Voice of a Voyage
by Doann Houghton-Alico

Sunstone Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-865-34990-2.
Reviewed by Pat Bean
Posted on 11/18/2015

Nonfiction: Memoir

I traveled across North America, without roots, for nine years. And when it came time to settle, I knew I had changed. How would a similar time on water change Doann Houghton-Alico, I wondered, as I began to read her book, Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World during a Ten-Year Circumnavigation?

While my mode of travel was a 22 by 7.5-foot motorhome that I called Gypsy Lee, the author's was a 63 by 15.5-foot specially designed sailing vessel dubbed Bali Ha'i III. While our method of travel was worlds apart and I knew only little about ocean sailing, I am a wanderer at heart and know the joys of a journey in which every day holds new experiences, new people and eagerness tinged with anxiousness about the unknown path ahead. So it was with anticipation that I dived into Houghton-Alico's travel/memoir.

Not a page disappointed.

This is not a book about being young and setting off to see the world; it is a book about a woman in her 60s who has already seen much of the world and now wants to make sense of it. From the start of the journey—west from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to its final destination 10 years later, at the same port from which it began—this is the story of a woman's passage from one life to another.

The author's voyage with her husband, Wayne, covered 43,000 nautical miles with stops in 41 countries. Along the way were whales and orangutans, swimming with sea creatures, exotic food, a near boarding of their sailboat by pirates, boat-damaging storms—and the changing relationship between wife and husband.

Houghton-Alico saw the world through eyes aware of what need, as well as excess and greed, were doing to the planet we all live on. The loss of trees for firewood and the loss of the ocean's bounty because of overfishing, created by locals close to home and the offshore fishing industry at sea, worried her.

"We live with what we have done, and what we have not done," she wrote.

Voice of a Voyage includes Houghton-Alico's poetry that describes with grace the people and events that collided with her journey. My favorite was her poem called "I'm Hungry," written after visiting a back-alley Cambodian orphanage. She was going to buy treats for the children. "No, aunty," her driver told her. "Buy rice and vegetables. They need those most." The poem compared her hunger for life and love to the children's hunger for safety and food.

The book is written through the eyes of a historian who is knowledgeable about the past that took place where she walks in the present. Finding parallels between the past and present is like "puzzle solving," she wrote.

This is a book for all who question life, all who want to know more about the world we live in, and all who enjoy traveling the world—even if it's a voyage made in a favorite recliner. It both delights the soul with beauty and disturbs the mind with unpleasant realities. Best of all, it makes one think.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Doann Houghton-Alico is a poet, author and public speaker. In addition to Voice of a Voyage about her 10-year circumnavigation of the globe, she has also written a poetry book called Dancing Fish. She describes herself as a lover of the sea and as a woman fascinated by other cultures and intrigued by the behavior of wildlife and the patterns and processes of the natural world. Visit her website.

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