Marta Komar's Reviews > Droga Na Horn

Droga Na Horn by Krzysztof Baranowski
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it was amazing
bookshelves: biografia, polskie

I like stories about extreme sports, but till this book I’ve only known great stories about mountains, climbing, snow, cold, too little air etc. I was totally surprised when I’ve realized that the stories about sailing are even more exciting. And it has begun totally by chance. I’ve received a bunch of sailing books from one of the zero-waste groups. Someone was cleaning his grandfather's home, and wanted to give books to someone who will read them one more time. And this was me. After a few weeks I was ready to pick one piece of this pile. This was “A way to Cape Horn'' [Droga na Horn, transl. MK]. I didn’t know what it’s about, but it was a surprisingly good choice!

Now Krzysztof Baranowski is now an elderly man, but in 1973, when he was writing this book, he was a young and handsome captain, who liked lonely sailing by the oceans. “A way to Cape Horn” is a kind of diary from his first expedition around the world. He was one of the three the very first sailors from Poland, and one of the several people in the whole world who achieved this goal. This is a thing!

Ambitious captain

Baranowski wanted to flow around the world in a great style. He chose one of the most dangerous ways - through the Roaring Forties, as we can read in Wikipedia, is an ocean area that has very strong winds and frequent storms. It’s an area “though to navigate and dangerous for ships”. Baranowski writes that this trip was wild and in the cyclone season even really dangerous. But he didn’t have a choice if he wanted to complete his simple idea: he wanted to flow around the world through this way. And he did it despite many odds. His yacht has flipped around three times and water made a lot of demolitions. He lost the auto-rudder (I’m not sure this is the right word in sailor speak in English). He was fighting with big waves that were 10 - 20 meters high. I can’t even imagine how it was possible in such a small boat.

Only he knew how much effort he needed to put in changing big and bulky sails and their repairs. In fact, if we can look at this book from some distance, we could see that this was a whole-time juggling names of sales and changes. Maybe those readers who don’t like to sail, these parts could be weary, but I liked it. I’ve almost been able to see all this through my eyes. I love to sail, even though I didn’t sail through seas, only in Mazury’s lakes in Poland. I don’t have any sailing license also, because I didn’t need to “draw the ropes”. I was the entertainment staff and my duty was to play the guitar and sing... and watch out the boom. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

The charm of the books from before several dozens of years

It always amuses me when the book is written straightforwardly. The same is with Baranowski’s book. It is sincere. Inside there is no political correctness (exaggerated nowadays). For example in one moment the captain writes honestly, that he threw away some litter to the ocean. Today he probably would have some eco-freaks on his head with all this no-waste slogans.

In general the book is engaging from the very first page. The Captain is a very good writer (he was also a journalist) and combines nature descriptions and deep thoughts with daily simple routine and sailors regime. There is a lot of charm in this story, and it’s a style I really like: with humour, dynamical, without unnecessary words. There is a lot of black humor also and an optimistic attitude. For example in the moment when it starts to stink under his deck. He realizes that all eggs have gone bad. These eggs were prepared in a special way before the expedition but it turned out that it didn’t work. Baranowski regrets all those meals with these eggs and writes sarcastically about his friends' “great” idea of “special preparations”. Or the different moment when he makes a list of the most important needs and the first position is a hot shower. We can feel the lonely trip mood. We also know that behind the words there is a normal person.

And the composition of the book is nice too. It starts in half of the expedition, and to the very beginning we come back after a few chapters. This is definitely not boring “I’ve made sail and came back”.

Action all the time

I really love reading books about climbing in the Himalayas, but in this sport, dynamic periods are mixed with long time filled with boredom and cold. In sailing books it's the opposite. There is a dynamic period almost all the time. The water has to flow. These big waves that Baranowski describes are totally frightening for me, especially in loneliness. I can't even imagine it, just can’t.

Sometimes it needs only to start from some great book to catch the fascination about something. Baranowski’s book is the great position to fall in sailing. Unfortunately it’s available only in Polish.

PS The best music to read the book with is the longplay of Vangelis “Antarctica”.

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Reading Progress

December 13, 2020 – Started Reading
December 13, 2020 – Shelved
December 13, 2020 – Shelved as: biografia
December 13, 2020 – Shelved as: polskie
Finished Reading

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