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Love for Sail

Reviewed in Cruising World

February, 1975

LOVE FOR SAIL by Mark Hassall and Jim Brown; privately printed, may be ordered through Almar Enterprise, P.O. Box 2291, Santa Cruz, CA 95063; illus., 207 p., paperback only, $6.

Any quiet anchorage which has collected more than one cruising boat will have collected just as many lifestyles and cruising philosophies. Some are cruising professionals — charterers with clients to be catered to or perhaps transient skippers on delivery. Some are cruising yachtsmen — white pressed shorts, a clean shirt for dinner, and the bluepeter when the owner is away to cocktails. A few have snuggled in for the week- end .

But the boat with the mileage- scarred bottom and fading paint, the baggywrinkle worn brown in the rigging, the one with the laundry so unaesthetically hung on the lifelines, that's the cruising man's. Mark Hassall is a cruising man with a logged 40,000 miles on his 37' searunner trimaran, Talofiafaoe. He and his wife, Bonnie, and son, David, remain short of circumnavigation by only the the Guatemala- Panama-Hawaii legs.

Now "settled" on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, Mark has compiled hours of tape recorded "on the spot narrations" with designer- cruiser Jim Brown interposing analytical and sometimes critical counterpoint in italics; the product is an unusual and educational cruising experience. LOVE FOR SAIL is 207 pages of valuable insight into a man, his boat, and the pleasures and dangers of a lifestyle to which more and more people are turning.

The book is slow at the start, but if the reader perseveres, he is rewarded with some truly great passages

It takes a peculiar nomadic mentality to maintain a life of traveling. Mark has discovered an axiomatic formula and manages to use it to his benefit. In his words, "As long as you're busy you run into people. You know, you kinda gotta be doing your own thing and people come your way..." Be in the right place among the right people, and interesting things happen.

Son David is given an unparalleled amount of freedom. Talofiafaoe becomes a two dinghy boat to allow David the choice of his own coming and going. David — now at Berkeley— is eleven at the outset. His simple knack with people and his openness exceed even Mark's. Friends are instantly made and extended contact leads to fluency in the local language and custom. He often visits families and stays with them for lengthy periods in the backwoods.

While school represents a problem when speaking in orthodox terms, the education of David Hassall emerges as a symphony of experience, know-how, and responsibility overlaid upon a sensitive and intelligent mind. His story, interwoven throughout the narrative, is exceptional. To his credit, he himself sought a return to "civilization" and recognized the need for the more formal aspects of schooling.

Although Mark did not manifest all the talents of a Knox-Johnston at the outset, he did manage to best four cyclones and a dismasting. One of the most moving narrations is the description of a hurricane passing directly over Talofiafaoe.

LOVE FOR SAIL is different from other cruising accounts in that the flavor of conversation is maintained throughout. More, Brown's continuing commentary about a boat he designed, seamanship, and friends he knows well provides truly interesting reading for cruising men at large.

- Tay Vaughan