Catamaran Crossing

A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua

Non-Fiction - Adventure
154 Pages
Reviewed on 07/04/2020
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Author Biography

Recently, Doug has ventured into sharing some of his most daring sailing adventures through storytelling. Years ago when he was wild and crazy, he held a US Coast Guard captain's license for chartering. He has sailed in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Aegean, the Gulf of Mexico and across the mid-Atlantic. His collection of passport visas from over forty foreign countries while traveling for pleasure, with the military, and for corporate America as a software engineer somewhat qualifies him as a world traveler.
Also, with his lifelong hobby of researching family histories, Mr. Fricke has published genealogical works covering two of his European ancestral families, both available in paperback on Amazon.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Catamaran Crossing: A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua is a work of non-fiction in the true-life adventure and narrative non-fiction sub-genres, and was penned by author Douglas Carl Fricke. Based on real events, the author takes us through a heroic adventure at sea where a group of friends takes the opportunity to sail across the Atlantic in a catamaran. A storm pushes the crew to its limits along the way, and so the reward is all the sweeter when they reach their destination. What results is an informative guide about the perils and joys of ocean sailing and a beautiful representation of our world.

Author Douglas Carl Fricke has crafted a fascinating true-life tale that reads like a narrative work of fiction, and as such has all of the adventure, description, and immersive techniques that fiction writers use to pull us into the story. I liked that these elements were interspersed with the technical details about the boat and voyage, and there was much to learn about sailing and this seaboard lifestyle along the way. The crew aboard the Toucan bond in some very touching ways, and there’s a real 80s atmosphere to the story which comes through strongly in the dialogue and atmosphere of the piece, making it very engaging and easier to contextualize. Overall, I would certainly recommend Catamaran Crossing: A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua for fans of non-fiction who want a more narrative-led and immersive adventure story.

Jack Magnus

Catamaran Crossing: A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua is a nonfiction maritime adventure book written by Douglas Carl Fricke. The author seemed to be living, as so many others do, for the weekends when he’d be aboard his trimaran and riding the winds in the Gulf of Mexico. He would sometimes think of selling his house and worldly possessions, quitting his job, and heading toward the blue waters of the Caribbean. Sadly, the dream seemed destined to remain just that -- a dream. Then something almost approaching a radical departure from everyday life was placed before him. Joni and Ted had sold their sailboat and had ordered one made in England. He asked them if they would be sailing it themselves. Yes, they were -- if he agreed to crew along with them. How could he refuse? Three weeks aboard a new Shuttleworth catamaran with friends he’d enjoyed sailing with in the past; a trans-Atlantic trip that could not be anything but exciting and the grandest of adventures. As this took place in the 1980s, the first step for the three adventurers was trips to the local library and bookstores to get any and all literature and maps in preparation for their voyage. Plans for the trip began to solidify. Fricke would meet Joni and Ted on Tenerife in the Canary Islands; they’d sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, and then head homeward up to Florida. Several weeks after Joni and Ted left for England, Fricke boarded a plane that would be the start of his adventure.

Douglas Carl Fricke’s Catamaran Crossing is a well-written and enthralling account of the author’s voyage aboard the Toucan, a newly built catamaran just purchased by his friends, Captain Ted and Joni. Fricke gives the reader an insider’s view on what’s involved in a cross-Atlantic sailing voyage. His story flows wonderfully, making it easy for the reader to feel as though they were along for the ride. My only regret was finding that the author’s vacation time had more than run out and that he had to disembark in the Caribbean. I would have loved to witness, even if only vicariously, the homecoming of the Toucan. Anyone who’s ever wondered about an adventure at sea should seriously consider reading this book -- Fricke makes it so real. Catamaran Crossing: A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua is most highly recommended.

Rabia Tanveer

In Catamaran Crossing: A Sailing Adventure from La Coruña to Antigua by Douglas Carl Fricke, the author was looking forward to a vacation, which turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime. Doug was ready to take a three-week vacation with a couple of his friends in the summer. He was supposed to fly out to Canary Island where they would take a beautiful new catamaran on a trip across the Atlantic. They were supposed to enjoy their time as they sailed towards Antigua, the Caribbean and for the most time, they did. However, lady luck turned away from them, and soon they were tested beyond what they were prepared for. They had to battle a terrifying storm and unusual circumstances. This journey proved to be exactly what they needed to enjoy a real summer.

I enjoyed this memoir more than I thought I would. Douglas Carl Fricke kept the pace fast and drew me into the story from the very beginning. The characters were incredibly detailed and rich, each of them had their personalities and it showed in the way they acted and spoke. Ted was my favorite; he was straightforward and a good kind of sarcastic. Joni, Doug, Ted, and John were the right companions to enjoy such a trip. Their banter was lively, the dialogues were revealing, and the overall adventure was very entertaining. The narrative reads like a conversation between friends; it is easy, simple, and fun. The descriptions made me feel like I was on the catamaran with them all and enjoying the salty sea spray and the hot sun. Catamaran Crossing is the perfect example of how impromptu plans are the best plans we can ever make.

Lesley Jones

Many people dream of escaping the rat race and embarking on an adventure. In the summer of 1986, Doug Fricke and his crew did exactly that. Follow their amazing journey from La Coruña in northwest Spain, across the Atlantic to Antigua in the West Indies in a catamaran named Toucan. Throughout the 16-day voyage, they face terrible storms and damage to their vessel. However, the team also learns to appreciate their amazing surroundings, nature, and many different cultures. Once they reach the West Indies, the crew has formed life long bonds and has learned so much about each other and themselves. Although the names of the crew have been changed, Catamaran Crossing by Douglas Carl Fricke is based on true events.

From the first chapter, this well-written memoir will spark your interest. The crew has such diverse personalities but the camaraderie between them is evident. Their optimistic view of the obstacles they face is unwavering and their appreciation of every experience is refreshing. The author describes everything impeccably, you feel as if you are part of the crew. I could almost taste the salt air. I loved the reference to historical events. As the journey progresses, you learn so much about each crew member. I admired Joni's love of animals and Jim's eventful and heroic past. There are many moments when you feel the crew is not going to be successful and these tension-filled moments were so compelling. The memoir is not only filled with exciting and tense situations but also fantastic humor. My particular favorite was when they discussed safety measurements to prevent falling overboard; "If it's me, throw over a flask of rum and keep sailing." The bond the crew made during the journey was heartwarming and they worked exceptionally well as a team, each bringing invaluable strength to ensure a successful voyage. With a foreword by boat designer John Shuttleworth, Catamaran Crossing by Douglas Carl Fricke is filled with comical and interesting real events that will almost certainly have you reaching for your suitcase and embarking on your own unique adventure.

A Jalbert

You don’t need to be a sailor to enjoy this book...

...although you’ll undoubtedly learn some things about the sport along the way. Sailing (real sailing as is described in this book) as it turns out however, is far more than just sport: it’s an art, a discipline, a lifestyle, and a striking metaphor for a number of things, freedom among them.

The short memoir gives the reader a glimpse into a three week slice of author’s life when he helped crew a 42-foot catamaran named Toucan across the Atlantic Ocean. An accomplished, very knowledgeable sailor himself, Fricke’s writing style is crisp, and the narrative is interesting and easy to follow. Fricke has mastered the “show don’t tell” art of storytelling. Through his detailed stories he paints a realistic picture of the kind of adventure most of us will never have. 

His descriptions of sailing for days through a storm, the disorienting doldrums, and mechanical problems are told without unnecessary over-dramatization and the result is a credible, very engrossing book that I highly recommend.

Gini Rifkin

The allure of the sea has always called to humankind, and Douglas Carl Fricke certainly answered that call.
Fricke has written a wonderful firsthand accounting of his catamaran crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The spirit of adventure, the camaraderie of the crew, and the bravery shown by all onboard would have made Thor Heyerdahl smile. I soon learned that facing down the ocean in a small craft, with no land in sight, takes a special kind of person.
The writing style and pacing kept the story flowing even when more in-depth sailing information was addressed. And the author’s gift for describing his world with but a few well-chosen words, made the people and places around him come alive. I especially enjoyed reading about the first mate, Joni. Adept in the galley or at the helm, she kept their bellies full regardless of the rolling waves or what was available in the larder.
This nonfiction read is set in 1986 with the mention of songs, books, and the social culture of the 70’s and 80’s nicely sprinkled in around the sailing lingo. I also found the historical references, and the chapter quotes of interest.
If you’d like to learn what sailing is really like, you’re sure to enjoy this adventure of the high seas.

Tobias Endress

Crossing an ocean with a sailing boat is a great adventure. Doug’s book Catamaran Crossing is a vivid story about an Atlantic crossing in the year 1986. While some things for sure changed since then - we have now way more accurate satellite navigation and equipment like AIS and Iridium - the fundamental challenges and experiences are quite similar. I quite liked his description of the day-to-day routine and crew spirit during the crossing and how he managed to take the opportunity to participate despite his tight work schedule. Still, I think it isn’t easy to make such a trip on a tight schedule... fortunately I had more time allocated for our Atlantic crossing and to enjoy the Caribbean. One friend of mine once said “A sailor with time always has good weather” and I think there is some truth in it.

The book is informative, well written and easy to read. It takes you onboard with a sympathetic crew. It is almost like a friend tells you the story of this adventure. Although I don’t really share the general conclusion of the Toucan crew ‘not to sail across the ocean again’ (as for me it is a great thing!) I would recommend this book not only for sailors but everyone who is interested in adventure, the sea and outdoor fun! Take the opportunity to read this book and get inspired for your own adventures!