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While we were away in Scotland my father had time to daydream. He had toyed with building a sailboat and sailing around the world for years: he even had a naval architect draw up a plan once, a few years earlier. Apparently, he decided we would be too cramped in that, so he started looking for existing vessels. He located one in Amsterdam… the Alja V, a 110-ft canal freighter. I went back to college, and he bought that freighter. It stayed in Amsterdam until my father arranged for it to be sailed across the Atlantic...
I dropped out of college at the end of the summer and walked away from that amazing scholarship. By the time I got to the ship, my parents and sister were already there, my dad having sold his practice and the house on the lake. I boarded the boat in November 1970 with all my meager belongings in tow and left the Motor City for parts unknown...
The ship was re-christened the Brigadoon, and we painted the hull bright red. The pilot house and the trim were painted black and white. I remember hanging over the side and scrubbing off rust with a very stiff metal brush.
The ship had a three-cycle Brons engine that would totally permeate a body with its slow, rhythmic “CHUG-chug-chug-CHUGchug- chug” day and night. The engine room door was accessed on the port side, aft of the pilot house door. It was very stereotypical, rounded edges and a very large handle square in the middle, maybe a foot long, that swung up a quarter turn to unlock the lever. When you swung open the door you could see that someone had painted a crying Donald Duck, hat in hand, on the inside of the door. My sister became the mechanic, scampering down the gangway ladder when required. I became the navigator, learning both Loran C and celestial navigation.
Summon the Tiger by Wendy Sura Thomson is a wonderful memoir and I thought Wendy came across as a calm, non-judgmental, strong, and sensible person with a good head on her shoulders. It is not easy growing up with a permanent disability and a neglectful or abusive family background, but Wendy appears to have risen above it. I also loved the fact that she is a great parent to her children and has a good relationship with them, which is admirable. The writing style of this autobiography is smooth and sequential. Wendy’s story itself is compelling and gives hope to other people who may be in similar situations. This is an engaging memoir that I would recommend. - Readers' Favorite, 5 stars
Born with congenital bone deformities that left her needing a prosthetic for one lag and a malformed riht arm, Wendy Thomson came into this world at a disadvantage. She was also born a girl in the early 1950's... yet another strike against her. However, despite everything the world threw at her, Thomson was able to have a remarkable life and an astounding career. Summon the Tiger tells her incomparable story... For a tale of courage and determination in the face of great odds, look no further than Thomson's memoir. San Francisco Book Review, 5 stars.
An intriguing... account of a remarkable woman triumphing over adversity. Kirkus Review