The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea

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9780060747022: The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea

At forty, Mary South seemed to have it all: a beautiful home in Pennsylvania, a group of close friends, the companionship of two loving Jack Russell terriers and a successful career in book publishing. But shuttling between the conference room at work and her couch in front of the TV at home, South couldn't help feeling that she was missing something intangible but essential. So she decided to go looking for it where so many have before: at sea.

Six months later, she had quit her job, sold the house, graduated seamanship school and was living aboard a 40-foot, 30-ton steel trawler. Despite South's total lack of experience, the maiden voyage of the rechristened Bossanova was to be a journey up the eastern seaboard. Along with her crew (the dogs and her buddy John—her odd-couple opposite in politics, lifestyle and pretty much everything except a love of the open ocean), she set off on a fifteen-hundred mile odyssey from Florida to Maine. But what began as the fulfillment of an idle wish became a crash course in navigating the byways of the self.

The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water traces South's voyage from the charming Americana of Florida's Intracoastal Waterway out into the often stormy waters of the Atlantic. As the trip progresses, South grapples not only with whatever Poseidon throws her way, but also with the ghosts of family and loves lost. For anyone with a secret dream that's gone unfulfilled, here is a reckoning—both funny and poignant—of what's really involved in casting off an old life and making a new one.

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About the Author:

Mary South was a founding editor of Riverhead Books. In the course of her career, she edited an eclectic list of award-winning and bestselling books, including The South Beach Diet. When she is not aboard the Bossanova, South lives in New York City, where she is now senior editor of Yachting magazine.

From Publishers Weekly:

A mid-life crisis and a latent sense of adventure caused book editor South to give up her life in publishing and take up residence on the Bossanova, a steel-hull trawler she bought before knowing how to captain it. The subtitle is largely hyperbolic-South's time "at sea" was really a short, if perilous, sail from Florida to Sag Harbor, where the boat is now docked-but South makes an interesting memoir from her skillful observation of the sailing life: "Good seamanship isn't the thoughtless instinct that salty dogs make it seem to be. It's the good habit of always asking yourself the right questions in the right order and answering them thoughtfully." Sometimes, she seems to have forgotten landlubbers might pick up her book; a sentences like, "One danger is that your bow will slow and your stern will get kicked out to the side, causing you to be beam-to," is just one head-scratcher of many for the uninitiated. She can be clumsy when transitioning between sailing stories and other aspects of her life ("This sailing was happiness. For a time, happiness, too, had been Leslie."), but her clear-eyed perspective and involving stories keep the narrative moving. This small but well-observed memoir is a worthwhile read for anyone stuck in the workaday rut.
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