Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Sail Into Adventure With ‘My First Five Years at Sea’

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My First Five Years at Sea

And Other Tall Tales

By John M. Tabor

Fiction/Historical Fiction/Action & Adventure

Via: Author Request

Summary: A country boy from Kansas makes an unexpected U-turn into high adventure on the water.

Shanghaied onto a rum runner in the 1930s, MIT-bound James Tyler sails into history and adventure faster than you can say, “Captain Anne Bonny.” He manages to land on his feet, “moving from one unexpected maritime intrigue to another.”

This fast-paced romp includes memorable characters and spirited hijinks on the open sea from Canada to the Bahamas, San Diego to Seattle, and El Caribe. Also running guns to the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Braving the gales of November aboard a tug on Lake Superior. Becoming a commercial diver in pursuit of sunken treasure. Also a crew that includes the enigmatic Samuel, a Masai warrior with “second sight,” and a moray eel named Percival.


Also in the mix: Tyler winds up shipwrecked and marooned on an atoll and rescued by… Nope. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. So I won’t. Let’s just say clever plot twists abound. Darn clever. So is “Bones.” (You’ll have to read the book to get that one.) Then it’s on to Venezuela and… Oops! Sorry. You’ll still have to read the book to find out what happens next. I’d grab an oar ‘fize you.

A Little of Everything

Action-packed and eminently engaging, My First Five Years at Sea offers a little of everything: A little Kidnapped. Some Cast Away. A bit of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Also Mutiny on the Bounty, Men of Honor, and a dash of The Sun Also Rises. See?

It’s also more than a “memoir” about one man’s travels and adventures. Much more. It’s clever and inventive. Historical references and figures are skillfully woven into the plot, whetting a reader’s appetite for more.


Seasoned with gentle humor, this entertaining story had me chuckling in nearly every chapter. It’s a rollicking good read. 

Indeed, alert readers may find something unexpected as the story comes about and head to its home port. But let’s not get ahead or ourselves, okay? For that bit of fun, you’ll have to climb aboard yourself. You may want to bring a sweater.

In truth, we found this a bit slow out of the gate. But that’s probably because someone with an adorable furry face who shall remain nameless kept interrupting. At any rate, the story gains speed quickly. You can almost feel the wind “filling yards of sheet” and the slap of sea spray on your face.

In Conclusion

The text would benefit from a professional edit. But robust writing and vivid descriptions combined with memorable characters and wry wit serve up an enjoyable, engaging read that’s Just. Plain. Fun.

Our Rating: 3.0

(We wanted to rate this book higher. But the number of typos, etc. throughout precluded same.)

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