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The Water in Between

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  217 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A broken heart leads Kevin Patterson to the dock of a sailboat brokerage on Vancouver Island, where he stands contemplating the romance of the sea and his heartfelt desire to get away. By the end of the day, he finds himself the owner of a thirty-seven-foot ketch called "Sea Mouse." Although he's never really been on the ocean before (aside from the odd ferry-ride), he fee ...more
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Published August 13th 2002 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published August 12th 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 09, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this book on an annual basis (usually during a time of personal crisis) and always take away something new from it. It’s nice to have a book that can be revisited in a variety of contexts with the knowledge that it will offer up lessons. It is a story of a broken (or so he thinks) man who sails away from life’s troubles only to find himself on a small boat at sea with none of the worldly things to distract him from his memories and conscience. A painfully realistic account of travel, t ...more
Jan 10, 2008 Neelam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book about the effects of travel on the soul.
Nov 30, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I bought back in February for real cheap in a bookstore that was closing down. I think it was only a pound or two - and it was an amazing bargain, as I really enjoyed this book, despite having no knowledge or real interest in boats. However, this memoir of a heart-broken man who decides to buy a boat and take it sailing (even though he knows nothing at all about sailing) still managed to appeal to me through the personable and humorous approach Kevin Patterson takes in his clever and confident w ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to sail and love reading about sailing trips. So I was all set to take another armchair sailing adventure when I came across this book. I was not that thrilled by the time I finished reading it.

Kevin Patterson is a doctor who wants to get away from his hateful life in the Canadian army in Manitoba. Without knowing a thing about sailing, he buys a boat, meets up with someone who did have some sailing experience, and they head out for the "Paradise" of Tahihi.

By the end of the book (after t
Feb 11, 2015 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book as I've read other ocean crossing books and loved the danger and the sense of isolation that a crew encounters on their journey. Sadly this book just didn't have as much of that as I'd hoped for. Although Patterson wanted to give the reader background information into his life and what brought him to his cross ocean journey, each time he left the boat and dove into the past I found myself extremely uninterested. As well, the large stretches of ocean voyage history felt ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a broken heart, people infected with wanderlust
Recommended to Laurie by: Greg
Unexpected...really beautiful and soulful.
I feel oddly guilty for not enjoying this book more. It’s certainly interesting subject matter –a young man heartbroken over a failed love affair and feeling the urgent need to flee from the suffocating boredom of army life, buys a boat and sails to Tahiti. Along the way he contemplates the stories of sailors who set out on the ocean alone, the value and perils of solitude and the meaning of the word escape.

In contrast to the works that inspire his journey (Chatwin, Theroux) Patterson’s account
Apr 18, 2016 Heep rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The value of this book,becomes most apparent at the end. There were times when it meandered - drifted in a seemingly aimless way - which is appropriate given the topic. Ultimately, it is very honest and insightful - not in a Ted Talks kind of way - not the type of tale where the author did something unique and now has come to truly understand life. This book is a very humble and humane rebelling of a somewhat pointless expedition by sail from Vancouver to Oceania. The writing is excellent with a ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Thalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
I'll admit, my eyes got a little glassy sometimes...the boat details were killing me. But when the main character was recounting his past (as a soldier doctor based out of Shilo), I was riveted. And the best chapter of the whole book (Ch 12) was a fascinating essay in itself on life in the north country (as in the NWT/Nunavut). Aside from the glassy eye parts this book was beautifully written with, at times, mind blowing poetic descriptions. It won't be for everyone but I'd love to read more fro ...more
This is the true story of a doctor from Manitoba who, in a fit of depression and with no sailing experience, decides to buy a boat and sail to Tahiti. He does so and he writes a good book about it. I enjoyed his bravery and cynical sense of humor through most of the book but eventually got tired of hearing what he was thinking. When he wanted to get home and get off his boat I found that I was also ready to end the adventure. It was exciting to read while he was enjoying his sail on the Sea Mous ...more
Hilary Lang Greenebaum
Just finished and really enjoyed his philosophical musings as he sails from Canada to Tahiti. Some of the sailing techno arcana was a bit much but I breezed through those parts. There are interesting historical sections as well. The author reveals, or appears to reveal, a lot about himself and his vulnerabilities. I read this first book b/c I liked Consumption so much! If you like to sail and dream of picking up and sailing away, read this and meet his cast of characters.
Mar 05, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, 2007
i liked about the first half of the book. after that it was just more of the same, and it got a little boring.

it wasn’t really a travel adventure story like i was expecting. it was more of a memoir of the time that he was at sea/planning to go to sea. it was well written, so that’s good, and he had a sense of humor, which was also good. but, i would have liked more about the journey and the places he stopped instead of the internal musings about life, etc.
Rob Tilley
Sep 21, 2008 Rob Tilley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful travel book in the tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux. In fact, the author includes many excerpts from these and other travel writers. Most of the book is about the author's voyage on a small sailing boat from Victoria, BC to the South Pacific and back again including a solo journey from Hawaii to Vancouver Island. I especially liked the author's thoughtful comments about himself and his companions on this journey.
Stacy Bearse
Jul 17, 2012 Stacy Bearse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Two young Canadians, caught in the doldrums of life, decide to do something completely different: Buy a concrete sailboat, and set sail from Vancouver to Tahiti. This is a grand sailing story, although the crisp narrative is dulled by frequent digressions into the literature of wanderlust. A little less worship of Bruce Chatwin's "The Songlines" would have been sufficient. That said, read this book if you love the sea and the people who challenge it.
Jul 05, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic tale! An exploration of solitude, travel, and companionship. Beautiful with a surprising sense of humor that makes the adventure a human instead of Herculean affair. The sailing details are plentiful with vivid descriptions of squalls, far-off lands, and the search for meaning. I can't say enough about what a fine job Kevin Patterson has done in capturing his deeply personal and thought-provoking journey.
Jan 06, 2015 Jed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for anyone who's ever felt the urge to set off on an adventure.
Mar 09, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like travel books this one is just wonderful. Kevin Patterson sails from Canada to Tahiti and back to escape the dreadful boredom of the Canadian army in which he serves as a doctor. His writing is straightforward and unpretentious but very interesting and wise. He is obviously a very smart fellow. I'm going to look up what else he has written.
Jul 11, 2007 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book- It's about a guy who sailed from the pacific NW to Hawaii and Fiji. He interspersed alot of his talk with commentary on philosophical books he was reading (he read A LOT on the way there, as you can imagine), which bored me at times, but overall I really liked it. Made me totally want to sail to the south pacific!!
Jul 03, 2011 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sailing-boats
5 stars. My only complaint is that I think the author confuses a close reach with a beam reach -- he describes a close reach as the wind coming at the boat nearly perpendicular to its course. Maybe it was an editing error. I do also wish that he had spent a little more time describing Tahiti. Regardless, a powerful book.
Bern J
Sep 14, 2011 Bern J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some good insights.Good writer. A few typo & factual errors.
ie Joshua Slocum was a Canadian & you can't go no more than 90 degrees North (or South for that matter).
Going offshore in a ferro cement sailboat is madness; sailing it back from Hawaii to B.C. single handed is madness cubed.
Lana Belle
Mar 27, 2013 Lana Belle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the best books on making a journey across the sea, and the accompanying travels through one's inner landscape that I have read. and so very readable. pace, tone, length... he got it all right.
Very introspective, very intellectual, mixed in with a good bit of heart. A very vivid account of what it was like for the author to be at sea.
Matt Wood
Feb 20, 2008 Matt Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
travel log about this doctor's voyage from life. makes you want to learn how to sail.
Neil Penso
Dec 28, 2010 Neil Penso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about sailing, philosophy, and figuring out life. What's not to love?
Jo Deurbrouck
Good travel writing. Good adventure writing. Good writing.
Aug 13, 2009 Momo is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just starting this sailing stories..
Jul 27, 2011 Bopfrog rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book. Well written.
Darb Connell
Darb Connell marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2016
Jose is currently reading it
Jul 21, 2016
Dan Dewitt
Dan Dewitt rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2016
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“Languor is underrated. It is not possible to be immobile in modern society except by dint of constant effort. Holding on tightly to the riverbank and fighting the current is not languor. Nobody likes that. But bone-lazy idleness hours and hours spent staring at the sky and remembering books and birthdays and great kisses: this is a pure pleasure that eludes the productive in all their confident superiority. Languor s sunny and hot. It is at home near the sea and is best appreciated in environments of beauty and limited promise. It contains within it the idea of boredom but is also colored by idle fancy and the understanding that some things proceed best with limited attention.” 3 likes
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