Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Excerpt Tour + #Giveaway: My Rite of Passage During the Summer of '76 by H. Downing Lane @hlane4200 @GoddessFish


My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ‘76

by H. Downing Lane

GENRE: Memoir


MY RITE OF PASSAGE DURING THE SUMMER OF ’76 is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about adventure on the high seas with philosophical musings that add a resonant layer of depth.

In this memoir, H. Downing Lane recalls the 25-day transatlantic sailing trip he took in 1976 as a young man, the details of the journey around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and other locales, and reflects on its significance as a coming-of-age learning experience.

H. Downing Lane was 26 years old in 1976 when he decided to sign up for a transatlantic sailing trip into the Arctic with an accomplished captain named E. Newbold Smith. In this vivid, often exhilarating memoir, Lane draws from journal entries written during his time at sea to share an account of the remarkable voyage.

The Atlantic crossing was a 25-day affair, from Chesapeake Bay, around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the coast of Norway. It was undertaken at a point in Lane’s life when he was feeling particularly vulnerable, as he was recovering from an accident in which he had lost an eye. He wished to “prove [his] mettle,” not to the other men aboard the boat, but to himself. As it turned out, Captain Smith was something of a kindred spirit, as he too had survived a devastating accident many years earlier. Lane provides the reader with a realistic vision of what life aboard a sailing vessel is like, from the often freezing temperatures above and below deck, to the many challenges presented by simple bodily necessities. He describes various technical aspects of working on the boat, but his language never devolves into jargon; his account is always perfectly clear and accessible.

Lane seasons the text with literary and philosophical quotes that frequently allow him to consider the greater meaning of his experience, and even of life itself. There are also numerous stunning photographs included of the boat and the various stops along the way.


During the 24-day, 3,000-mile sailing adventure, I shared nothing about my eye "accident" from 18 months earlier. None of the other seven crew members even knew anything about my eye. Not any one onboard knew about my limited vision. No one noticed. Or at least, never let on. None certainly inquired or mentioned anything. Maybe they knew somehow, but it didn’t matter to me at the time. I had something to prove and I was determined to make sure the world did not know about it. I wanted to show myself as if I hadn’t lost anything in losing my eye. Little did I know that I had gained more than I had lost.

When I initially wrote about crewing exploits aboard Reindeer in my blog in 2013, I didn’t mentioned anything about my eye injury in writing those thirty-thee blog posts about this voyage. My injury didn’t seem relevant even then until many years later, but it was the whole reason I wanted to go on this trip.

When I realized it was I was missing from the story, my injury seemed to be a factor - the only factor. Part of me just didn’t want it to be an issue at the time of our sail. I was embarrassed by it. It had affected me until it didn’t. When I started to think about other life issues, I was delighted to flush my system of the issue. I was still processing my accident, discovering my limits. I had to push myself forward. To prove I had not lost sight of the fact that I had lost sight. My entire motives were all about my personal healing. Somehow I knew that small insight made me stand out in sailing transatlantic; it was all part of my healing. Maybe I was one of the few who had survived an eye injury to cross the Atlantic.

Sailing and surviving through the storm challenges were all part of my healing. My keeping a diary, writing a journal, capturing moments with my camera, recording my memories and eventually sharing my blogs many years later were all very healing. Part of me knew that if it had been an issue back then, it might also have also been considered a concern.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

H. Downing Lane is a retired educator, tutoring business owner, English teacher, coach and administrator who sails in his spare time. Presently he is writing a series of books that chronicle his sailing adventures.

Born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, he has returned home after 40 years to write. Henry taught sailing for eight years on Long Island Sound and sailed competitively on the Chesapeake Bay, crewed transatlantic to Iceland and Norway, been a crew member of a number of Annapolis – Newport and Newport – Bermuda races and sailed much of the Caribbean and Bahamas.

In 1978, he sailed the SORC around Florida. In 2008, he purchased Mystique, a 40′ leopard catamaran, and in 2013, he sailed it to Santo Domingo, the Turks and Cacaos and eventually to Florida.

In 2016, he sailed solo for 51 days through the Exumas. On another adventure he and Lainie Wrightson had a calamitous time together – losing both rudders – the basis of his second book, Bluewater Mystique.

He has chartered boats to sail the Dalmatian Coast, Belize, Abacos, Eleuthera and the Maine coast. While maintaining his blog www.bluewatermystique.com, he has written numerous blogs about life and sailing.

He is a dedicated learner and loves sharing his experiences and stories.

Social Links

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Buy Links

Amazon ~ Indigo ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords


$20 Amazon/BN GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you for sharing.

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing the great post!

Sherry said...

I look forward to reading more of this book.

Danielle merkle said...

Sounds like a great read

Post a Comment