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Coasting: A Private Voyage

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  277 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Put Jonathan Raban on a boat and the results will be fascinating, and never more so than when he’s sailing around the serpentine, 2,000-mile coast of his native England. In this acutely perceived and beautifully written book, the bestselling author of Bad Land turns that voyage–which coincided with the Falklands war of 1982-into an occasion for meditations on his country, ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Vintage (first published February 15th 1987)
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Nov 13, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it
Reading this book at the moment and finding it very satisfying and up there with Passage to Juneau - by the same author and in a similar vein. I do worry about his relationships with women though. At the start he decribes being galvanised by earlier sailing books written by authors with "philistine certainties .... and chauvinistic attitudes towards women". Not referring to himself of course, but most of the characters he connects with in the book are men, and he talks about his relationship wit ...more
Gail Pool
Apr 12, 2015 Gail Pool rated it it was amazing
To some degree the traveler is always an outsider. For the travel writer this poses a risk: there are journeys where he never gains entry; his account is that of a stranger in a land he doesn’t understand. Yet it can also work to his advantage: the very detachment of being an outsider can serve to sharpen his perceptions and observations.

In "Coasting", Jonathan Raban plays the outsider’s role wonderfully as a traveler in his own land. In 1982, at 40, the British travel writer set out to sail aro
Robert Ditterich
Feb 24, 2016 Robert Ditterich rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Raban is not your average escapist writing about the bliss of being footloose in a boat. Where you might expect this simply to be a salty tale, it turns out being a wonderful insight into the state of Britain in the early 1980's, as glimpsed from the cockpit of his boat and his venturing into port as he makes his way around an island in a state of turbid change. He is an outsider in many ways but this is a very useful filter for his musings on the nature of a population surrounded by water, at a ...more
Cedric Rose
Mar 26, 2013 Cedric Rose rated it really liked it
If you're an anglophile and a boat-o-phile and a limnophile, you're going to love this book. Raban delivers his usual heavy dose of esotera and history... some of it in the making here: The Falklands conflict gets under way, coal miners are going on strike, and England is decaying as Raban sets sailing in the Gosfield Maid.
Nov 20, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing
Read this with 'The kingdom by the sea' by Paul Theroux. Theroux walks around the UK, Raban sails. They meet each other and both report the meeting in their book. Let's say they have a different perspective. I like Raban's best - and he's a better writer than Theroux.
Jul 03, 2016 Maddy rated it really liked it
Best find yet from the free little library box in my neighbourhood. My edition is from the 1980s and doesn't have a subtitle. I was really drawn in to Raban's prose but part way through the book was a little disappointed that (a) he doesn't talk about that many British coast towns (I can only remember the Isle of Man, Fowey, Brighton, Rye, London, Hull, Essex) - that's what the book is supposed to be about! and (b) he seems to have a passive-agressive vendetta against Paul Theroux, which he insi ...more
Stacy Bearse
Dec 17, 2012 Stacy Bearse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a wonderful book, less about sailing, and more about life in England in the early 1980s. Raban hugged the British coast during his 3000-mile journey, frequently stopping in ports to interact with the locals and learn about their history. His perspectives on the state of England's fishing and coal industries were depressing when written in 1982, and would be even more disappointing if written today. Raban is particularly nettled by the faux history re-created by towns and villages despera ...more
Maurits Vlugt
I registered a book at!
Bill Ibelle
Sep 01, 2014 Bill Ibelle rated it it was amazing
If you are a sailor, this is a great read. If you're not a sailor, it's still quite interesting.
Bob Roller
Jul 01, 2008 Bob Roller rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: y'all
“Knocking about from port to port, you keep on going past the port you originally started out from. In that regard at least, coasting is a lot more lifelike than those epic journeys which reduce the world to a magnificent straight line of conquest; and the coaster’s chronic itch, to be moving on only in order to get nearer home, his never-quite-knowing whether he’s returning or running away, are more real, in a daily way, than the exotic compulsions of the serious travelers who voyage intrepidly ...more
Michael Harris
Mar 16, 2013 Michael Harris rated it really liked it
After reading my first of His Passage to Juneau, I ordered three others from Amazon. Coasting, published in 1987, chronicles his journey sailing completely around England Scotland and Wales. He weaves the coastal cites and towns into a personal story and one heavily laced with quotations from writings about sailing or the places he visits. His style is perfect as you begin to feel you are a stowaway on the boat.
Jul 30, 2011 Susan added it
Recommended by various crew members of the Annabel J on a voyage from St. Mawes to The Isles of Scilly, I found the book on the "take me" table of a B&B back after returning to land, and read it cover to cover. Already a fan of Raban, I wondered how I missed it before, then realized it came into my life at exactly the right time.
Jan 25, 2010 Portobellord rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I came away from this feeling like I hadn't read anything at all. That is to say, it felt like there was nothing to this book. Perhaps this was too personal, full of details and musings only the author could enjoy. His book Passage to Juneau is much better.
Fiona Hopkins
Sep 24, 2010 Fiona Hopkins rated it it was ok
I found this to be rather boring and a little pretentious. I don't feel anything after finishing this other than relieved! Wouldn't recommend.
Tattered Cover Book Store
Sept 08 pick for the Travel Lovers' Book Club, discussion 9-8-08 at 5:30 pm at Tattered Cover Colfax Ave.
Oct 27, 2008 Leah rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
Parts of it I really liked, parts of it I just couldn't getinto and skipped over.
Discontinuous Permafrost
Jun 13, 2012 Discontinuous Permafrost rated it really liked it
Good book by an author that is great at writing about the sea.
Aug 10, 2012 David added it
I love sailing books, so this was a natural.
Peter Boyles
Jul 09, 2013 Peter Boyles rated it liked it
nice assumptions
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“People who live on continents get into the habit of regarding the ocean as journey's end, the full stop at the end of the trek. For people who live on islands, the sea is always the beginning. It's the ferry to the mainland, the escape route from the boredom and narrowness of home.” 0 likes
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