When self-confessed “uncoordinated and impractical” boating novice Anna Kirtlan decided to sail around the South Pacific, it was bound to result in an incredible adventure. Not only was she new to sailing, but she also had mental health challenges.
Kirtlan details in this well written, humorous book her experience of sailing with her partner Paddy around the South Pacific in his boat Wildflower. The book tells of Anna and Paddy’s adventures on board their boat, the amazing places they visit and wonderful people they meet.
Mental health challenges
Kirtlan learns how to sail from scratch and has to overcome anxiety attacks, something she has experienced since she was a teenager. She writes openly and honestly about when she was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety as a youngster.
“In the early ‘90s there were no brave celebrities and sportspeople putting a face to mental illness, there were no campaigns letting people know that one in five people were going through the same thing you were. I was 15 years old and utterly convinced that if I let too many people know I would find myself in a nice comfy padded room.”
I really admire Kirtlan for her bravery in taking on such an epic challenge as sailing around the South Pacific and being so open about her personal challenges.
“Things can be hard for us in ways most people don’t understand, but if I can sail around the South Pacific, then you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Interesting facts and tidbits
While detailing her high sea adventures on a personal level, Kirtlan also inserts a lot of interesting facts about sailing, the countries she visits, cultural observations, language and other random things.
The book is broken down into three parts. The first part is called The Dream, the second Living the Dream and the third Back to Reality. Within each there are several chapters.
Kirtlan’s background in journalism and writing made this book easy to read and engaging. She is a great storyteller and knows how to write. Her sense of humour really shines through.
I enjoyed Which Way is Starboard Again? Her physical, mental and emotional journey was compelling and uplifting.
Reviewed by Maggie McNaughton, writer at Healthy Communications