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The Cruise of the Snark

Jack London

Book Overview: 

The Cruise of the Snark is a memoir of Jack and Charmian London’s 1907-1909 voyage across the Pacific. His descriptions of “surf-riding”, which he dubbed a “royal sport”, helped introduce it to and popularize it with the mainland. London writes:

Through the white crest of a breaker suddenly appears a dark figure, erect, a man-fish or a sea-god, on the very forward face of the crest where the top falls over and down, driving in toward shore, buried to his loins in smoking spray, caught up by the sea and flung landward, bodily, a quarter of a mile. It is a Kanaka on a surf-board. And I know that when I have finished these lines I shall be out in that riot of color and pounding surf, trying to bit those breakers even as he, and failing as he never failed, but living life as the best of us may live it.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .there was the land, fading away before our eyes in the fires of sunset. The land was all right. There was no disputing it. Therefore our navigation was all wrong. But it wasn't. That land we saw was the summit of Haleakala, the House of the Sun, the greatest extinct volcano in the world. It towered ten thousand feet above the sea, and it was all of a hundred miles away. We sailed all night at a seven-knot clip, and in the morning the House of the Sun was still before us, and it took a few more hours of sailing to bring it abreast of us. "That island is Maui," we said, verifying by the chart. "That next island sticking out is Molokai, where the lepers are. And the island next to that is Oahu. There is Makapuu Head now. We'll be in Honolulu to-morrow. Our navigation is all right."


"It will not be so monotonous at sea," I promised my fellow-voyagers on the Snark. "The sea is filled with life. It is so p. . . Read More

Community Reviews


I loved Jack London's life when I was much younger, and well, I still do. I dreamed of sailing the seas as he had. I loved his stone house in Glen Ellen and wished to live there, and I loved and wanted all of his souvenirs from the different islands that he had

Jack London's The Cruise of the Snark is not so much a book as a collection of magazine articles packaged as a book. And that is its main weakness. Toward the end, when the Snark is visiting the Solomon Islands and London becomes ill with a strange skin disease, London's writing becomes different an

I have been overwhelmed by the writings of Jack London for quite some time. The first book I had read was Call of the Wild after which White Fang piqued my interest. They were good books but my experience was limited to that feel good effect that doesn’t last very long.

Once the pandemic had set in,

“Tutto ebbe inizio in piscina a Glenn Ellen. Tra una nuotata e l’altra era nostra abitudine uscire e stenderci sulla sabbia, consentendo alla nostra pelle di respirare l’aria calda ed immergersi nella luce del sole. Roscoe era un diportista. Io ero stato occupato un po’ per mare. Era inevitabile che

The author is a bit snarky at times, and occasionally, socialism rears its ugly poll. But it's a great humorous seafaring adventure tale with a serious moral... And that is: keep away from the #%&@ Solomon Islands!

On April 23, 1907, Jack London sailed out of San Francisco Bay to Hawaii, accompanied by his wife and a small crew, aboard the ship he built, the Snark. The details of that journey, which would take London and crew throughout the South Pacific and ultimately to Australia, are recounted in The Cruise

Jack London's squall-infused, sickness-filled, Snark-y voyage is a sailing classic and product of its time, for better and worse. Compare his tongue-in-cheek narrative with his very real sufferings, his sympathetic view of Molokai versus his feelings of white superiority, or his socialist conviction

London's story of his attempt to sail around the world on a largely self-built yacht, the Snark. It was pretty much a failure of a trip, with problems starting even before they set sail from San Francisco. The yacht cost much more than London had figured, and the departure was delayed, in part, by l

The story of Jack London's ill-fated voyage halfway around the world over a hundred years ago gets one thumb up from me. While it was entertaining in several aspects and places, it bogged down in the minutia of who had what tropical disease for how long and how much they vomited, etc, etc, etc as we

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