JOHN SMITH … MERMAID OF CARIACOU

Notre ami, John Smith est un navigateur Américain que nous avons rencontré à Juan Griego au Venezuela… John navigue sans moteur sur son voilier qui porte le nom de   »MERMAID OF CARIACOU » .

Nous avons partagé de bons moments avec lui,  surtout sur notre bateau ou il venait prendre le petit déjeuner en notre compagnie. Il nous racontait alors un peu de ce qu’il était et ce qu’il avait fait à terre comme sur la mer…Cet homme exceptionnel est  retraité de la guerre du Vietnam,  écrivain et marin de légende !…   Auteur du livre Little Fish Big Pond par John Smith.


This slim paperback doesn’t tell Captain Smith’s story so much as let you drop in on a few dozen conversations he’s had with himself, culled from his 30-plus years of living life as if it were an experiment to prove that you don’t need money as long as you can catch fish.

The 36 short offerings here cannot be called chapters, but they are like pieces of a mosaic. There is no order, chronological or otherwise, to guide the reader on his journey, but lots of entertaining anecdotes sprinkled liberally with philosophy, history, politics, ecology and common sense, Smith-style. Throw in a poem or two and a single page devoted to the loneliness of a solo sailor and you have a collection highlighting the genius and madness of the author.

He’s a rambling man, but when it comes to prose, the word suggests a lack of editing, the careless organization of material, even a breakdown of logic (and tense) from one paragraph to the next. On the back cover we are told this an « eclectic collection, » and I would agree, although on occasion the eclectric has been mixed with the electric (i.e kool Aid) and the result borders on the incoherent. but its honest and heartfelt.

The best pieces of this mosaic have to do with the stories of Smith becalmed, Smith on charter (ha!), Smith with a mutinouse crew taking turns hand-pumping the bilge and hoping for a landfall somewhere —anywhere —in the next 48 hours. The weakest stories are those where the philosophy of Smith dominates; they can’t hold a candle to the yarn of getting the Mermaid’s bow stove in on the same rock in St. Vincent that Bernard Moitessier once ran aground upon, or surviving Hurricane Hugo and helping others endure the stress of finding a dead cruiser on a yacht.

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