• NZ Booklovers

Wild Seas to Greenland by Rebecca Hayter


Rebecca Hayter is the former award-winning editor of Boating New Zealand magazine. She’s also won awards for her column High Heels and Gumboots which tells the story of life on her Golden Bay farm. In short, she can weave a good yarn. And the latest yarn, about her return to the high seas with fellow Kiwi Ross Field is another goodie, which had me totally absorbed from start to finish - two days later.

Ross Field is well-known in New Zealand yachting circles, but a few words about a stellar career which saw him rubbing shoulders with household names, makes him a legend in anyone’s lunchtime. For every Sir Peter Blake, Peter Burling and Dean Barker are tens of dozens of other sailors flying under the radar. They’re the backbone of the nation’s yachting fraternity and it’s largely due to these unsung heroes who escape widespread national attention that we are considered among the best sailors in the world.


Ross was watch captain in 1989-90 when Sir Peter Blake helmed Steinlager 2 to Whitbread victory. In 1994 he was the skipper of Yamaha which won the race. Three years later Ross won the Round Europe Race and took line honours in the Fastnet race. He did it again two years later and the record he set during that race stood for eight years. With a record like his, it’s a wonder that we’re not all quoting Ross Field daily and following him on Instagram.


Little wonder, then, that Rebecca Hayter eventually agreed to join him on his journey to the top of the world. And I say eventually, because despite Field’s impeccable record, as a yachting journalist Hayter knew a thing or two about what could go wrong on a passage such as he was proposing. Additionally, Hayter’s own father, Adrian Hayter, was an ocean sailor whose own book Sheila in the Wind remains a classic for aspirant sailors worldwide.


I found the quotes from Adrian’s book at the beginning of each chapter an absolutely charming addition to this story. I loved the Kiwi can-do attitude with which the book is laced; and the sprinkling of stories from Field’s many ocean voyages. He’s (almost) circumnavigated the globe five times, so the reader knows he has the skills to complete this journey. And of course we know that the author lived to tell the tale.

But as a former yachtie, and as one who previously lived with a small handful of round-the-world sailors, I know what a cruel mistress the sea can be. As I read, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the unexpected to happen, as it so frequently does at sea. So this is a rollicking good tale for those who love the sea – and for those who don’t.


That you’ll get to travel to Greenland without any hardship is an absolute bonus.


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Oceanspirit Publishing. RRP $39.95