The British author was the first woman to sail alone around the world via Cape Horn, and she holds the female record for the 1980 Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race. Here she recounts notable adventures by current and historic seafarers: Magellen, Bligh, Shackleton and Tom McClean, who rowed single-handedly across the Atlanticas as well as two instances of survival on life rafts (117 days, 38 days) in the Pacific and the disastrous Fastnet Race of 1979. One story, of Frank and Ann Davison, is a tale of bad luck raised to the nthstet power, while the misadventures of John Caldwell on a transpacific voyage are an example of sublime foolhardiness. David Lewis attempts a lone circumnavigation of Antarctica; Robin Knox-Johnston and Donald Crowhurst provide triumph and tragedy in the first around-the-world single-handed race, while Bernard Moitessier simply dropped out. Two capsizes in stormy Cape Horn waters convinced the Smeeton family they had stretched their luck far enough. At the end, the author describes her first experience in a trimaran, competing in a round-Britain race. These tales will appeal to sailor and landlubber alike; they are best read on dry land. Photos.