Airborne is how William F. Buckley, Jr. describes his sail across the wide Atlantic with his son and five friends. The trip, for fifteen years a dream, for fifteen months a planned operation, was always a risk: one doesn’t set out haphazardly in a small sailboat across 4,400 miles of ocean, and Buckley’s account of perils of the sea as experienced by himself since he acquired his first sailboat at age thirteen is at once graphic, instructive, and terrifying. But, we learn quickly, the concern is mostly for the prospect of thirty days and thirty nights away from the cosmopolitan jungle to which he and his friends are accustomed; their lair, so to speak. But it happened: notwithstanding vicissitudes amusing, annoying, and even dangerous, suddenly the schooner, and the entire trip, were airborne, and the experience resulted in a fusion of hopes, fears, ambitions, and pleasures that lifts the book from the category of mere chronicles of the sea, into a chronicle of our time, a passage of the spirit.
William Frank Buckley Jr. was an American public intellectual, conservative author, and political commentator. His avocational interests included music and sailing, both of which he excelled at. He died in 2008.
Buckley’s long-praised wit naturally shines through in the story of a long-planned Atlantic crossing from Miami, Florida, to Spain, with stops in Bermuda and the Azores, aboard his 60-foot ketch Cyrano, his favorite of the boats he owned over his lifetime, according to his son Christopher. But along with that wit Buckley delivers one of the more realistic glimpses at sailing, without glossing over the unpleasant parts, that can be found in nonfiction sailing books. . . . Christopher, who wrote his own book related to the trip, brings moments of delight, but none more pleasurable than the new foreword, which is reason enough to upgrade to the new version of the book.