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Escape From Hermit Island By Joy Smith, in collaboration with Leslie Brow It’s the title that throws you off. It sounds like a teen mystery novel about Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. It is about an escape—but not how we normally think of an escape. It’s about how they did it and where that makes this a page-turner. A friend left this book at my house a few years ago, and I was told what it was about, but I never picked it up till recently. Then I read the first few pages and found it difficult to put it down. It’s far from a Nancy Drew story. This is a story about two very experienced sailors—two American women—whose 34-foot sailboat sunk while visiting a small island in Papua, New Guinea. It was a pure accident; something that could happen to any of us—and if you’ve never come close to wrecking your boat, then you haven’t been boating much. How many people would have walked away from a boat that had sunk like this and gone home? Almost everyone, I bet. But not these women. They were determined to bring their boat back to life —and they persevered in conditions that would have humbled—and probably defeated—most people. Not only did they have to deal with a physical environment that was demanding, remote, and lacking in the serv-


April 2012


Review by Steve Morrell

ices and supplies we all take for granted, but they were also strangers in a strange land. Dealing with raising a boat out of the water in a remote spot was enough of a challenge, but perhaps not as much as dealing with the local people, some of whom were downright hostile. Some of the locals were friendly and fought to protect these two women from the hostile ones. I was held bound in suspense, even though I knew from the beginning that they survived. After all, they wrote the book, didn’t they? This book is also a lesson about a segment of society in Papua, New Guinea. In some ways, it’s heartening, and in other ways, it’s frightening. If you were an anthropologist studying Papua, New Guinea, or if you just wanted to read about other peoples of the world, I would recommend this book. If you want to learn a little about what can happen in remote parts of the world, you’ll learn something here. But you’ll wonder if you have the strength, determination and perseverance that these two women had. They came to our booth at the St. Pete boat show several years ago and talked to others at the booth, but I was out roaming the show and missed them. If they come back, I will not miss another opportunity to meet these two remarkable women. Learn more about their story at Available at various outlets.,