Those of you who frequent this website and who followed closely this summer’s Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (NAR) are probably very familiar with Ken Williams. Williams, along with wife Roberta, accompanied 17 other powerboats across the Atlantic on board their Nordhavn 62, Sans Souci . A frustrated writer and web techie, Williams drew an audience of thousands with his daily accounts of the events that took place on his boat during the Rally both at sea and while docked at the various ports. Surprised by the popularity of his blog, Williams decided it might be fun to try writing it as a book. The end result was Crossing an Ocean Under Power , a primer on what it is like to retire and see the world on a power boat with many references made to Williams’ experiences on the Rally.
The book is basically a glimpse into Williams’ own life. After retiring from the computer game industry, Ken and Roberta Williams purchased their Nordhavn 62 in 1998 and spent much of the time cruising in Europe. At the beginning of 2004, they shipped Sans Souci back to Florida to begin preparing her for the NAR. Many questioned Williams’ decision to spend 40 days at sea cruising to a location where his boat had just shipped from. But Williams thought the opportunity to cruise with other Nordhavn owners, as well as with experienced technical and medical personnel, would gain him the boating experience he badly needed. He agreed to provide Sans Souci as one of the Rally’s three escort boats, so in addition to his own crew were an EMT and engineer, which made for a full boat and some interesting interactions amongst the slew of different personalities.
The humorous and fascinating log entries provided the perfect backdrop for Crossing , a manual for the layman boater. “I’ve bought a lot of nautical books, but always had trouble buying books that felt relevant to me,” said Williams, a self-proclaimed boating novice. Most of the passage making books he found were written about sailboats and for people who were more technically adept. “My goal for the book was to explain things to others, who are not seasoned veterans, in the way that I wished I had been able to learn them.”
And hoping to avoid writing a book that was completely dry, Williams peppered the pages with tales from the Rally, which read as real-life lessons to the cruising applications he outlines in the book. In fact, he says he hopes readers will feel like they’ve “lived” the Rally along with him.
“[Roberta’s and my] whole outlook on boating was changed by the Rally, he said. “I have no doubt that we’ll cruise most of the world in our next boat, whereas prior to the Rally we never would have considered going even 50 miles away from shore. It’s tough for me to believe that anyone who reads this book won’t want to do it themselves.”
Ken Williams is currently in boating limbo while he waits for his new yacht, a Nordhavn 64, to be delivered some time in early 2006. To purchase his book, Crossing an Ocean Under Power, click here .