Through Europe at Four Knots: A Tale of Boating Mayhem and Family Adventure

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9780071361378: Through Europe at Four Knots: A Tale of Boating Mayhem and Family Adventure

In 1990, teacher Les Horn had a brainstorm: why not navigate Europe's inland waterways, from England to Greece, in a small sailboat? Much to his surprise, he sold his wife and preteen son and daughter on the idea, and the following summer, installed in their 24-foot fixer-upper, Alea, the Horns set sail on the family odyssey chronicled in this amusing, satisfying tale.

Traveling at a snail's pace, foraging for provisions, and propelled more by British pluck than by their temperamental outboard motor, the Horns eventually made it to the Aegean, but not without their share of uproarious misadventures in France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

Combining a wry sense of humor with a journalist's eye for the telling detail, Les Horn weaves a shrewdly funny family farce within a delightfully engaging travelogue packed with vivid observations of Europe's variegated landscape, history, and people. A rousing good read for both actual and armchair sailors, travelers, and adventurers.

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From the Back Cover:

New Zealand schoolteacher Les Horn had a brainstorm: why not navigate Europé's inland waterways, from England to Greece, in a small sailboat? Much to his surprise, he managed to sell his wife, Despina, and preteen children, Victoria and Charles, on the idea, and the following summer, installed in their 24-foot fixer-upper, Alea Jacta Est (the die is cast), the Horns set sail on the wry family odyssey chronicled in this delightful tale of misadventure.

The Horns' ambitious plan was to pilot their balky boat down the Thames River to the English Channel and then on to Despina's native Greece via the Seine, Rhine, Danube, Black Sea, and Aegean. Along the way, the Horns would be treated to transforming glimpses of the real Europe; by plying the meandering waterways that nourish the continent like a gigantic circulatory system, they would discover all the hidden splendors not covered in any tour book and out of reach to all but the most intrepid wayfarers.

Needless to say, things didn't turn out quite as expected. Plagued by accidents, breakdowns and delays, forced to forage for provisions, stymied at every turn by petty officials and cantankerous natives, the Horns, propelled more by pluck than by their cranky outboard motor, eventually made it to the Aegean, but not without their share of uproarious adventures in France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

In Through Europe at Four Knots, Les Horn combines an appreciation of the absurd with a journalist's eye for detail to weave a shrewdly funny account of a family voyage through Europe's variegated landscapes. Especially memorable are the family's surreal experiences of the epochal upheaval that swept Eastern Europe in the early 1990s.

Through Europe at Four Knots is a rousing good read for fellow expatriates, sailors, travelers, and adventurers­­--both actual and armchair.

"A riotous cruising adventure, liberally sprinkled with nuggets of comedy and history, which builds in tension as the Horn family crosses the European continental divide and is swept by the inexorable current of the Danube River deeper and deeper into Eastern bloc trouble. A great read that holds you to the end. Highly recommended."--Nigel Calder, boating author

About the Author:

Les Horn was born in Scotland, and has worked as a carpenter, an architectural draftsman, and a teacher. He learned to sail after emigrating to New Zealand, where he currently makes his home with his wife and their two children.

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