Champagne corks popped and locals raised their glasses of fizz to toast Captain Skip Rowland and his recently published book No Return Ticket, "A True Yarn of 20th Century Adventure at Sea." The Rossland Writers' Group hosted a small gathering at the Seniors' Hall to celebrate the author and hear him read from the book on Wednesday, November 2.
No Return Ticket is an account of some of Rowland's blue-water Pacific sailing adventures -- the California to Australia segment of a longer voyage. Rowland admits that he has another book nearly ready to publish, covering another episode of his sailing experiences.
Rowland read a passage from the latter part of his book, describing how he and his crew survived a hair-raising storm on the 43-foot ketch Endymion. The audience was spell-bound.
The first part of the book tells a bit about how Rowland came to know and love sailing. He comes by it honestly. At the Seniors' Hall, Rowland explained, "My grandfather raced across the Atlantic in 1905, in his 130-foot schooner; my father was a sailing champ. When I was growing up, I always had the dream of sailing around the world, or being a vagabond at sea. But to do it, you have to have an income, of course." He went on to describe how he started a manufacturers' "rep agency" shortly after getting out of the Marine Corps, and how it evolved into a lucrative business which he was eventually able to sell for enough money to fund his sailing ambitions.
The beginning of the book also describes the first vessel he had built for his plan to sail around the world, and its tragic fate -- as well as his experience of a Mexican jail, and why he was there.
Rowland's writing is rambunctious and action-packed, and rich in interesting characters. Some of those characters require safeguards against their plotting, and Rowland explained how he would ensure that new and unknown crew members could not, for example, plant incriminating objects on his vessel, or get the better of him by means of certain other criminal acts.
Asked if he would go sailing again, 79-year-old Rowland said, "I have health issues. But if I were healthy enough -- oh, yes!" He and his lovely wife, Denise, settled in Rossland a few years ago and say they never want to leave.
Several Rosslanders are now armchair sailors with our noses in Rowland's first book, and will be waiting for the second one to come out.