Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Petrel - to Antarctica in a 34 foot yacht

The journey that Snow Petrel, a 34 foot yacht made deep into the Southern Ocean, all the way to the mythical landmass of Antarctica one Summer makes for a textured, intriguing, exhilarating story. Yes, I admit I have a passion for all things nautical and I love the way how, so often in our everyday speech, we find ourselves out to sea; we set course, we change tack, we don't like the cut of someone's jib, we make things shipshape.
   'Snow Petrel' is riddled with nauticalia - but it also a well constructed travel narrative of an amazing adventure that has a good dollop of both history and geography. The author Jon Tucker, the  "cabin boy," and father of the skipper Ben and other crewmate Matt, narrates the story with a gentle and interested tone. He cuts from his version of a log, to a personal history of 40 years on the water - and a greater historical narrative of 95 years of Antarctic exploration.
   The trip across the Southern Ocean was immaculately researched and planned for - and the story takes us through some of these preparations through fields of ice, the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties - to I don't even know what the winds that surge through the latitudes of the Sixties are called to the windiest place on earth, Commonwealth Bay, landmass Antactica, Mawson's hut - and all the way back to Southern Tasmania.
 "Just lucky I had two sons who were prepared to take their old man along," says Jon, author, father, sailor, as he recounts some of the story of the trip. These recollections include the most beautiful sights these men have ever seen, colours shining through fields of seemingly unnavigable ice. There are stories of being incarcerated by winds of 80-110 knots, held captive by sea-ice, tales of the introverted stage of an ocean passage when everything contracts, a world devoid of colour outside of white and grey - and empty of sound, outside of Penguin noises and the tones of the yacht. Jon tells of the onboard library as vital, the books as "sanity savers," and he tells of a knock down and the loss of the best bolognaise of the journey.  Listen to the full interview by clicking here. Seriously; please do, it's an amazing story - oh! and read the book too.

Snow Petrel
by Jon Tucker
40 Degrees South


  1. When I met one of Jon's son's (Sam) and he told me about his dad and two brother's trip to Antartica, it sounded so exciting. After my first trip to Hobart and seeing Snow Petrel I couldn't believe it was possible. But after reading Jon's book about this adventure, told in a way that yachties and non-boating people are enthralled I am simply amazed. I've passed our copy onto my Mum who has now passed it on to my Uncle who are loving reading about the family I am marrying into.....as his future daughter-in-law I'm not saying this just to earn brownie points, but just as someone who loves a good story and it is so well told, you just want to keep turning pages well into the night!

    1. Georgina,
      I agree - the book is so readable, so generous. I passed it straight to my Dad who read it, as I had in one sitting! Paige x


Paige Turner November

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