Jennifer’s vivid descriptions (along with the maps provided) pull the reader in so that you feel you’re living the experience with her.
You get to enjoy the thrill of finding land after travelling many days with no land in sight. You experience the wonderment of discovering new cultures and the beauty of dolphins swimming through sparkling tri-coloured waters. You see the humour in both triumphs and disasters along the way.
This is no romanticized travel memoir. You see the hard lessons that accompany equipment failures and gale force winds and what it takes for two people to solve problems without any access to help. You experience the magnitude of preparation, not only in provisioning for the journey, but in provisioning for the life that allowed the journey in the first place.
It’s all there. All of it.
Even more than the stories and the challenges faced, it’s the author’s personal insights that make Green Ghost, Blue Ocean outstanding. Sprinkled throughout the book, these simple yet profound gems add an exceptional level of depth to the memoir. In one poignant moment, the author noted:
“In Madagascar, no one is ever just passing through. Every person tips the balance and leaves the place changed. Maybe the same can be said of everywhere you go.”
For all of these reasons, Green Ghost, Blue Ocean makes a great read. I especially related to the isolation faced by Jennifer and Nik as they made their journey. In a COVID world, we are isolated in unprecedented ways. Most of us are also living in close quarters with our families and partners, which can present new challenges. Seeing two people navigate tough situations at sea brought me a new sense of comfort – no matter what else is happening during this Pandemic, I’m not facing gale-force winds anytime soon.
I highly recommend this book. It’s about two people who dare to dream and take action to make their dream come true. Through their many adventures they overcome challenges and, in the process, design a life filled with independence, freedom and meaning.
My only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner.
Connie Taylor is an Operations Manager by day, a writer and reader by night. Her writing aspirations began in grade school with her heroine, Pantoulia, who leapt over football fields of fire. She’s contributed to the Journal of Integrated Studies and the Fifty Word Stories website. She enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction stories.
Note: Jennifer M Smith will again be a guest speaker during the spring session of Brian Henry’s Writing Personal Stories Class. See upcoming weekly writing classes here.
See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including online and in-person writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Southampton, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.