In 1949, a young Dartmouth student named William Stark left his study-abroad program in Zurich for a berth as an Ordinary Seaman on a Finnish windjammer that would carry 60,000 sacks of barley 12,000 miles in 128 days from Australia to Europe, around Cape Horn. This is Stark’s engrossing memoir of the end of a long tradition of young men going to sea in the Great Age of Sail, and the final rounding by a commercial sailing ship of fearsome Cape Horn — the veritable Mount Everest of sailing. Stark vividly chronicles the Pamir’s journey through the world’s stormiest seas as he worked brutal four-hour watches on decks awash with the huge swells of the Southern Ocean, and scrambled up ice-coated rigging to manhandle sails on masts that were up to twenty stories high. Stark experienced the shipboard life of the seventeenth century in 1949 on a vessel longer than a football field. Contrasting the romance and realities of life on the sea, and poignantly evoking the passionate love affair he left behind, Stark wrote a thrilling narrative that brings closure to the era of Cape Horn merchant sailors that began more than three centuries before. Pages of memorable photographs are included.

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