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October 29 , 2007

Running Away to Sea

Round the World on a Tramp Freighter


At a turning point in his life, George Fetherling embarked on an adventure to sail round the world on one of the last of the tramp freighters. The four-month voyage carried him 30,000 nautical miles from Europe via the Panama Canal to the South Pacific and back by way of Singapore, Indonesia, the Indian Ocean, and Suez.

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Written with dash, colour, and droll humour, Fetherlings narrative is peopled by a rich cast of characters, from the Foreign Legionnaires of French Polynesia to the raskol gangs of Papua New Guinea. The author captures the reality of life aboard a working cargo ship – the boredom, the seclusion, the differences of nationality and culture that isolation and cramped quarters seem to exaggerate. But the routine of loneliness or tranquillity is punctuated by moments of near-panic – shipboard fires, furniture-smashing storms, even a brush with pirates in the Straits of Malacca.

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