Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern
Farrar Straus Giroux
Rating: 5 stars
Ellen Prentiss wasn't like other girls. She fell in love with sea at an early age. Her father, loving and appreciating that she loved the water as much as he loved it, taught her all that he knew about hoisting sails, steering a schooner, and most important of all: navigating. Every chance she got, she was practicing one of these skills with her father's trading schooner.
She loved racing any and all ship around her. Her father's advice was always the same: "A true navigator must have the caution to read the sea, as well as the courage to dare the wind."
Decades later, when Ellen found a man who loved the sea as much as she did and who encouraged her sea skills as much as her father did, she married him. The two soon were charged with navigating the Flying Cloud on a fifteen-thousand-mile journey from New York City down to Cape Horn and up to San Francisco. The Gold Rush was on, and they were hurrying to get passengers and cargo to America's West Coast.
If they could make the trip faster than any other ship, they would receive a bonus and the world record. Ellen was excited--and determined.
Ellen pushed the Flying Cloud hard at the start of the ship, covering hundreds of miles each day. But she pushes it too hard and the mainmast rips. The damage humbles Ellen, and makes her reconsider how hard she pushed the ship. The next few weeks she sets a cautious course, catching only gentle breezes. Then she remembers her father's advice and thinks "There is no glory in second place. Now is the time for courage."
And so, Ellen dares the wind and leads the Flying Cloud through dangerous waters, a frightening storm, and around the cliffs of Cape Horn. They charged north again, once again covering hundreds of miles each day. After eighty-nine days at sea, they reached San Francisco in world-record time.
This is an exciting true story--an example of how history really does churn out the best stories around. (Congratulations to Tracey Fern who writes the story with such suspense.) I really want to imprint Ellen's father's words in all of my kids' brains. You must have caution and courage, I want them to see, and the wisdom to know when to use which. Caution and courage, caution and courage, caution and courage.