North to the Night

I love these kinds of adventure tales that turn me into an armchair traveler. And by “these kinds”, I mean the ones that don’t overplay the maudlin or overemphasize the dangers or weave meaningless strands of spirituality into the mix. Simon’s tale kicks off in the tropical seas, promising his wife Diana that they’ll head back to the US and abandon their nomadic wandering in favor of setting up house. Upon arriving into the Florida waters, Alvah immediately decides he needs to make that Arctic trip after all, and they begin the year long preparation, selling their wooden boat to get a more suitable steel cruiser, buying up canned goods, fuel, and other necessities.
They spend a test winter anchored in the outer edges of Maine, and the following spring head north for the Arctic circle. By September, they’re anchored in Tay Bay, awaiting the ice that will freeze them in. Diana learns that her father has been diagnosed with cancer and has few months to live. Grief-stricken, she makes plans to be evacuated out to go home to New Zealand and care for him in his final days. That leaves Alvah alone on the ice, as I suspect he wanted all along.
Through total darkness and below 60 degree weather, Alvah survives the winter with radio contact from a man he’s never met, and with the company of their cat, Halifax. Sometimes sleeping 24 hours straight, Alvah goes blind then recovers his sight, nearly freezes to death in the cabin, but somehow always pulls out alive. Diana joins him mid-way through, and they watch the ice melt and the spring overtake the Arctic.
Plenty of bear encounters, fox sightings, and birding delights. Most engaging book I’ve read in months.
******
Reco’d by The Max, pulled from his pile of boaty books


auth=Simon, Alvah
pub=1998
sub=A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic
isbn=076790446x