A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea

David Vann

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1560257105

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


If you've ever owned a sailboat or had a friend who did, you know how it begins: with a dream. You dream about the ship, and gradually the dream consumes you. Practical considerations lose all meaning ... until, inevitably, the dream morphs into a nightmare. David Vann is familiar with that nightmare. His begins in Turkey: a thirty-year-old tourist, he stumbles across the steel frame of a ninety-foot sailboat that cries out to be built. From friends, family, and credit cards, he borrows the $150,000 to construct the ship. The Turkish builders take shameless advantage of him, eventually charging him over $500,000. On the edge of financial ruin, Vann starts a chartering business. But, when some new part of the ship isn't falling apart, he encounters freak storms. As his debts escalate, Vann begins to wonder if he is merely repeating his father's dreams and failures at sea—which ended with his father's suicide. At once a page-turning true story of adventure on the open ocean and an archetypal tale of one man's attempt to overcome fate and realize his dream, A Mile Down is an unforgettable story of struggle and redemption by a writer at the top of his form.

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from the boat owners. So in the end we had almost thirty lines holding us to the dock, including two of the thickest that could be purchased in Gibraltar, and though we were heeled over in the wind and bouncing in the waves, we held. When the winds finally died down, we had been delayed a full week, and another storm was supposed to come soon. A weather window of three or four days, long enough for us to get clear of the area, was predicted, so I decided to make a dash for it. WE WATCHED THE

This was her dream now, too, and she was putting everything on the line for it. Once Grendel sold, I had the money to buy her a ring and invited her for an evening cruise on a small powerboat along the San Francisco waterfront. It was fairly warm for mid-March, and very clear and calm. I pulled up beside a small fisherman’s chapel at Fisherman’s Wharf and asked her to marry me. She said yes, and we celebrated with dinner on the wharf. We decided to have the wedding soon, on July 21, because

the water on a Friday afternoon so we could spend the weekend in the “well,” as they call the water underneath the travelift. We were still bolting the rails, stanchions, and other fittings, and we still had a lot of work to do on the varnish. The teak rails were actually iroko, similar to teak, and it turns out I’m extremely allergic to iroko dust. My eyes and lips puffed up from the sanding and I had red rashes all over my chest and neck, which was a nice addition to how I felt about

pilothouse at highway speed, thousands of gallons of water turned into smoke. We hung and the boat fell to the side, everything crashing. I could hear our wedding gifts, which had been stored in cupboards in the galley, hitting the cabinet doors so hard they broke open and everything fell twenty feet across the main salon to the port side. Other heavy thuds and bangs throughout the boat, things breaking. And then our bow plowed into the next wave with such force that our teak platform on the

pilothouse at highway speed, thousands of gallons of water turned into smoke. We hung and the boat fell to the side, everything crashing. I could hear our wedding gifts, which had been stored in cupboards in the galley, hitting the cabinet doors so hard they broke open and everything fell twenty feet across the main salon to the port side. Other heavy thuds and bangs throughout the boat, things breaking. And then our bow plowed into the next wave with such force that our teak platform on the

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