Berserk : My Voyage to the Antarctic in a Twenty-Seven-Foot Sailboat

Berserk : My Voyage to the Antarctic in a Twenty-Seven-Foot Sailboat


In 1998, David Mercy had spent the better part of a year traveling through South America when he reached Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost tip of the continent. As a world traveler, the only continent he had not yet visited-Antarctica-beckoned from across the treacherous waters of the Roaring Forties, an infamous graveyard for ships. Mercy searched a local port for passage, but ships booked for scientific expeditions would not take him, and the tourist cruises didn't appeal to his sensibilities or his pocketbook. He almost gave up when word came from the docks. The old salts were talking about a nineteen-year-old Norwegian who was rigging his twenty-seven-foot fiberglass sailboat for an adventure quite beyond the pale. There in the harbor lay the little boat, its name crudely inscribed on the hull with short lengths of black electrical tape: Berserk.

A young Argentine who had walked out of central casting-and who had also walked out on his wife of one week-rounded out the boat's complement. As the three greenhorn sailors set sail, they could only vaguely apprehend the tumultuous storms, mishaps, and emergencies that loomed before them like the craggy outline of the world's most uninhabitable continent. Author David Mercy describes what it is like to withstand heaving seas and crushing waves for days on end, seasickness, and the first sight of the treacherous "growlers" or baby icebergs. For a while the young Argentine mutinied and refused to come out of the cabin. Subsisting mainly on candy bars and peeping owlishly from belowdecks, his seasick descent into madness hampers their ability to control the boat in dangerous conditions.

But there are also adventures with elephant seals sunning themselves on the banks of Antarctica, vast ice caves, and whaling camps populated by antisocial miscreants. Returning was quite another matter, an experience reminiscent of Shackleton's odyssey. Throughout the voyage, Mercy took videotape of what would become an immensely successful Norwegian documentary, and took notes for this humorous and well-drawn yarn. For adventure lovers, as Melville once wrote, "this is what ye shipped for, men!"
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Book details

  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • English
  • 1592282776
  • 9781592282777

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