A Personal Odyssey

By Tristan Jones

Published by Sheridan House, an imprint of Globe Pequot
391 pages paperback

Our friends at Sheridan House in Essex, CT have re-released one of our favorite books by long distance sailor and writer Tristan Jones for their Maritime Classics series. Originally published in 1977, The Incredible Voyage finds the author retracing the voyages of discovery made by 16th century European explorers. Determined to set “the vertical sailing record of the world” by sailing on the Dead Sea (between Israel and Jordan; 1,250 feet below sea level) and Lake Titicaca (on the border of Bolivia and Peru; 12,580 feet above sea level) in the course of a single voyage, Jones set out from Westport, Connecticut “with no fanfares or other bullsh*t” on June 25, 1969. At that time, neither body of water had ever been sailed in a seagoing vessel or reached by an ocean voyager.

Displaying dogged Welsh determination, Jones (and various crew members; not all of his six-year journey – covering a distance equal to twice the circumference of the Earth – was solo) persevered despite hitting a whale, being fired upon by snipers on the Red Sea, capsizing off the Cape of Good Hope, facing starvation in the Amazon basin, struggling for 3,000 miles against the planet’s most powerful sea current, and hauling his boat over the Andes three miles above sea level in a quest to find the legendary Island of the Sun. Chockful of sea stories, documentary photos and heavily laced with salty Welsh wit, The Incredible Voyage is essential reading.

Born at sea off Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic, one of the most remote islands on the planet, Tristan Jones (1924-1995) held nine world sailing records and was known as “the world’s longest distance sailor.” He logged a record 345,000 sea miles in boats under 40 feet in length; 180,000 miles of that distance singlehanded. One of the most prolific and revered authors of sailing stories, Jones wrote sixteen books. ■