Ancient Chinese legends tell of heroic attempts to navigate the waterways of the Kra peninsula which divides the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. Yet despite efforts over the last century by expeditions from several Western navies, there was no record of a successful crossing—none, that is, until renowned sailor Tristan Jones took on the challenge.
To Venture Further is the inspiring story of this memorable exploit by one of the finest sailing adventure writers of our time. Accompanied by his German mate, Thomas, and three disabled Thai youths, Jones makes the short but exceedingly difficult passage across the Kra in a small seagoing fishing boat. Facing floating debris, homemade dams, mechanical failure, and precariously low funds, Jones—whose left leg was amputated several years before—remains determined to win out against all obstacles, no matter how insurmountable they seem.
With characteristically acerbic wit, Jones offers shrewd commentary on the Westernization of modern Thailand, bemoaning the destruction of a once-idyllic land. And whether confronting a band of raucous teenage monks, outwitting pirates in the Gulf of Thailand, or cruising a dry riverbed by hitching his boat onto an elephant, he continues to exhibit the awesome stubbornness and implacable courage of a man willing to sacrifice all comforts for the unknown and seemingly impossible.
Tristan Jones was one of the most prolific and best-loved authors of sailing stories. A Welshman, he left school at age fourteen to work on sailing barges and spent the rest of his life at sea—in the Royal Navy, as a delivery skipper, and as a daring adventurer in search of new seagoing challenges. Jones wrote sixteen books, including Encounters of a Wayward Sailor published by Sheridan House.
After losing a leg, Jones, a Welsh adventurer, sets out to cross the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand. He assembles a crew consisting of three handicapped Thai youths and a young German college student. Along the way, the intrepid journeyers use courage and determination to overcome language and physical barriers. At the story's beginning, one expects a melodramatic, bleeding-heart saga, yet this is not the case. Armchair sailors will cheer the crew as they sail the 38-foot, hardwood boat Henry Wagner through the Kra (aided, in one instance, by an elephant). This is a warm, human adventure. Recommended especially for Jones's fans.
The bardic Welsh author and global navigator, who among his many mighty deeds has soloed across the Atlantic nine times (he's now in his mid-60s), finally abandons a task begun in Outward Leg (1986) and carried on in The Improbable Voyage (1987) and Somewheres East of Suez (1988)—and tackles an even greater challenge. In 1982, Jones lost his left leg to virulent gout. Finding himself among the disabled, he decided to do something so daring that all the world's disabled could take heart from it: He'd circle the globe in a trimaran. Three volumes of cresting over disasters have brought him thus far to Thailand and to the idea that his first idea was unsound. Few disabled folk can afford a boat like his; he needs to do something never done before by any sailor—an audacious, high-risk spiritual journey. In a small, cheap boat, he will cross the waterways of the Kra peninsula, which divides the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. With money from a magazine article, he buys an old wooden 38-foot-long Thai boat. He already has a young German mate, Thomas (who later dies of a heart attack), and rounds up a crew of disabled, three-limbed young Thais. Getting through to this crew is like grappling linguistically with Martians, though a great rapport at last awakens. They set sail from Phuket on heavy seas in the monsoon season, since only then will the dry riverbeds of the Kra have water. If they capsize, most of the three-limbed on board will drown, including Jones, who has never learned to swim anyway. Before they arrive at Bangkok amid cheering throngs along the river's edge (part of the journey was captured on TV), the crew makes 38 portages over rocky rapids, are hauled along by an elephant, arrested as Cambodian refugees, attacked by bandits, and so on, all the while with Jones's thigh rubbed to raw meat and his foot horribly infected. A mad crawl—but marvelous.