book reviews

A Memoir You Won’t Want to Miss

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

My Latest Non-fiction Winner–Enos Mills

Frozen Crimes by Chrys Fey–A Chilling Adventure

Two Stories of Survival


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

117 thoughts on “A Memoir You Won’t Want to Miss

  1. Pingback: 10 Ways to Promote Your Book – What Works & What Doesn’t? – Roaming About

  2. Pingback: Chatting with Liesbet about Her #1 Debut Novel – Interview on WordDreams with Jacqui Murray – Roaming About

  3. Pingback: Chatting with Liesbet About Her #1 Debut Novel | WordDreams...

  4. Jacqui, a wonderful and enticing review! I have seen Liesbet’s book around WP and each time am more intrigued and fascinated by her amazing life! I think perhaps we all dream slightly we had the courage and fortitude to lead such a nomadic life … a book that is quickly climbingmy tbr list!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annika! Sorry for the late reply here… I’m so glad I have you intrigued with my lifestyle and with “Plunge!” 🙂 As I mentioned before, sometimes the best way to travel is comfortably seated on a couch! Although, most travelers by heart are probably getting sick of that, these days, and prefer the real action once more.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I hope you are enjoying your break, Jacqui, and how exciting to see your post and review of Plunge. I’ve met Liesbet and Mark in person when they were house sitting in the exciting town of Rocklin, close to where I live for now. They really live and have lived quite the life. I’ve got the book and hope to get to it soon. Hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving, maybe a peaceful one.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Happy birthday, wonderful lady and eFriend! I hope your special day is as beautiful as mine yesterday. I managed to spend it with a few friends, like Duwan and Greg from Make Like An Apeman, in the Arizona desert. 🙂 And, yours is a very special and big one. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jacqui – Happy Birthday to both you and Liesbet. What an amazing review – sounds an amazing travel adventure … and she’s obviously got a wonderful memoir to tell … and no doubt a fascinating road ahead. Dogs make our lives don’t they … but great reads do too … stay safe both of you – and all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My grandfather, with my mom’s help, authored Around the World in 80 Years about his solo circumnavigation of the globe, twice–once at 76, I believe, then in the other direction at 84 or so. Some pretty fascinating stories there too. He and Liesbet would’ve been friends, I’m sure. He made them all over the world.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I just signed up for Liesbet’s blog last week, Jacqui. I read your review regarding her book today on her blog. I enjoy memoirs because you truly get to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow! Liesbet’s book and life sound fascinating! I love her approach to life, taking on challenges as part of the atmosphere aware that the next wave could wash away all her plans. i could never live this way – I’m afraid of the dark – but it’s exciting to learn about someone for whom this is the way to breathe. Great review, Jacqui, and best wishes to Liesbet on all her future pursuits.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Sounds like a great read. As a sailor myself (started sailing when I was quite young) I love being on the water. But I also know I couldn’t do what Liesbet has done and live on a boat 24/7/365…a few weeks, yes, but not longer.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This book sounds fascinating! Based on the quotes, it is well written too. I love books like An Embarrassment of Mangoes so I know I would enjoy this one. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. xo

    Liked by 2 people

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