I know–I said I would be gone until November 30th but this is a surprise birthday gift to my good efriend, Liesbet Collaert. Today is her birthday as well as the launch of her debut novel, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, the #1 New Release in Sailing (Woot!):
Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir, as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.
I had the opportunity for an early read and couldn’t put it down (literally–I finished it in a weekend). It’s fresh, personal, with tons of details on sailing and traveling on a shoestring. Here’s my review:
Liesbet Collaert’s debut memoir, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, is one of those books I couldn’t wait to read. Who hasn’t wanted to be a wanderer, go wherever life led them, bravely face new adventures with courage and aplomb, make new friends in dozens of countries, and conquer crises as though it were easy. Me, I think ‘wandering’ is part of man’s DNA. There’s a reason we are the only species that inhabits every corner of the planet. The issue: Most of us think living requires settling down.
Liesbet didn’t–think it or do it.
She is that rare individual not afraid to explore any new country whether she speaks the language or not, no matter that she knows no one who lives there (because she’ll just make new friends). In Plunge!, we see just the sailing part of her nomadic life (in a sailboat and then a catamaran) and mostly in the Americas.
“We trust our lives and future to Irie [her catamaran]. She’s our home, our transportation, our safe haven, our irritation, our support, our biggest curse, and our greatest treasure.”
“We wake up with the sun, work in the morning, and snorkel, walk, or read in the afternoon. Then, we jump in the clear ocean to take a bath; we get wet, wash up with shampoo, and lower ourselves again to rinse off. We use our sun shower for a final freshwater rinse in the cockpit.”
“We rise early in frigid temperatures, take the wheel, test the autopilot, follow day marks and buoys, look at charts, check our depth, observe the chart plotter, and shiver non-stop. We pay attention to the route, take photos, get in line for bridge openings, and stick to a schedule of eight to ten hours on the go.”
Liesbet visits countless countries, discusses their immigration, their maritime laws, their culture of folks who sail fulltime. Liesbet and her friends are likable and interesting, the story unusual, and the settings authentic.
But as much as it is a travel story and an adventure, Plunge is a love story. Liesbet starts with a wonderful man and finds one even better but their shared life is not without problems. Of course there are problems! They live together on a small boat 24/7/365. They face issues on a daily basis most couples wouldn’t in a lifetime. They sail multiple oceans, enter numerous countries, even cross the Equator (where I found out there is little/no wind). If you don’t follow her blog, Roaming About, you’ll want to. There, I found out that she wrote this debut novel (did I say it is #1 in the Amazon category Sailing) on the road, often between Internet services.
To give a sense of the book, I wanted to quote some of my favorite lines. That list got long. I tried to shorten it which proved an exercise in futility:
“Freedom to do what I want, go where I please, and be myself, no matter what, has always been more important to me than security, comfort, routine, and keeping up appearances.”
“Most people follow a distinct path, set by social norms, dictated by society. I become antsy staying in a familiar area for months, following certain habits. It’s too restrictive.”
“…plans are written in sand at low tide.”
“…enjoy this plunge into my less than ordinary thirties.”
“Ever since I chose travel over stuff, at age 17, people have wondered whether I’m rich. I’m not. And I never will be.”
“Anything salty on a boat means trouble in the long run. It will always suck moisture from the air, acquiring a permanent state of dampness.”
See what I mean?
For anyone who’s wanted to take the road less traveled, who wondered what was in the other side of a hill, who is happy with any answer when they flip a coin, this book is for you. I read it because of my lifelong desire to do that. By the time I’d finished, I felt like I had.
More nature-related books
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Fall 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning