Karlsen’s tales are of several oceans and seas, the two major canals of the world, two ships and the men who sailed on them, and of good, bad, indifferent, and horrible ports of call. The beauty of the stories is that they compress a lot of LIFE – more than 38,000 nautical miles of it, into a little over a year... but most of all, these are tales of No Ordinary Seaman.
It is the mid-1960s, a time of cultural change and an awakening consciousness of worlds beyond our shores. A brazen young man, fresh out of high school in Vancouver, crews on a deep-sea freighter in the hopes that it will take him to Norway, the land of his ancestors. The author’s voyages, recounted with wit and humour, begin on the southwest coast of BC, and continue along the sea of life, to unexpected destinations. In his memoir, No Ordinary Seaman, Gary Karlsen unravels some of the unfathomable mysteries of deep-sea shipping and the idiosyncratic lives of sailors. Between voyages he discovers his roots in Norway, and becomes immersed in a family larger than he has ever known. But he is soon called back to the sea – his chosen road home.
Roger Elmes, Officer, Royal Canadian Navy (Ret.)