Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together

by Nathaniel Philbrick


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A charming memoir of midlife by the bestselling author of Mayflower and In the Hurricane's Eye, recounting his attempt to recapture a national sailing championship he'd won at twenty-two.

“There had been something elemental and all consuming about a Sunfish. Nothing could compare to the exhilaration of a close race in a real blow—the wind howling and spray flying as my Sunfish and I punched through the waves to the finish.”

In the spring of 1992, Nat Philbrick was in his late thirties, living with his family on Nantucket, feeling stranded and longing for that thrill of victory he once felt after winning a national sailing championship in his youth. Was it a midlife crisis? It was certainly a watershed for the journalist-turned-stay-at-home dad, who impulsively decided to throw his hat into the ring, or water, again.

With the bemused approval of his wife and children, Philbrick used the off-season on the island as his solitary training ground, sailing his tiny Sunfish to its remotest corners, experiencing the haunting beauty of its tidal creeks, inlets, and wave-battered sandbars. On ponds, bays, rivers, and finally at the championship on a lake in the heartland of America, he sailed through storms and memories, racing for the prize, but finding something unexpected about himself instead.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143132097
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/06/2018
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 387,020
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award; Mayflower, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award; Sea of Glory; The Last Stand; Why Read Moby Dick?; Valiant Ambition; and Away Off Shore.


Nantucket, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 11, 1956

Place of Birth:

Boston, Massachusetts


B.A., Brown University, 1978; M.A., Duke University

Read an Excerpt

The Race

Excerpted from "Second Wind"
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Copyright © 2018 Nathaniel Philbrick.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Prologue 1

Part I A Pool in the Stream 7

The Race 9

Up a Creek 18

In a Bog 25

The Green Gush 31

Love's Handiwork 39

Time Travel 43

The Suit 52

Steering Without a Rudder 54

Death Roll: Coskata 59

In the Cocktail Glass 66

Strolling Through History 70

The Jibing Hamster 73

Coastal Retreat 79

Dancing with Seals 82

Part II This Is Only a Test 87

Details 89

A Different World 93

Into the Maelstrom 98

Roll Call 103

Over Early 106

What Ifs 111

Part III The Swift Monster 113

Oedipal Sailing 115

The Prop 123

Pre-Cut 126

Power in the Pond 131

The Cut 135

Part IV Down the River 139

Reassembling Childhood 141

Logistics 144

Rollin' 149

The Deluge 157

Sail to the Sea 162

Part V Showtime 169

In Limbo 171

Taking Measure 174

Doppelgänger 179

The Ultimate Captain's House 185

Day One 190

Day Two 196

Day Three 204

Epilogue 211

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Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SamForman More than 1 year ago
Renewing Life and Family Among Sea Breezes and Salt Air Second Wind is a reissue of Nathaniel Philbrick’s 1999 intimate memoir of his midlife odyssey, emerging from years of domesticity as a stay at home dad on Nantucket, to reconnect with family and life on a larger stage. This little volume had been published by a small press and had not reached as many readers as have Philbrick’s subsequent titles, including Mayflower, In the Heart of the Sea, Bunker Hill, and many others. So Second Wind will be new to the majority of readers. Full of deprecating humor, elemental connection with water, wind and quirky island locales, you will find yourself cheering as Philbrick embarks on a quixotic quest to recapture a high point of his youth – winning a national championship sailing race. Mind you, this does not involve the grand yachts, deep pockets, and huge egos of America’s Cup competitors, but rather those VW Beetles of sail - the minuscule Sunfish. What the little craft lack in cache and champagne salutes, they more than make up for in intimacy with water and wind. You will learn much about the subtleties of captaining these craft, all the while enjoying a travelogue of charming Nantucket on-island waterways, and the arc of his growing re-connection with family, engendered by the quest to be a sailing champion once again. Anyone with a penchant for nautically themed adventures, be they sailors themselves or just those who enjoy the feel of sand between their toes and humid breezes caressing their faces, will enjoy Second Wind. It is also a feel-good athletic quest and modern family saga. Others will be fascinated by learning more about the sources of the author’s connection with nautical themes – as he has impressively brought decidedly larger non-fiction tales of oceanic Leviathans and appreciation for the classic novel Moby Dick to the acclaim of many readers. A few incorrigible landlubbers, those who could not care less about involving descriptions placing you right in the cockpit of sailboat races, should read Philbrick’s other titles.