The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow:
A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea

A.J. "Sandy" Mackinnon

The moment I saw the picture on the cover of this book I knew that a Mirror Dinghy was the boat I had always wanted. And having realized this, how could I resist the book.

Sandy Mackinnon is an Australian who had been teaching English and drama at a public school in North Wales for six years. When he decided to quit his job, rather than just leave, he thought it would be more dramatic to sail away. He borrowed a dinghy from the school (Jack de Crow – named after his pet jackdaw) and planned to spend a couple of weeks sailing down the Severn River, enjoying the scenery and stopping at riverside pubs. Nine months and three thousand miles later he sailed into the Black Sea. He was shipwrecked, almost drowned, attacked by a bull, captured by pirates, and almost run-down by a tanker. And those were only a few of his adventures. Luckily for him he knew his Arthur Ransome well and was saved more than once by thinking about what the Swallows and Amazons would have done.

This is a trip that is delightful to read about, but that you wouldn't actually have wanted to be on. More often than not he was cold, wet, exhausted, and hungry. He must be a charming fellow, though, as it is amazing how often complete strangers offered him food, hot showers, and a bed for the night, to say nothing of repairs for his boat, which it usually needed.

To add to the delight of the book, he has illustrated it himself with charming drawings and maps. I believe Mr. Mackinnon is now back in Australia teaching, but I look forward to his next adventure.

Reviewed by Pam Marshall, May, 2003

This article is ©2003 by Pam Marshall, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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