People are crossing oceans these days in everything from yachts to jeeps, but perishing few of them seem to enjoy themselves. They treat their voyages like Everests to be conquered, and then go on to write stiff-upper-lip specials that pall. Now, for something a little different, we have Dick Zantzinger, who sailed around the world aboard a 35-foot sloop. He has written a book (Log of the Molly Brown, Westover Publishing Co., Richmond, Va., $9.95) that sounds like a 31,000-mile pub crawl.
As Zantzinger explains it, he refused to join the ranks of "yachties" who infest the world's ports, a yachty being a vagabond sailor who lives by his wits, a sailboat bum who lives by other people's bread.
Born and raised on the shores of the Chesapeake—and an expert sailor—Zantzinger took leave of his excellence long enough to get lost with the Molly Brown in the Atlantic and later to have to ask the way to the Panama Canal. Which means, as you can guess, he takes ocean walloping pretty casually. He certainly makes it sound deceptively simple. "You could always get from port to port by sheer instinct for self-preservation and, of course, a bit of luck," he says. "If charts were available and the running lights worked, O.K. If not, it was still O.K. You just made do and enjoyed the scenery."
Skirting a tempting shore on the lonely coast of Australia, Zantzinger and crew stop to picnic. When the weather turns insolent, making Molly Brown's run for her next port an uncomfortable dead beat to windward, Zantzinger merely turns and comfortably reaches elsewhere, even though it may be a thousand miles off course. Wherever he sails, the happy-go-lucky author finds a rousing good time. He leaves Connie in Panama. Gail joins him in Durban, replacing Maryrose, who came aboard in the Galapagos to cruise with him across the Pacific.
Everywhere, the beer flows by the bucketful. At Panama Zantzinger and friends save the leaky schooner Frie by lightening her cargo of Tuborg beer. At Makatea they wash down roast pig with tuba, a fermented coconut brew. Mourns the author, outward bound across the wide Indian Ocean without a drop of whiskey (the money had run out in Bali), "...it is like crossing the U.S. in a covered wagon without stopping at a single saloon."
In his future Zantzinger sees a bigger boat, one that will carry him and a band of good types to Cape Horn and Pitcairn, with stops in Indonesia and Africa on the return leg. In between he is giving thought to a layover in Red China. Not because it is there, or any such high-flown nonsense, but because he hears they've got a great thing in rice wine.