Into My Father's Wake records Eric Best's solo, 5,000 mile journey across the Pacific in a 47-foot ketch. Written years after the voyage was completed, Best reflects not only on his navigational abilities - or, at times, lack thereof - but the meaning of the undertaking, his standing with his family, and, perhaps most important in motivating him, his relationship with his father.
Best's memoir is at time hard to follow, alternating between recaps of his struggles with celestial navigation to recalling past conversations with an unidentified therapist, but as the pages progress, this bouncing between subjects becomes easier to follow, just as it becomes clear that this scattered recounting is actually an accurate representation of the journey itself. The back-and-forth also has the added benefit of preventing the memoir from ever becoming dull with detail or didactic in meaning-of-life-type reflections.
Overall, Into My Father's Wake is an engaging tale of a daring attempt to sail solo across the Pacific. Best has succeeded in capturing the details of his journey - from his trials with navigating by sextant to his woes attempting to make casserole during a violent storm - and placing those details within an overarching search for meaning. He reflects on his journey, his own attempts to understand his journey, and in doing so, comes to terms with his relationship with his overbearing and hard-to-please father.
While bordering on cliché, Into My Father's Wake succeeds in avoiding the over-trodden waters of father-son relationships with a healthy peppering of sailing lore. All in all, it's worth the read, especially if you have even a passing interest in sailing.