Kathleen Saville has enjoyed – and endured – a life of adventure, including two Guinness World Records, as the first woman to row across the North Atlantic and across two oceans.
Her book Rowing For My Life: Two Oceans, Two Lives, One Journey combines hair-raising travel adventure and wilderness survival with self-discovery and insights about life and relationships from a woman’s point of view.
This is the story of an unravelling marriage and the finding of an authentic self amid the challenges of the open sea.
Just out of college, newly wed and set up with her husband Curt in a small town in New York, Kathleen quickly realised that a life working for a better used car and a home with a mortgage would never satisfy her thirst for freedom and adventure.
The year before, she and Curt had retraced Henry David Thoreau’s canoe journey through the Maine Woods, and both were veteran rowers.
Inspired, she suggested that they row across the Atlantic Ocean. Returning to her hometown, living on a shoestring, they built their 25ft ocean rowboat. They set out from Morocco and, tested by adverse currents, gales and their own inexperience, accomplished the near impossible.
Three years later, while they attempted to row across the Pacific, Curt was washed overboard and lost their sextant, which was their only means of navigation. Now, besides confronting fatigue, storms, sharks and deadly reefs, they had to find a way to avoid becoming lost at sea and succumbing to starvation.
Their ordeal in completing their crossing exposed the fissures in their marriage and in this and subsequent adventures, Kathleen was forced to confront the difference between courage and foolhardiness.
Cinematic, suspenseful, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant, her story of an unravelling marriage is also the account of finding her true self amid the life-and-death challenges at sea.
Praise for Rowing for My Life
“A powerful, captivating account of a husband and wife who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans together in a rowboat they built themselves. The writing is beautiful and Kathleen Saville’s perspective is clear-eyed, honest,and poignant. This is a wonderful book.” – Reeve Lindbergh, bestselling author of Under a Wing and No More Words
“This is a tale of adventure in its purest form – audacious expeditions by rowboat across vast, unforgiving oceans. It is also an unflinchingly honest account of personal sacrifices made for the sake of exploration. Kathleen Saville describes how her extreme experiences defined her life and brought her spiritual peace but also threatened her marriage and eventually led to the ultimate cost, the loss of a partner driven by the need for heroic journeys.” – Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow and Explorers of the Infinite
Rowing for My Life by Kathleen Saville is published on February 7 by Arcade priced $24.99.
About the Author
After receiving a teaching degree, Kathleen moved with Curt and son Christopher to Pakistan, Kuwait and Egypt. After Curt’s death in a trekking mishap in the Egyptian desert, she earned a degree in creative writing.
She teaches at the American University in Cairo, travels widely, publishes articles and blogs about her adventures. She is an active speaker and blogger about adventure travel. She lives in Cairo, Egypt, and Derby Line, Vermont.