My middle school aged boys loved this book.
Fourteen-year-old David Alspeth has lost his favorite uncle to cancer. The uncle that taught him to sail and who had left him the Frog, his 22 foot sailboat. His last request is that David take his ashes to sea and dump them out of sight of land. In his grief David fails to plan ahead and carelessly sets sail at night without proper preparation. When David encounters a Pacific storm he realizes that he's not properly prepared to meet what the Pacific (or life) is throwing at him.
I thoroughly enjoyed this but then I'm always a sucker for sea stories. Given the themes, it's not surprising that some critics say that this is just a retelling of the Hatchet tale, and there are many, many similarities but I felt that this was overall, a better Bildungsroman than Hatchet was. Perhaps its just that I have more in common with a sailor than an air crash survivor, but I felt that threats were present without the time consuming scrambling for survival, giving the protagonist more time for reflection. In the end it's a kinder gentler coming-of-age story than Hatchet and I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more of a following as it has more that most young readers could identify with.
If you read Hatchet and enjoyed it, by all means check this out. And if you're a young sailor you definitely should read this.