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My Old Man and the Sea: A Father and Son Sail Around Cape Horn
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My Old Man and the Sea: A Father and Son Sail Around Cape Horn

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  536 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Some fathers and sons go fishing together. Some play ball. David Hays and Daniel Hays sailed 17,000 miles through the world's most feared and fabled waters in a little boat they built together. This is their story.

Alone with nothing but the mammoth waves of the Southern Ocean, the unceasing wind, a compass, a sextant and a pet cat, they voyage down the Caribbean, through

Paperback, 227 pages
Published April 26th 1996 by HarpPeren (first published 1995)
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Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Couldn't have chosen a more appropriate book to start a father/son book club with.

It's written by a father/son team about their real life experience sailing around Cape Horn in a small sailboat.

It's written journal-style taking turns between the two men. It's partially about their relationship and the struggles they both have with aging, pride and mortality, and partially about their sailing adventure.

Recommended to sailors and sons.
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
My Old Man and the Sea by David and Daniel Hays is about a father and son (respectively) and the growth of their love and respect for each other, and perhaps not inconsistently, the flowering of their independence. That in itself is not so unusual, but most fathers and sons don't build 25 ft sailing yachts to sail around Cape Horn.
The tip of South America has probably the worst weather for any kind of sea vessel of any place on earth. It can take months to beat and tack back and forth against t
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sailing fans mostly
Have you ever had a book that appears out of nowhere from unknown places once upon a time, had it subsequently follow you around everywhere for several years, taunting you at every turn as you both considered and discounted the idea of reading it?

My Old Man and the Sea was that book for the last decade for me.

Granted I do have my suspicions as to where it came from (what rhymes with bomb and has a shopping addiction?), but as to why it was acquired is something I’ll never know. It’s a father-so
This is a book written by two authors. Subtitled ‘A father and son sail round Cape Horn’ – as the voyage progresses, each contributes sometimes a paragraph, sometimes several pages. The maps are clear and helpful; though I’d have preferred all maps to have been grouped to fold-out from the front-inside. I temporarily solved that problem by keeping a pad of multi-coloured adhesive page markers to hand.

The older man is a highly respected theatre director, and a graduate of Harvard. The younger is
Quinn Helgason
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"My Old Man and The Sea" is an exceptional book to read. Especially because I am a very avid sailor, (I have been sailing since I was four). This book is about David and Daniel Hays, father and son, who sail to Cape Horn which is at the very bottom of South America. Their 17,000 mile voyage across the high waves and stormy weather of the southern ocean in their homemade sailboat with only a compass, sextant, and a pet cat, not what every father and son does. Not only is it an adventure but also ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Father and son David and Dan Hayes took their small sailboat, Sparrow, 17,000 miles from New London, CT to Cape Horn and back. They wrote this book together and what touched me the most was not the dangers they faced or the adventures they enjoyed but their relationship. Not that they always got along! There has to be a captain on a boat and father David resolved that his son Daniel would be the leader. This decision caused much pride and occasional anger. But their humor and love pretty much he ...more
Margaret Schulte
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, and I return to it over and over. There's one particular passage about cooking on the boat that I read out loud when friends are gathered for a meal on a boat. It is impossible to get through it without laughing hysterically until tears are streaming down my face. It's that funny.

But it's not just a funny, lighthearted book. What I love about it is the wide range of emotions that it brings to the reader. You don't have to be a sailor to enjoy the relationship between a father a
Aug 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book on the recommendation of a sailor in Fish Creek Wisconsin. I will give credit where it is due: sailing around Cape Horn in a twenty five foot boat is impressive. That being said, the book was less of a triumph. It lost me several times, hence the low rating.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed because I love sailing and the ocean. Nothing profound, just enjoyable.
Peter Staadecker
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great father and son story, starting (well almost) with a Melville quote from the father:

Sailor or landsman, there is some sort of a Cape Horn for all.
Boys! beware of it; prepare for it in time. Gray-beards! thank God it is
passed. And ye lucky livers, to whom, by some rare fatality, your Cape
Horns are placid as Lake Lemans, flatter not yourselves that good luck
is judgment and discretion; for all the yolk in your eggs, you might
have foundered and gone down, had the Spirit of the Cape said the w
Cynthia Moore
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Terrified of the water but I am drawn to books written about the adventures of others. Haven't been able to get through Moby Dick yet and really do not want to, simply because it was required reading in school.:) But My Old Man ... was enthralling.
Joseph Carrabis
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
My Old Man and the Sea is a combined coming-of-age, coming-to-terms and passage story, well worth a read. I was impressed by the honesty of it.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit too "I'm a guy, I'm a guy and this is male bonding" for my taste, but considering it was written in the late 90's that's understandable. The book is a lively account of a father/son trip around the Horn, dumbed down enough that non-sailors like me can enjoy the sheer adventure of the experience. The book suffers seriously from a lack of pictures, though.
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
First, to be honest, I think this is like a 4.8. I love my parents, but living a few feet from one of them for 180 plus days... I don't think so. What a story. Living in San Diego, a big part of my life has been sailing with people who are good at it. I can read a sail and the tell tails and get some good speed, but unfortunately sailing blue water requires much more than the "feel". A very close friend (Jon C) was that other kind of sailor who had the feel and was good enough at all things sail ...more
Jul 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Sailing books, especially small boat sailing, captivate me. The authors of this book are a father and son team who decide that they want to sail around Cape Horn from New York and back (1984). While much of the book describes nautical detail, I still liked the premise of sailing a little bit every day to accomplish a great task. Much preparation must be done before the journey can even start. While I didn’t understand all of the references to the building the interior of the 28 foot boat, I was ...more
Mik Hetu
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A father and son sail a 25–foot boat 17,000 miles for the main purpose of experiencing a voyage around Cape Horn, arguably the most lethal waters on the planet.
This is a cool story, told in turns by the father and the son, each from viewpoints on the opposite sides of the twenty–some years between them. Like all good adventure stories, the adventure itself — in this case, the sailing — is only the base, the platform for the story written between the lines. This book describes well voyaging on
Fernando Andresen guimaraes
An enjoyable read for sailors, fathers and sons. Good on the sailing although sailors would have wanted more. I liked the maps with the route and the plans of the boat but would have liked to see more, particularly pictures but I do understand that it happened in a pre-GoPro era. Moving the narrative from one to the other is effective and I suspect rereading will produce gems. Touching words from the father, counterpointing his own father and his son with whom he is sailing. The son showed a vul ...more
Apr 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: inspiration/Father-son/sailing
Shelves: non-fiction
I had heard good things about this book from a judge who mandated that 17 year old felon on probation read it to learn about courage. An excellent book that talked about the preparations of sailing an ocean trek with a small sailboat as well as the relationship of the father & son. Their relationship was positive but strained during the trip.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very powerful book...dragged at times, especially when it got into the really technical aspects of sailing...but it also managed to convey the loneliness and boredom that comes with being at sea for such a long time. The authors' accounts of their journey, and of their father/son relationship, was very poignant.
Jim Talbott
David Hays is a fellow synagogue member who sailed around "The Horn" with his son, and they wrote a book together about it. For those of you who read Kon Tikki as kids, this has a lot of sailing adventure and lists of supplies that in that vein... They even visit Easter Island. A fun escapist book.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nautical
A young man and his father build a boat (starting with a pre-fab hull) and then sail it west to east around Cape Horn. This is a pretty good read, although they either had a remarkably easy trip around the Horn or they downplayed the drama. As often happens in this sort of book, the cat falls overboard. I guess that's drama. Still, it's a pity.
Michael Harris
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Friends of the HHI Library find. A warm, funny and touching "adventure travel" story of a father and son building a 25 foot sailboat (with no motor) and their sail from New London CT, around Cape Horn and back to New London. Even if you don't like sailing this is still a very engaging story of this relationship.
Scott Bischke
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this books moons ago but noticed it on my shelf the other day. I am not a sailor, but I found this book to be a page turner, start to end. Two men, father and son, taking a small sailboat around the tip of South America. Frightening storms and against the sea...a riveting adventure story.
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent narrative art ,as critics suggest . Hemmingway weaves around his narration to arrive at a heart break , an irony , not dramatic but one that makes your head hang for a few seconds after you've read the last pages.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it liked it
It's an autobiography about a dude and his dad sailing from Maine, through the Panama Canal, around the tip of Cape Horn, and back to Maine again. Great book if you like sailing or travel/adventure type books.
Eileen Stoecklin
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a heart warming adventure. A father and his son, build a boat and sail around the world. It's intelligent, funny, and well written. I read this book over ten years ago but at times still think about it.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable. I gravitate toward the man vs. nature theme but this one, despite taking on something as monumental as rounding Cape Horn .......that part of the story is merely background to the dynamic of the father and son relationship. A story that will make you think of your own relationships.
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is a little slow at first. Once you get through the first chapter or two it picks up and is hard to put down. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in sailing and what it actually takes to plan and execute a trip around Cape Horn.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story written jointly by a father and son about their round trip sail from CT around Cape Horn and back. It is a story of adventure and of the evolving relationship between this father and son whose relationship prior to this trip was strained.
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you like reading stories about the sea, sailing, and relationships, this is great. Wm F Buckley's son recommended it in his memoir losing Mum and Pop. Told from two points of view, father and son, role reversals interesting.
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