I just finished reading Bull Canyon by Lin Pardey and just have to recommend it. No, it’s not a galley book and hence a little off-topic for The Boat Galley. And I don’t normally do book reviews except for cookbooks and galley reference books.
And Bull Canyon is not even a book about the Pardeys’ cruising adventures. So why am I writing about it here?
Well, the simple answer is that Bull Canyon is a wonderful read. It’s ostensibly about building the Pardeys’ second boat, Taleisin, but really about major changes in one’s life. And that’s the more complex answer: those twists and turns of life and the decisions that accompany them occur in everyone’s life. I know that many of TBG’s readers are thinking about or are in the process of making the transition from land living to full- or part-time cruising.
Beneath the surface of Bull Canyon is the story of how one couple navigated numerous changes in their lives — moving ashore, selling their “old” boat, Lin embarking on a much more serious writing career and becoming the family’s breadwinner, dealing with family reactions to their voyaging, making hard decisions to enable them to reach their goals, and both making and losing friends.
Most of us don’t live the adventurous lives that Lin and Larry Pardey have — very few people have cruised as many miles as they have, much less without an engine and in boats they built themselves. And even when living ashore, the Pardeys don’t quite do things the way “normal” people would.
Bull Canyon is the story of Lin and Larry Pardey’s time living ashore while they built their second boat. After 11 years afloat, they choose a stone cabin in a very remote canyon over 60 miles from the sea with no electricity and no phone. To say the location was challenging is an understatement — but the bigger challenges came in the decisions they had to make about the path their lives would take . . . and what they had to do to get there.
I found that while the specifics of their situation were unique (and that’s what made the book so fun to read), the transitions that Lin talks about in the book are universal. We all feel the change when we go from shore living to boat living or vice versa, even if we’re just on the boat for a weekend. And we all know the challenges of moving to a new place, starting a new career and deciding what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
Rarely do we get to glimpse how others deal with these changes and stresses. I was, frankly, amazed at how open Lin is in discussing their decisions, frustrations, triumphs and relationship. But that openness is what makes the book.
In reading Bull Canyon, I found myself often smiling and nodding as various incidents reminded me of challenges that Dave and I have faced — basically, two strong-willed people forging a life together that isn’t exactly traditional. Surely, traditional would be easier, but would it be as interesting?
If you want a glimpse into how Lin and Larry have made it work, as well as just a heck of a good story, grab a copy of Bull Canyon. And if you’ve already read it, leave a comment with your thoughts on it.
Read more about Bull Canyon:
Lin’s web page and discussion on writing the book as well as a few reviews