Rowing for My Life

Two Oceans, Two Lives, One Journey

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About The Book

In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed's Wild, one woman's transformational journey rowing across the savage sea—twice.

Just out of college, newly wed, and set up with her husband Curt in a small town in New York, Kathleen Saville quickly realized that an ordinary life working for a better used car and a home with a mortgage would never satisfy her thirst for freedom and adventure. The year before, she and Curt had retraced Henry David Thoreau's canoe journey through the Maine Woods, and both were veteran rowers. Inspired, she suggested that they row across the Atlantic Ocean. Returning to her hometown, living on a shoestring, they built their own twenty-five-foot ocean rowboat. They set out from Morocco and, tested by adverse currents, gales, and their own inexperience, accomplished the near impossible.

Three years later, while they attempted to row across the Pacific, Curt was washed overboard and lost their sextant—their only means of navigation. Now, besides confronting fatigue, storms, sharks, and deadly reefs, they had to find a way to avoid becoming lost at sea and succumbing to starvation. Their ordeal in completing their crossing exposed the fissures in their marriage, and in this and subsequent adventures, Kathleen was forced to confront the difference between courage and foolhardiness. Cinematic, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant, her story of an unraveling marriage is also the account of finding her true self amid the life-and-death challenges at sea.

“It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone.”—Henry David Thoreau

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade (February 2017)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781628726886

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Raves and Reviews

“A powerful, captivating account of a husband and wife who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans together in a rowboat they built themselves. The writing is beautiful, and Kathleen Saville’s perspective is clear-eyed, honest, and poignant. This is a wonderful book.”
—Reeve Lindbergh, bestselling author of Under a Wing and No More Words

"This is a tale of adventure in its purest form—audacious expeditions by rowboat across vast, unforgiving oceans. It is also an unflinchingly honest account of personal sacrifices made for the sake of exploration. Kathleen Saville describes how her extreme experiences defined her life and brought her spiritual peace but also threatened her marriage and eventually led to the ultimate cost—the loss of a partner driven by the need for heroic journeys." —Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow and Explorers of the Infinite

"In a world that is trying night and day to make us think and behave the way the manufactured media dictates, it is important to wake up to the idea that we are more than that. Our precious lives deserve exploration. Kathleen Saville does just this in her very steady, pragmatic voice. You are more than you know, she tells us. She knows, because she went looking." —Jan Reynolds, extreme athlete and award-winning author of High Altitude Woman and other books

“An artist’s defining responsibility is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports. Kathleen Saville is an artist as well as a true adventurer, a word much debased in our time, and Rowing for My Life is her report from the edge. Possibly only those who have crossed oceans in small boats can fully appreciate her and Curt, her late husband’s, achievements, and I do. But beyond the rowing is a remarkably frank and compelling portrayal of a marriage between two complex people, and writing that is often sublime.” —Webb Chiles, author and world-record-holding solo sailor

"A thoughtful memoir . . . Experienced sailors and thrill seekers will especially enjoy the details of the ocean adventures, from being washed overboard to steering clear of dangerous reefs and navigating by the stars.” –Booklist

“Saville's story offers a wild ride through gale-force winds and bioluminescent waters, relentless waves and recurring nausea, flying fish and lurking sharks. Rowing for My Life is both harrowing and heartwarming.”—Seven Days (Vermont)

“A powerful, captivating account of a husband and wife who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans together in a rowboat they built themselves. The writing is beautiful, and Kathleen Saville’s perspective is clear-eyed, honest, and poignant. This is a wonderful book.”
—Reeve Lindbergh, bestselling author of Under a Wing and No More Words

"This is a tale of adventure in its purest form—audacious expeditions by rowboat across vast, unforgiving oceans. It is also an unflinchingly honest account of personal sacrifices made for the sake of exploration. Kathleen Saville describes how her extreme experiences defined her life and brought her spiritual peace but also threatened her marriage and eventually led to the ultimate cost—the loss of a partner driven by the need for heroic journeys." —Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow and Explorers of the Infinite

"In a world that is trying night and day to make us think and behave the way the manufactured media dictates, it is important to wake up to the idea that we are more than that. Our precious lives deserve exploration. Kathleen Saville does just this in her very steady, pragmatic voice. You are more than you know, she tells us. She knows, because she went looking." —Jan Reynolds, extreme athlete and award-winning author of High Altitude Woman and other books

“An artist’s defining responsibility is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports. Kathleen Saville is an artist as well as a true adventurer, a word much debased in our time, and Rowing for My Life is her report from the edge. Possibly only those who have crossed oceans in small boats can fully appreciate her and Curt, her late husband’s, achievements, and I do. But beyond the rowing is a remarkably frank and compelling portrayal of a marriage between two complex people, and writing that is often sublime.” —Webb Chiles, author and world-record-holding solo sailor

"A thoughtful memoir . . . Experienced sailors and thrill seekers will especially enjoy the details of the ocean adventures, from being washed overboard to steering clear of dangerous reefs and navigating by the stars.” –Booklist

“Saville's story offers a wild ride through gale-force winds and bioluminescent waters, relentless waves and recurring nausea, flying fish and lurking sharks. Rowing for My Life is both harrowing and heartwarming.”—Seven Days (Vermont)

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