cover image Without a Paddle: Racing Twelve Hundred Miles Around Florida by Sea Kayak

Without a Paddle: Racing Twelve Hundred Miles Around Florida by Sea Kayak

Warren Richey, St. Martin's, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-63076-8

At its core, the idea of traveling 1,200 miles around the coast of Florida in a kayak sounds grueling—the organizers of the Ultimate Florida Challenge warn wouldbe entrants that "even if you are a wellprepared expert, you may die." But Richey, who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, shows in this fast-paced memoir that a persevering spirit can overcome all physical and mental exhaustion. Still feeling the effects of a divorce that threw his world into upheaval, Richey finds solace in his sea kayak and enters the competition, despite the objections of family and friends. Nearly every day and night, he encounters all possible obstacles: physical ailments (blisters, sore muscles, sleep deprivation), the threat of predators like alligators and pythons, and solitude while paddling through the night. On a diet consisting largely of bagels and Snickers bars, Richey travels on, battling himself and the biggest enemy of all: the clock, as the rules mandate the race be completed within 30 days. Much of the tale centers on his nautical journey, but Richey seamlessly weaves that with his heartbreak from divorce, the bond of a father and son, and moving on with a newfound love. By the end of this wonderfully uplifting book, Richey's trip has taken him well beyond the perimeter of the Sunshine State. (July)