Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Travel Essays & Travelogues

Running Away to Sea

Round the World on a Tramp Freighter

by (author) George Fetherling

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2008
Essays & Travelogues, General, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2008
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2008
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


At a turning point in his life, George Fetherling embarked on an adventure to sail round the world on one of the last of the tramp freighters. The four-month voyage carried him 30,000 nautical miles from Europe via the Panama Canal to the South Pacific and back by way of Singapore, Indonesia, the Indian Ocean, and Suez.

Written with dash, colour, and droll humour, Fetherling’s narrative is peopled by a rich cast of characters, from the Foreign Legionnaires of French Polynesia to the raskol gangs of Papua New Guinea. The author captures the reality of life aboard a working cargo ship – the boredom, the seclusion, the differences of nationality and culture that isolation and cramped quarters seem to exaggerate. But the routine of loneliness or tranquility is punctuated by moments of near-panic – shipboard fires, furniture-smashing storms, even a brush with pirates in the Straits of Malacca.

About the author

A.F. Moritz has published more than twenty collections of poetry as well as important works of literary history and numerous translations of Latin American verse. A leading figure in the literary life of Canada, he has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a major award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Two of his most recent works have reaffirmed his reputation: Night Street Repairs (2004) received the ReLit Award and The Sentinel (2008) won both the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine and the Griffin Poetry Prize. He teaches at the University of Toronto.

George Fetherling's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"His memoir of the voyage has a large, colourful cast of characters, and nicely captures the shipboard feeling of tranquil loneliness punctuated by panicky emergencies."

Globe & Mail, The

"Fetherling fashions nuanced descriptions of a seen-better-days ship, raggedy yet competent crew, screwball fellow passengers, and benign, dangerous and somewhere-in-between Third World ports of call. Yet his writing never tipples over into loading on the minutiae. (Often fatal to the pace of a travel narrative.) A similar deft balance surfaces at each new port of call. In just the right measure he blends his eyewitness rambles with historical and political background, or geological and topographical summaries, or both. The result is a highly intelligent chronicle, but delivered in an accessible and spiritedly personal way."

Winnipeg Free Press

Other titles by George Fetherling