‘It would be hard to imagine a more thoughtful, intelligent and companionable person to go to sea with than Paul Heiney.’ Bill Bryson’High comedy on the high seas. Informative and warm and freezing. It’s quite a combination.’ Griff Rhys JonesThe writer and broadcaster Paul Heiney set sail from the east coast of England bound for Iceland, propelled by a desire to breathe the cool, clear air of the high latitudes, and to follow in the wake of generations of sailors who have made this often treacherous journey since the 13th century. In almost every harbour he tripped over maritime history and anecdote, and came face to face with his own past as he sailed north along his childhood coastline of east Yorkshire towards the Arctic Circle.
But there was one major thing missing from this voyage – the sight of puffins. They are remarkable birds, uplifting as a ray of sunshine after a storm. To see them and share their waters was also part of Heiney’s ambition. Imagine then his disappointment when, first, no puffins appeared off the Farne Islands, then none to be seen on puffin hotspots like Orkney. When he failed to see puffins on Iceland, Heiney still held out the hope that he would see the ‘joker of the seas’.
With inspiring travel writing, social and maritime history, and good-humoured reflections on his sailing journey, Heiney brings us this delightful book – a love letter to the puffin, to Iceland and the north, and to the pure pleasure of being at sea.