> Skip to content
Play sample
  • Published: 3 December 2024
  • ISBN: 9781802063097
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $28.99

Sailing Alone

A History

What compels a person to set out to sea? A solo sailor explores the exhilarating and frightening world of the wide ocean

Sailing on a boat by yourself out at sea and out of sight of land can be exhilarating or terrifying, compelling or tedious - sometimes it can be all of these things just in one morning. It is an adventure at odds with our normal, sociable lives, carried out floating on a medium wholly inimical to our existence. But the deep ocean is also a remarkable place on which to think.

Richard King's enormously engaging and curious new book is about the debt we owe to solo sailors: women and men, young and old, who have set out alone. Spending weeks and months alone, slowly, quietly and close to the ocean surface is to create the world's largest laboratory: an endlessly changing, capricious and startling place in which to observe oneself, the weather, the stars and myriad sea creatures, from the tiniest to the most massive and threatening.

This is a book for anyone who is fascinated by sailing, solitude and the vast seas that cover so much of our planet.

  • Published: 3 December 2024
  • ISBN: 9781802063097
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $28.99

Praise for Sailing Alone

Praise for Richard J. King's Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick: 'Anyone who loves Moby-Dick should read this book'

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea

A superb work of popular scholarship that rivals the best books of maritime non-fiction currently in print ... a joy to read.

Dan Brayton, author of Shakespeare’s Ocean

A wide-ranging, highly personal, richly eclectic, and extremely well-researched book whose style and humour, combined with its rigor, suggest the potential for popularity beyond the fascinations of this self-confessed whalehead ... A contemporary, witty, almost postmodern field guide.

Philip Hoare, author of The Whale

A marvellous guide to the magic and mystery that was Melville's gift to us.

Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Becoming Wild

Richard King is a superb and gifted writer, and Sailing Alone is an exceptional book. Into his account of his own singlehanded ocean crossing, he has woven a rare and compelling history of the real explorers, the extraordinary 'ordinary' people-men, women, and even children-who took off alone, in tiny, often crude boats, and found what we are all searching for. Here is the real story of what it's like to be alone at sea. A real achievement that will provide inexhaustible re-reading, Sailing Alone belongs on the very small shelf of the true classics of the sea.

Peter Nichols, author of Sea Change and A Voyage for Madmen

Sailing Alone is a beacon, a lighthouse of luminance for the experienced and inexperienced alike. Richard King's insightful reflections on the stories of lone voyagers make this required reading for all who dream fervently of such voyages. A nuanced study in aspiration, endurance, terror, and triumph, it's a treasure.

Jon Wilson, Founder, WoodenBoat

Those who have chosen to face the dangers of the ocean alone are a colourful and inventive bunch ... I was delighted to read of [King's] amazement.

David Mills, The Times

The book is as much a feat as the crossing ... something to be marvelled at ... I’ve already started plotting my own ocean crossing.

Peter Hoskin, Prospect

An engaging, beautifully written history of single-handed sailing ... Packed with ripping yarns and driven characters.

The Economist

First-hand accounts evoke the elation, frustrations and dangers of life in a small boat crossing the ocean ... King assembles a truly eccentric, even flamboyant cast of solo sailors.

Victor Mallet, Financial Times

Brilliantly written, I have been drawn back to Sailing Alone again and again; each new reading brings a different perspective, and has also introduced me to remarkable sailors I really should have known about.

Practical Boat Owner

King has an academic's research skills and a deep appreciation of the link between solo sailing and writing. He has also had the ocean-time to develop questions that could never have been formulated from a library ... An important, stimulating book.

Yachting Monthly