Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: My Rite of Passage During the Summer of '76 by H. Downing Lane

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for My Rite of Passage During the Summer of '76 by H. Downing Lane. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
Title: My Rite of Passage During the Summer of '76
Author: H. Downing Lane
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: April 15th 2020
Print Length: 194 pages
Genre: Memoir
MY RITE OF PASSAGE DURING THE SUMMER OF ’76 is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about adventure on the high seas with philosophical musings that add a resonant layer of depth.

In this memoir, H. Downing Lane recalls the 25-day transatlantic sailing trip he took in 1976 as a young man, the details of the journey around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and other locales, and reflects on its significance as a coming-of-age learning experience.

H. Downing Lane was 26 years old in 1976 when he decided to sign up for a transatlantic sailing trip into the Arctic with an accomplished captain named E. Newbold Smith. In this vivid, often exhilarating memoir, Lane draws from journal entries written during his time at sea to share an account of the remarkable voyage.

The Atlantic crossing was a 25-day affair, from Chesapeake Bay, around Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the coast of Norway. It was undertaken at a point in Lane’s life when he was feeling particularly vulnerable, as he was recovering from an accident in which he had lost an eye. He wished to “prove [his] mettle,” not to the other men aboard the boat, but to himself. As it turned out, Captain Smith was something of a kindred spirit, as he too had survived a devastating accident many years earlier. Lane provides the reader with a realistic vision of what life aboard a sailing vessel is like, from the often freezing temperatures above and below deck, to the many challenges presented by simple bodily necessities. He describes various technical aspects of working on the boat, but his language never devolves into jargon; his account is always perfectly clear and accessible.

Lane seasons the text with literary and philosophical quotes that frequently allow him to consider the greater meaning of his experience, and even of life itself. There are also numerous stunning photographs included of the boat and the various stops along the way.

Imagine enduring nine full days of constant soaking rain and wetness, seemingly endless mountainous roller coaster waves, bone-jarring hull-shakings, knuckle-numbing / teeth-chattering temps, a 45 degree heeling vessel, a revving locomotive engine sound of rushing waves beating against a hull and an inability to sit anywhere including the toilet without holding on with an iron grip, and add to that the stench of seasickness, sweat, body odor, and damp sleeping bags.

With a crew of six in calm waters, Reindeer was most likely a comfortable Sparkman and Stephens 43' sloop, but a crew of eight sailing in extreme conditions was a different story. In many ways the conditions below deck were far worse than above. Newbold had described conditions below as "comfortable". My experience was quite the opposite. 

"Comfortable?" maybe for a lottery ball in a spinning cage, a kernel of Jiffy popcorn on a hot burner or a fresh strawberry in smoothie blender. Maybe a Navy Seal on training ocean exercises. He was an iron man who had a different way than any other mere mortal.

Imagine a crewmember's greatest pleasure going on deck in the middle of almost hurricane conditions to escape the foul odors from below. Yes, getting off watch to get warm, eat and sleep below was slightly more desirable than being doused with salt water torture for four hours. Having those 8 hours off-watch always seemed just enough time for each of us to restore our energy, resolve and develop a willingness to perform adequately on deck. There were times, like every time, I could use another six days of rest and dream about waking up in a dry stationary bed. However, on a number of occasions I found myself yearning to return to deck duty before my watch time. The lesser of two evils!
H. Downing Lane is a retired educator, tutoring business owner, English teacher, coach and administrator who sails in his spare time. Presently he is writing a series of books that chronicle his sailing adventures.

Born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, he has returned home after 40 years to write. Henry taught sailing for eight years on Long Island Sound and sailed competitively on the Chesapeake Bay, crewed transatlantic to Iceland and Norway, been a crew member of a number of Annapolis – Newport and Newport – Bermuda races and sailed much of the Caribbean and Bahamas.

In 1978, he sailed the SORC around Florida. In 2008, he purchased Mystique, a 40′ leopard catamaran, and in 2013, he sailed it to Santo Domingo, the Turks and Cacaos and eventually to Florida.

In 2016, he sailed solo for 51 days through the Exumas. On another adventure he and Lainie Wrightson had a calamitous time together – losing both rudders – the basis of his second book, Bluewater Mystique. 

He has chartered boats to sail the Dalmatian Coast, Belize, Abacos, Eleuthera and the Maine coast. While maintaining his blog, he has written numerous blogs about life and sailing.

He is a dedicated learner and loves sharing his experiences and stories.

H. Downing Lane will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different blog on the tour each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

  2. What did this trip teach you about yourself?

  3. I like the cover. It has nice artwork.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  4. Sounds like a very memorable adventure.

  5. This sounds like a very good book.

  6. This would be in interesting read.
    Thank you for sharing the review.

  7. Very interesting, my brother would love to read this book.

  8. What's yr favourite children's book?

  9. What inspired you to write this book?

  10. The excerpt is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. Lovely cover! What I read about the book has intrigued me.

  12. Sounds like an interesting book. I like the cover.

  13. looks like a fun one

  14. It sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

  15. This sounds like a great adventure.

  16. This book sounds very good and would love to read it.