Friday, October 09, 2015

The Vega Adventures: A Reading That Will Raise Your Spirits

Vega is a large, weighty sailing vessel with an undersized motor. It’s 125 years old, specially built by Norwegian craftsmen to haul bulky loads like cement across the North Sea. But in 2004 Shane and Meggi Granger took her on a different kind of mission that has become what Shane calls in his amazing new novel, The Vega Adventures.

The story briefly takes you through Vega’s amazing history – why she was built and by whom, how she evolved, and how she lived out her latter work years eventually dragging for glacial stones off the North Sea floor before being bought and then abandoned by a forlorn seafarer.

Then the Grangers restored Vega and took her on their own amazing sea adventure across the Indian Ocean, which begins the book with a life-and-death struggle in a horrific hurricane. They lose the rudder and all control, only just managing to survive as they finally make safe harbor in the Seychelles, where they make repairs and then set off again, destination Malaysia.

Finally basking in warm sunny Malaysia, the Grangers are enjoying some time on land and figuring out how to refit Vega's interior accommodations, when the infamous tsunami of December 26, 2004, hits, generated by a 9.3 earthquake off the shores of Sumatra. The first hints come as swirling currents, but then the waves arrive lifting boats and docks out to sea and sending everyone into a panic. But what they and their boating neighbors go through is nothing compared to what others in more remote places have suffered, the death toll reaching into the hundreds of thousands. That story leads to the Grangers’ real adventure.

Their sailing vessel perfect for hauling large volumes, the Grangers agree to take 22 tons of badly needed food and medical supplies to the victims of the tsunami. When they see the horrific damage and helpless victims among the island nations where they deliver supplies, it creates a new vision for their lives. The Grangers refit Vega not just for leisure sailing of the high seas, but they begin using it to bring the basic necessities of life to the most remote villages in the Indian Ocean, people shut off from the world who have no access to doctors or medicine, schools or school supplies, even farm implements or seeds. Their mission in life will be to use Vega to bring life to the islands.

The Vega Adventures is the true life story of a couple and their small crew facing the dangers of life on the sea making year-long voyages to raise medical supplies, midwife kits, education packages, soccer (football) balls, backpacks full of school supplies, sewing kits, farm implements, vegetable seeds, and more, and then deliver them to tiny isolated villages on remote islands. Interspersed in the lively narrative are interesting side tales about sailing and sailing experiences, individuals on the islands and their experiences, and the sights, sounds, smells, and feels the Grangers experienced during their voyages.

Shane Granger is the author and his easy-going, humorous narrative style brings the story to life. I’ll warn you that the publisher did no proofreading, so occasional errors may jump out at you, but I promise you that the story is worth the read. And Shane tells me he is looking at another publishing run with corrections.

I’m used to reading the age-of-sail Napoleon-era war-at-sea novels like the Thomas Kydd series by Julian Stockwin, and Shane Granger gives every bit of accurate detail in this story that Stockwin provides in his novels. What’s different here is that the war is between humans and nature, and there’s more about peace and the beneficence of the human spirit than of war itself. The reading will raise your spirits.

The other thing I love about Granger’s The Vega Adventures is the short chapters, which breaks the story into nice little sets. That makes it a breezy read, helped along by Granger's friendly, jaunty tone. And it also makes it easier to keep your place in the book! Enjoy.

Correction: Shane Granger tells me, "I should mention we work in Indonesia with the small islands there and not the Indian Ocean. Small detail."

(The Vega Adventures also available at Barnes and Noble,, and Powell's Books. )

(c) 2015. Alan Eggleston. All Rights Reserved.

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