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All Hands on Deck: A Modern-Day High Seas Adventure to the Far Side of the World (Hardcover)
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A maritime adventure memoir that follows a crew of misfits hired to sail an 18th-century warship 6,000 miles to Hollywood
“Thrilling . . . this is an adventure story of the highest order.” —Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the National Book Award–winning In the Heart of the Sea and Travels with George
In the late 1990s, Patrick O’Brian’s multimillion-copy-selling historical novel series—the Aubrey–Maturin series—seemed destined for film. With director Peter Weir and stars Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany signed on for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, there was one problem: The Rose, the replica 18th-century warship that filmmakers bought for the production, was in Newport, Rhode Island, two oceans and thousands of miles away from Hollywood.
Enter a ragtag crew of 30 oddballs and tall ship fanatics, including Will Sofrin, at the time a 21-year-old wooden-boat builder and yacht racer looking for some direction in his life. Together, the crew embarked on an epic adventure, racing a ticking clock and fighting against Mother Nature, and occasionally on another, to deliver the Rose, hopefully in one piece.
All Hands on Deck is Sofrin’s account of this unforgettable voyage. It’s a story of reinvention, of hard work on the high seas, of love, and of survival. The crew of the Rose effectively went back in time, brought to life the old ways of a forgotten world, and barely lived to tell the tale. All Hands on Deck is a gripping story and a must-read for fans of O’Brian’s novels and the Academy Award–winning film adaptation.
About the Author
Will Sofrin is a master shipwright who has taught at MIT and has built boats for Billy Joel and Estée Lauder. As a former professional sailor and licensed captain, he has tracked more than 30,000 blue-water miles. Today he is a freelance writer for numerous maritime periodicals, continues to race sailboats, and explores the coast of California with his wife and seven-year-old daughter. All Hands on Deck is his first book.
“Fact stalks fiction in this epic tale. Huzzah!”
— Peter Weir, Academy Award–winning co-writer, producer, and director of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
“High-spirited and finely detailed . . . Sofrin intersperses details of life aboard the Rose with tidbits of tall ship history and enlightening commentary on Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels . . . this adventure tale will delight sailors of all stripes.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Enthralling . . . Experienced sailors and landlubbers alike will find Sofrin’s work a pleasure to read.”
“Sofrin spares little detail, making all the issues of sailing and shipbuilding much less intimidating through carefully rendered diagrams, with all parts of the ship’s superstructure and complex rigging meticulously labeled. Fans of the movie and serious sailors will revel in Sofrin’s tale.”
“A tale worthy of Patrick O’Brian himself … All Hands on Deck is a vivid reminder not only of how far the sailing world has come, but also of how much we still share with the Jack Tars who came before us.”
“All Hands on Deck...offers a special, tightly packaged vignette exploring the serendipity of this brief but compelling career as a shipwright and deckhand.”
— Woodenboat Magazine
“A thrilling account. Readers needn’t have ever set foot on a boat to enjoy this story.”
— Tracy Edwards, trailblazing round-the-world sailor
“Will Sofrin takes us on an unbelievable ride on the high seas . . . I have played pretend
on the open ocean. Will Sofrin has lived the real experiences and survived to tell the tale.”
— Dan Shotz, executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning Starz series Black Sails
“Like many a sailor, Will Sofrin is a wicked good storyteller, with a jaundiced eye, an impish sense of humor, and a nose for the telling detail. Lovers of the Aubrey-Maturin novels and the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World will find his account a worthy addition to the salty O’Brian world we love. You don’t want to miss it!”
— Dean King, national bestselling author of A Sea of Words, Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed, and Skeletons on the Zahara
“While researching for paintings I have probably read hundreds of ships' logbooks from the glory days of the Royal Navy, just as Patrick O'Brian did, so I know what things looked like from the quarterdeck (there are very, very few surviving accounts from the crews). But with this book Will Sofrin gives us a great insight into the intense working life of the lower deck, now just as it was then, constantly battling the elements, gear failure, and sometimes each other.”
— Geoff Hunt, marine artist and illustrator of the Patrick O'Brian book covers
“Will Sofrin’s thrilling account of the eventful, sometimes terrifying delivery of the tall ship that starred in Peter Weir’s adaptation of Patrick O’Brian’s The Far Side of the World is a must-read. Even if you haven’t seen the movie or read O’Brian’s novels, this is an adventure story of the highest order.”
— Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the National Book Award–winning In the Heart of the Sea and Travels with George
“All Hands on Deck is a fascinating read: a combination of a travelogue to distant lands, maritime history, and adventures and misadventures on the high seas. Through it all, author Will Sofrin is learning to live in tight and uncomfortable quarters on a tall ship alongside crewmembers of very divergent personalities. They ultimately form a team with the common goal of staying alive on an unforgiving and unpredictable ocean.”
— Michael Tougias, New York Times bestselling author of Extreme Survival and A Storm Too Soon
“In the canon of classic literature is a disproportionate volume of epic tales of the sea. Almost invariably these tales focus on a young, green hand signing aboard a ship, casting off, and heading out into the great salty unknown for the first time. In All Hands on Deck, by Will Sofrin, we have a latter-day tale of a seagoing apprenticeship under sail. Lucid, personal, funny, and instructive, it could be read next to Two Years Before the Mast with no apologies. Ships and times may have changed, but the sea and young souls drawn to the sea have changed but little. This story is a worthy tale of a young man and a ship and the sea. I enjoyed it immensely.”
— Captain Daniel Moreland
“People love tall ships, but the lives and culture of modern tall ship sailors are a mystery to most who attend sea festivals and the like. In All Hands on Deck, Will Sofrin accomplishes two things: He brings to light the real world of today’s traditional mariners while telling the thrilling tale of how he himself was plunged into that world. With accomplished and insightful storytelling, Sofrin recounts an extraordinary, often hair-raising voyage, and in doing so reveals to readers the lives of the modern-day sailors of the big rigs.”
— James L. Nelson, award-winning author of the Norsemen Saga and Benedict Arnold’s Navy
“In 2022, Will's twenty-year-old memories of 2002 with the Rose plunge up and down, from the present to historical descriptions of their passages and landfalls over the centuries, what life aboard these kinds of ships is now, and what it used to be like. With a cast of shipmates on the replica tall ship, from bowsprit to capstan, a door is opened for the reader between a developed modern world on a well-traveled ocean route and long-gone days when it was first being sailed, written, and talked about. A lively blend of new and old adventure stories, this book bromantically and informatively bridges time on the timeless seas.”
— Tania Aebi, bestselling author of Maiden Voyage and the first American woman and youngest person to sail around the world