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Casting Off: How a City Girl Found Happiness on the High Seas

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As a journalist for the Independent, Emma Bamford is swept along with the London rat race, lost amongst the egos of Fleet Street. Surrounded by budget cuts and bullies, the thrill of a breaking news story is no longer enough. And at 31, still struggling to get to a fourth date and surrounded by friends settling down to married life and babies, Emma decides to grasp her lif As a journalist for the Independent, Emma Bamford is swept along with the London rat race, lost amongst the egos of Fleet Street. Surrounded by budget cuts and bullies, the thrill of a breaking news story is no longer enough. And at 31, still struggling to get to a fourth date and surrounded by friends settling down to married life and babies, Emma decides to grasp her life by the roots and reclaim her freedom...by running away to sea and joining a complete stranger (and his cat) on a yacht in Borneo. Reflective yet humorous and self-deprecating, we share Emma's excitement and fear at leaving a good job for an unknown adventure, and join her as she travels to some of the most exotic places in the world and starts to realise what really matters in life. She discovers the supreme awkwardness of sharing a tiny space with total strangers, the unimaginable beauty of paradise islands and secret jungle rivers, glimpses lost tribes, works all hours for demanding superyacht owners, and has a terrifyingly near miss with pirates. Fending off romantic propositions from a Moldovan pig farmer and a Sri Lanken village chief amongst others, Emma finds adventure and happiness in the most unlikely places. From planning each day meticulously to learning to let go and leave things to chance, Emma's story shows that it is possible to break free and find happiness - and love - on your own terms.


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As a journalist for the Independent, Emma Bamford is swept along with the London rat race, lost amongst the egos of Fleet Street. Surrounded by budget cuts and bullies, the thrill of a breaking news story is no longer enough. And at 31, still struggling to get to a fourth date and surrounded by friends settling down to married life and babies, Emma decides to grasp her lif As a journalist for the Independent, Emma Bamford is swept along with the London rat race, lost amongst the egos of Fleet Street. Surrounded by budget cuts and bullies, the thrill of a breaking news story is no longer enough. And at 31, still struggling to get to a fourth date and surrounded by friends settling down to married life and babies, Emma decides to grasp her life by the roots and reclaim her freedom...by running away to sea and joining a complete stranger (and his cat) on a yacht in Borneo. Reflective yet humorous and self-deprecating, we share Emma's excitement and fear at leaving a good job for an unknown adventure, and join her as she travels to some of the most exotic places in the world and starts to realise what really matters in life. She discovers the supreme awkwardness of sharing a tiny space with total strangers, the unimaginable beauty of paradise islands and secret jungle rivers, glimpses lost tribes, works all hours for demanding superyacht owners, and has a terrifyingly near miss with pirates. Fending off romantic propositions from a Moldovan pig farmer and a Sri Lanken village chief amongst others, Emma finds adventure and happiness in the most unlikely places. From planning each day meticulously to learning to let go and leave things to chance, Emma's story shows that it is possible to break free and find happiness - and love - on your own terms.

52 review for Casting Off: How a City Girl Found Happiness on the High Seas

  1. 5 out of 5

    N

    In some ways, Casting Off was exactly what I wanted it to be: a pleasant, escapist fantasy, provided by a yearlong memoir of a thirtysomething professional woman who ditched London for life sailing the tropics. I always enjoyed picking it up after a long, hard day, so despite my criticisms (and I do have some), I can't help but recommend it. (It's cheap as an ebook and makes for a good 'beach read', whether or not you're on a beach. Thumbs up.) Now here are those criticisms I mentioned... Emma Bam In some ways, Casting Off was exactly what I wanted it to be: a pleasant, escapist fantasy, provided by a yearlong memoir of a thirtysomething professional woman who ditched London for life sailing the tropics. I always enjoyed picking it up after a long, hard day, so despite my criticisms (and I do have some), I can't help but recommend it. (It's cheap as an ebook and makes for a good 'beach read', whether or not you're on a beach. Thumbs up.) Now here are those criticisms I mentioned... Emma Bamford is just not a very good writer. And I don't mean that in a technical sense. In a technical sense, she's fine (she used to work for the Independent, after all). But the characters -- including Emma herself -- simply don't leap off the page. Most of the people Bamford meets on her voyages are rendered as cardboard cutouts and, even after 200 pages in her company, I couldn't tell you much about who Emma is. Her personality, her passion, is curiously absent here. Why? I can only hazard a few guesses: Memoir-writing is no easy accomplishment and Bamford struggles to wring emotion or action out of her adventures. The book is entertaining enough, but it's never gripping, and Bamford has little skill for creating dramatic tension. (Too often, I'd find myself sailing past a crucial plot point and reaching the end of an anecdote only to think, "wait, that was it? that was the extent of that whole section?") As a book, it's also... not inspired. Bamford mentions early in the book that she wrote it to help fund her trip and... it shows. It reads like work, not like a story the narrator was bursting to tell. Don't let my gripes put you off. It's a fun 3-star read. It's just a shame, because it had the makings of a solid 4-star read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Couldn't get very far with this one at all. The author was really getting on my nerves. Couldn't get very far with this one at all. The author was really getting on my nerves.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angie Barrile

    For anyone who enjoys sailing and wonders what it would be like to just take off and live on a boat, this is a great book. Emma goes beyond the sailing experience though and also writes of her relationships, good and bad, with those she sailed with. She writes of the magical experiences one can only have on the water, like the star filled night skies and the sound of the sailing vessel cutting through the waves. She also writes of the not so magical times that would keep me from ever doing this. For anyone who enjoys sailing and wonders what it would be like to just take off and live on a boat, this is a great book. Emma goes beyond the sailing experience though and also writes of her relationships, good and bad, with those she sailed with. She writes of the magical experiences one can only have on the water, like the star filled night skies and the sound of the sailing vessel cutting through the waves. She also writes of the not so magical times that would keep me from ever doing this..like taking a crew position on a sailboat that was occupied by lots of cockroaches..ugh!!! Also going for days without showering and conserving water. Only 2 areas I wasn't totally thrilled with..much of her experience is in Asia, some areas sounded beautiful but others not so much. Later on her travels lead her to Italy as crew on a yacht and she complains about Italian food??!! I was a bit offended lol. Great book though, and I will most likely read her 2nd one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I love holidays abroad, but I'm not an adventurous traveller, in fact I don't really like travelling at all, and often wish I could just go to sleep and wake up at my destination, without all the hassle of the journey. Emma Bamford does like travelling, she loves sailing, the open sea, the adventure and meeting new people and it was that love that persuaded her to leave the rat-race of London and agree to sail a yacht, with a stranger, on the other side of the world. Casting Off is her story, and I love holidays abroad, but I'm not an adventurous traveller, in fact I don't really like travelling at all, and often wish I could just go to sleep and wake up at my destination, without all the hassle of the journey. Emma Bamford does like travelling, she loves sailing, the open sea, the adventure and meeting new people and it was that love that persuaded her to leave the rat-race of London and agree to sail a yacht, with a stranger, on the other side of the world. Casting Off is her story, and it is so incredibly well written, that even a land-lubber like myself would be (almost) tempted to run off to sea too! As long as I didn't meet a guy like Emma's first captain that is. I have no idea how Emma kept her cheerful and upbeat tone whilst writing about the rat who was the skipper on her first part of this journey. Fending off his unwanted attention whilst trying not to be rude was one of her greatest achievements, and thank goodness she managed to find much better sailing mates once she'd escaped from his clutches! Sailing on different types of boats, with a whole host of people of differing nationalities, some of whom couldn't speak her language and some of whom were not the nicest of shipmates can't have been easy. However, the great people that she met and the wonderfully exotic places that she visited more than made up for it, despite the threat of pirates, the hard work and some particularly difficult holiday makers. The author's background in journalism shines through in Casting Off. She certainly writes a fascinating and often funny account of her time at sea. Her vulnerabilities do come through at times, but on the whole, her optimistic nature and her spirit of adventure shine through in her writing. I've read on Emma Bamford's website that she's now writing the sequel to Casting Off and I'm delighted to hear that. I really want to know what happens next; did she make it to the Caribbean, and what became of her and Guy? A fascinating, extremely well written tale of how one woman really did change her life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah westcott

    This is highly readable, pacy and fun - and at times inspiring. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an upbeat, adventurous book, perfect to take on holiday. I was left dangling at the end - and would love to read more. I enjoyed the mixture of personal and universal and think the book would work adapted into a film. It makes a good narrative. IMHO I'd have liked a map of the author's travels, as I got slightly confused at times as to where she actually was in the world. Also a pair of (corpora This is highly readable, pacy and fun - and at times inspiring. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an upbeat, adventurous book, perfect to take on holiday. I was left dangling at the end - and would love to read more. I enjoyed the mixture of personal and universal and think the book would work adapted into a film. It makes a good narrative. IMHO I'd have liked a map of the author's travels, as I got slightly confused at times as to where she actually was in the world. Also a pair of (corporate) high heels on the cover (instead of flip flops) would have even more impact in terms of the life change that is at the heart of the book. But overall, a fun, rollicking read and an insight into a life being lived with honesty and candour, and wry humour, at times.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Harper

    This is and excellent book...very funny, open, full of interesting facts, and a real sense of Adefioye involvement...I really want the heroine to find herself and find a happy path. The descriptions were dal...I know most of the places she talked about and I could feel myself being there from her description...and the sense of danger during certain parts of the book were tangible. I cannot recommend this enough...a great read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Really enjoyed the authors account of her becoming an independent free spirit of the world and the little lessons learned along the way! Quite interested in reading her next novel about her time spent with Guy on Incognito!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cherryls Books

    This one was a bit paper thin - not particularly enticing or gripping. Apparently a true tale of a woman who responds to an online advertisement to join a man on his boat sailing around the world. Hmmmm. Yes there are few interesting descriptions of her travel destinations but overall, this isn't one I'd recommend - unless you have a very keen interest in sailing. This one was a bit paper thin - not particularly enticing or gripping. Apparently a true tale of a woman who responds to an online advertisement to join a man on his boat sailing around the world. Hmmmm. Yes there are few interesting descriptions of her travel destinations but overall, this isn't one I'd recommend - unless you have a very keen interest in sailing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kaye

    After reading this book I quit my job and now sail the world as a yachtie.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patriciagoodwin

    Autobiography. Extremely well written, about to read follow up

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Whittaker

    A great account of the sailing world! Encourages you to focus on your dreams and let go of the worries you are used to. Recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Remember that time Lucy Irvine answered an ad to marry someone so that she could live out a dream of being a castaway on a desert island? Well, Bamford did something similar (minus the marriage): answered an ad to join a guy on a small yacht. She had the boating know-how but not the boat; the boat's owner was looking for crew member (and also a girlfriend). Much like Irvine, Bamford was in it for the experience, not for the relationship, which seems to have been at best a nuisance (a relationship Remember that time Lucy Irvine answered an ad to marry someone so that she could live out a dream of being a castaway on a desert island? Well, Bamford did something similar (minus the marriage): answered an ad to join a guy on a small yacht. She had the boating know-how but not the boat; the boat's owner was looking for crew member (and also a girlfriend). Much like Irvine, Bamford was in it for the experience, not for the relationship, which seems to have been at best a nuisance (a relationship was not part of the deal, but it's clear from the beginning what the owner wants). Unlike Irvin, Bamford had an exit route: Irvine couldn't realistically find another island, but Bamford could find another boat. It seems like such a strange world, this yachting thing: the world wide open, but also narrowed down to this tiny space bobbing on the ocean. Self-sufficient, except only for as long as supplies last. What followed for Bamford was something of a piecemeal adventure—figuring out how to stay on the water in a way that was sustainable for her. Not the sort of adventure for me. She had the book in mind when she started out, and in some ways it shows; I'd be curious to know how she might have written it if she'd done so later, with more perspective and perhaps context.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I didn't really enjoy the book, but afterwards had the opportunity to meet the author and appreciate it much more in retrospect (but it feels as though it would be cheating to give it more stars as a result). Part of the problem is that I have a limited tolerance for this genre and had probably more than filled my quota for the year reading Eat, Pray, Love a few months earlier. I might otherwise have enjoyed it more at the time and it is the better book. I am also now left wondering how much of I didn't really enjoy the book, but afterwards had the opportunity to meet the author and appreciate it much more in retrospect (but it feels as though it would be cheating to give it more stars as a result). Part of the problem is that I have a limited tolerance for this genre and had probably more than filled my quota for the year reading Eat, Pray, Love a few months earlier. I might otherwise have enjoyed it more at the time and it is the better book. I am also now left wondering how much of what I didn't much care for was what the publishers wanted put in during the re-writes, the more Bridget Jones elements. The group I was with had more direct experience earlier in their own lives of, variously, selling up for a new experience and sailing and, to my surprise, knowing something of their usual reading tastes, declared themselves enamoured. That said, I do like a bit of vicarious travel and there was an authenticity to the writing... enhanced later from hearing the author talk more about her experiences. Although in some ways the complications of her relationship with her first boat partner - was it to be a straightforward contract, a friendship or a 'relationship' - were rather tedious, I thought the issues drawn out were interesting and not often talked about in this way. The details of how this whole 'travelling the world by boat' community operates were also interesting and the section about the risks of piracy too. The section I was most comfortable with was about her time working on a Meditteranean super-yacht. Boy the crew has to work hard! I don't think she is intending to convey this but it reminded me of what we hear about Victorian servant life... albeit with blue skies.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    It says something about this book that it took me exactly one year to read! When I saw Casting Off on the bookshelf of my local store, I read the blurb on the back and just had to buy it. You see we (my hubby and me) are preparing to cast off ourselves, intending to get as far around the world as we can on our boat before we get a)bored, b)broke, c)ill, d)divorced through over-familiarity. So I was really looking forward to reading a novel about someone doing a 'leave it all behind and sail the It says something about this book that it took me exactly one year to read! When I saw Casting Off on the bookshelf of my local store, I read the blurb on the back and just had to buy it. You see we (my hubby and me) are preparing to cast off ourselves, intending to get as far around the world as we can on our boat before we get a)bored, b)broke, c)ill, d)divorced through over-familiarity. So I was really looking forward to reading a novel about someone doing a 'leave it all behind and sail the world', along with a little romantic twist of her own. But I can't help but agree with a previous reviewer who wrote that, while the story was good and the writing style ok, the book failed to draw me into any of the countries that Emma visited, or give me the empathy that I needed to feel with the characters she met along the way. It is so true that in order to write a page turner you have to be able to show instead of tell a story. This felt too autobiographical and whereas I should have felt drawn into the story I felt I was reading a long article about a time in Emma's life. As I said at the start it took me a year to read this book. I think that's due to the fact I just wasn't motivated enough to go back to it and care about the tale being told. Having said that, my bias towards sailing tales says don't be put off by my niggles! Read the book and at least you can spend a bit of time with a weird bloke and his cat in Borneo which in fact, acurately portrays quite a few sea salts we have met!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rosalind Black

    Wanderlust: A strong desire or impulse to travel.... Warning! This book will give you a massive case of the wanderlusts! If you've ever felt like giving everything up and running off somewhere (like I do very often!) then you will seriously fall into this book. The story is captivating, moreish and full of adventure and culture, yet still gives an honest (and humorous) account of the trials and tribulations encountered throughout. I have never sailed in my life, nor had any interest in it, but th Wanderlust: A strong desire or impulse to travel.... Warning! This book will give you a massive case of the wanderlusts! If you've ever felt like giving everything up and running off somewhere (like I do very often!) then you will seriously fall into this book. The story is captivating, moreish and full of adventure and culture, yet still gives an honest (and humorous) account of the trials and tribulations encountered throughout. I have never sailed in my life, nor had any interest in it, but that aspect did not put me off at all, and was a welcome glimpse into a world I know nothing about. I was expecting a bit of chick-lit, but relieved to find this not to be the case. I didn't want to put it down - I wanted to see where she was headed off to next! The ending definitely left you wanting more and I really hope there's a book to follow. An amazing story, written so well, and leaves you dangerously toying with the idea of booking a flight.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    I just loved this book. Literally I could not put it down, wanting to read it into late hours! Looking at the front I was expecting more of a romance novel but the author has created a great balance of travel writing... giving you interesting insights about different countries, inspiration....... on how to live your dream and ofcourse some not too heavy romantic fun! I would really recommend this to anybody (male of female) who is looking for a really good book to take you away from day to day l I just loved this book. Literally I could not put it down, wanting to read it into late hours! Looking at the front I was expecting more of a romance novel but the author has created a great balance of travel writing... giving you interesting insights about different countries, inspiration....... on how to live your dream and ofcourse some not too heavy romantic fun! I would really recommend this to anybody (male of female) who is looking for a really good book to take you away from day to day life. Just wonderful!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Fraser

    I enjoy reading books by women who do remarkable things, and Emma Bamford's account of her time on the high seas was entertaining and an education to me. This is something I would never, ever undertake so it was very interesting to read the experiences of such a courageous lady and I thoroughly recommend this book. I enjoy reading books by women who do remarkable things, and Emma Bamford's account of her time on the high seas was entertaining and an education to me. This is something I would never, ever undertake so it was very interesting to read the experiences of such a courageous lady and I thoroughly recommend this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine Sinclair

    Very interesting true story of a British journalist who left her career behind for a sailing adventure. It wasn't all beer and skittles, but it definitely was the right choice for her. A very good read! Very interesting true story of a British journalist who left her career behind for a sailing adventure. It wasn't all beer and skittles, but it definitely was the right choice for her. A very good read!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    A really enjoyable read, thoughtful and inspiring. If you have ever sat on a packed commuter train wondering how to escape the rat race, you will love this book. Lots of interesting detail about the sailing world, but still accessible if you know nothing about boats.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dee Mills

    Not in local libraries as of 9/23/14. Added to Amazon Wish List.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Furness

    A delightfully refreshing read 😎⛵️👍🏼

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana Bradbury

    Easy reAd on a rainy day. Emma's adventure is a very good book on the life of yatchies and crews and the day to day activities. Highly recommended. Easy reAd on a rainy day. Emma's adventure is a very good book on the life of yatchies and crews and the day to day activities. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Bunch

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Hager

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alisha Barnes

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anca Maria

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charissa

  31. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  32. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

  33. 4 out of 5

    Anna Neffendorf

  34. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  35. 5 out of 5

    Helen Tozer

  36. 4 out of 5

    Simon Jobson

  37. 4 out of 5

    Park Ridge Public Library

  38. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  39. 5 out of 5

    Ros Carling

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Marsden

  41. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

  42. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

  43. 5 out of 5

    Christian Williams

  44. 4 out of 5

    Takemetogreece

  45. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  46. 5 out of 5

    Mrs K Whittle

  47. 4 out of 5

    Kate Armitage

  48. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  49. 5 out of 5

    Janette Jones

  50. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Bohun

  51. 5 out of 5

    Ali Mousa

  52. 4 out of 5

    Aubreyokeeffekilkennycollege.ie

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