Deborah Scaling Kiley

"Albatross:  
The True Story of a Woman's Survival at Sea"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 30, 1998)

Albatross by Deborah Scaling Kiley

In October 1982, Deborah and several other people set out from Maine to deliver the 58-foot yacht Trashman. On their way to Florida, they meet gale winds and high seas off the coast of North Carolina. The yacht sinks and the crew are left adrift in a rubber dinghy without food or water. Three of them end up dying. Deborah and one other were able to hang on for 4 days until rescued. This is frightening tale of endurance and survival, but also a lesson on listening to your inner voice.

I was at my favorite bookstore in Portsmouth NH and this author was doing a book signing. I didn't actually buy the book signed.  Instead I stood nearby and pretended to look through books while I listened to her talk to a friend she hadn't seen in years, but one who obviously knew about her survival story. Going by appearances, I would not have put Ms. Scaling-Riley anywhere near a boat, but she was talking about this incredible thing that happened to her. So after she left (I'm shy), I went over and picked up the book. The book itself is not that well written, but the story is interesting. As a sailor, I cringed throughout the book at the problems and signs that this was not going to work out right. While reading Into Thin Air, I was reminded of this book. I think the correlation is that the authors were dependent on total strangers for their adventure and lives. After reading Albatross I was cured of my whimsical daydream of crewing for total strangers. 

This book was made into a movie a few years ago - but so much of the detail is changed (like the movie takes place on the West coast, not the East) that it was very disappointing.

  • Amazon readers' rating: from 4 reviews


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About the Author:

Deborah Scaling KileyDeborah Scaling Kiley had a lot of sailing experience prior to the one detailed in this account. Her experience included Caribbean charters, Trans-Atlantic crossings, and a year's stint as the first American woman to sail in the prestigious (and grueling) Whitbread competition. In her youth, she participated in an Outward Bound program that later helped her survive the wreck of the TRASHMAN.She went on to graduate from the University of Texas in 1999 and now routinely speaks and writes about survival.

Kiley lives in Texas with her children, Marka and John.

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