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Winter in Fireland: A Patagonian Sailing Adventure Paperback – Jun 2 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Alberta Press (June 2 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0888645473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888645470
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #306,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Durand on Nov. 20 2011
Format: Paperback
WINTER IN FIRELAND
A Patagonian sailing adventure

Reviewed by Paul Durand
Recovering diplomat

I first became a fan of Nick Coghlan's writing when reading his dispatches from our embassy in Colombia in the late nineties. In these reports, he combined the two qualities that make "Winter in Fireland" a gripping read - an irrepressible spirit of adventure which took him into the most daunting situations, and an ability to describe his experiences in lucid prose. This book, following on his previous publications about Colombia and Sudan, places him solidly in the company of the best travel writers - those hardy souls who have explored the world's nether regions and lived to tell the tale.

The voyage starts in Capetown, South Africa, where, in 2003, Nick and his wife Jenny had begun a two-year posting. There, they conceived of the ultimate sailing adventure; around the tip of South America, through the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan, then into the Pacific. This region, notorious as a sailors' graveyard, is beset by ferocious storms, numbing cold and unpredictable currents: the most difficult sailing area in the world. In addition to the challenge, they were motivated by a certain amount of nostalgia, having worked in Argentina immediately after graduating from university in the UK. While there, they travelled extensively in the region and were particularly attracted to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

In South Africa they purchased and fitted-out the `Bosun Bird', a Canadian-designed Vancouver 27 with a good reputation for rugged seaworthiness. At 27 feet, she was small - the minimum for this type of voyage, but similar in size to their previous boat, `Tarka the Otter'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Winter in Fireland Aug. 30 2011
By Howard Steen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this book the author describes a voyage he made, supported by his wife as crew in a small sailing yacht from Capetown to Puerto Montt in the south of Chile via the Patagonian and Chile channels. The trip included a planned break during the severe southern winter at Puerto Williams, Tierra del Fuego, hence the title.
For me this book was a very compelling and enjoyable read on several levels. The author has written a very informative account of a journey well off the beaten track and including several months spent sailing through one of the most challenging and inhospitable areas of navigable water on the planet, parts of it, even today, still uncharted. Few people chose to sail here and the book gives a fascinating insight into the motivation, preparation, challenges, hazards, setbacks and uncertainties that are involved for those who commit to a small boat voyage of this type.
It was easy to get a sense of and appreciate the adventure in this voyage. The author has used few sailing terms and gives ample explanation for non sailors. The narrative was made compelling and authentic for me by descriptions of the raw fear and doubts about the whole venture he feels when facing particularly challenging sections of the route.
I also liked this book because it offers much more than simply an account of a sailing adventure. The author has put his own journey which takes his boat and crew through modern day Brazil, Argentina and Chile into the context of his early experience working in Argentina in the late 70's as well as several centuries of history of the region. Informative and entertaining references and asides occur throughout the book to the history of the area including its exploration e.g. the Beagle and Darwin and naval encounters e.g. the Falklands War. The author shares many interesting personal insights and observations of people and places along the way.
So overall, a very enjoyable book, well researched, well presented with ample photographs and route charts. A good bibliography recommends further reading covering adventure and history of the region.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sailing the Furious Forties Nov. 24 2011
By Paul Durand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
WINTER IN FIRELAND
A Patagonian sailing adventure

Reviewed by Paul Durand
Recovering diplomat

I first became a fan of Nick Coghlan's writing when reading his dispatches from our embassy in Colombia in the late nineties. In these reports, he combined the two qualities that make "Winter in Fireland" a gripping read - an irrepressible spirit of adventure which took him into the most daunting situations, and an ability to describe his experiences in lucid prose. This book, following on his previous publications about Colombia and Sudan, places him solidly in the company of the best travel writers - those hardy souls who have explored the world's nether regions and lived to tell the tale.

The voyage starts in Capetown, South Africa, where, in 2003, Nick and his wife Jenny had begun a two-year posting. There, they conceived of the ultimate sailing adventure; around the tip of South America, through the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan, then into the Pacific. This region, notorious as a sailors' graveyard, is beset by ferocious storms, numbing cold and unpredictable currents: the most difficult sailing area in the world. In addition to the challenge, they were motivated by a certain amount of nostalgia, having worked in Argentina immediately after graduating from university in the UK. While there, they travelled extensively in the region and were particularly attracted to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

In South Africa they purchased and fitted-out the `Bosun Bird', a Canadian-designed Vancouver 27 with a good reputation for rugged seaworthiness. At 27 feet, she was small - the minimum for this type of voyage, but similar in size to their previous boat, `Tarka the Otter'. After extensive fitting up, they weighed anchor in Capetown in September, 2005 and began the first leg of the journey, across the Atlantic to Brazil.

As the real journey begins, Nick's sailing expertise comes to the fore. He explains, with the easy ability of one who knows his stuff, sailing tactics, gear, and various levels of marine history and lore (fans of Patrick O'Brian will be relieved to know that they don't have to acquire a whole new nautical vocabulary in order to enjoy this book).

South America is familiar territory, and Nick puts the trip into historical and personal context as they make stops along the way. This provides depth and colour, because they are following in the footsteps/wakes of fascinating characters, such as Drake, Magellan, Cook, Slocum, Chatwin and an assortment of pirates. The history here is remote but consequential; he describes British and German naval confrontations during the world wars; Chile/Argentina border jostling, and the Falklands war, along with other interesting personal and historical anecdotes.

With well-warranted apprehension, they keep pushing south; through the Roaring Forties into the Furious Fifties, and eventually entering the Beagle Channel, with the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego to the north and a succession of Chilean islands down to Cape Horn to the south. He talks of 8-metre waves and 50-knot winds, sudden squalls and always the freezing, wet cold. This is not hospitable territory; and now, five months out of Capetown, the fun has just begun.

In March, they arrive in Puerto Williams, Chile, the southernmost town in the world (to the chagrin of the Argentines, who long claimed that honour for Ushuaia, several miles to the north) and prepare to hunker down for the worst of the winter before proceeding across the bottom of the world and into the Pacific.

There is a compelling account of the tragic demise of the Yahgan tribes who were hunted, then proselytized, to near extinction, and the missionaries whose futile attempts to `save' them usually ended in disaster.

Finally, on August 20, as winter eases and conditions improve, they slip their moorings and begin the 1200-mile journey through the rest of the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan, up the Chilean coast to Puerto Montt. It's an arduous journey, requiring all the sailing skills of the two, but eventually they arrive at their final Chilean destination, having traversed the world's most treacherous waters.

On March 1, after re-supplying and re-fitting, they depart Puerto Montt and the Chilean mainland, heading out into the Pacific. In the words of the author, "On a brilliant afternoon, we set our course to the NNW and Robinson Crusoe Island, six hundred miles away. The sun sank slowly, the wind picked up, South America faded into the night".

A perfect ending to a gripping adventure, written by someone who has mastered both sail and pen.
Great! July 14 2013
By Len - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a very informative and enjoyable travel log of the sailing jouney into Southern Chili. Especially since I intend to sail there this year
Great read Jan. 9 2013
By S. Sears - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well told in a low key fashion, plenty of sailing specific writing but really more of a lifetime adventure narrative.

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