My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ‘76

Today it is my pleasure to welcome H. Downing Lane and his memoir My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ‘76.

Author’s description

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.

About the Author

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.

Find the Author


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Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.


(I do love exclusive excerpts!)

It was understandable but no one saw it happen. There were no witnesses. After all, the weather conditions during the night barely allowed anyone on deck to observe anything other than pitch black. It had been so dark that even seeing your watch mate was difficult a few feet away. Visibility that night was equivalent to being locked in a dark and dank churning coal bin dungeon.  Even the oncoming huge waves during the turmoil in the midst of the 2nd of 4 gales were difficult to anticipate. While we knew they were coming at us, they did not appear until just before our bow either dipped or sliced into them. They appeared like sea mammoths, like sea leviathans spraying their spume on our deck and tossing us around in the darkness. We were a mere toy in a tub. A teapot in a tempest. Mere moths against monsters. Without stars to light them up, without any depth perspective and with almost constant rain pelting down, the waves appeared more magnified monstrosities than ever. Each night felt surreal outside on deck, as the only visibility we had was a trail of phosphorus tailing us in our white wake. So we had the perfect setting for a mystery.

Thank you!

H. Downing Lane   — we appreciate your sharing My Rite of Passage During the Summer of ‘76 with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

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