On Whale Island by Daniel Hays
Notes from a Place I Never Meant to Leave

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Synopsis

After Daniel Hays and his father built a twenty-five-foot boat and sailed it around Cape Horn, he thought he'd finally put his wanderlust to rest. He went back to school, bought a house, took a job, got married.

But as it turned out, in the real world Daniel Hays felt lost. So he took his love for the sea and his need to escape civilization and pushed it further: he bought an island off the coast of Nova Scotia; built a tiny house; packed up his wife and stepson, two dogs, and three boatloads of supplies; and moved there.

This is the story of fulfilling a fantasy: to live by your own rules and your own wits. And Daniel Hays, as readers of My Old Man and the Sea will remember, is well equipped to do both. He generates electricity from solar power and a terrifying windmill, funnels rainwater for their showers, creates a toilet seat out of a whale vertebra, strings their bed up on pulleys so that by day it can be lifted out of the way. For him, every morning is a wonder and every storm a blood-coursing thrill.

But while Daniel loves this permanent boy's life, his wife longs for the life they left behind, and his spirited stepson is feeling isolated. Soon, their Swiss Family Robinson existence becomes a vision only Daniel can see.

Funny, tender, and fascinating, filled with the details of an unconventional life, this is the story of how the Hays family lived on Whale Island, and how, finally, they had to leave.
 

About Daniel Hays

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Hays has worked as a field supervisor at a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teenagers, holds a 2nd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, has a master's degree in environmental science, and has a captain's license for boats rated up to 25 tons. He and his father were the first Americans to sail around Cape Horn in a boat under 30 feet in length.
 
Published May 31, 2002 by Algonquin Books. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Much of the material, though nicely shaped, is simply a recounting of activities: putting up wood for winter (though how they burn all that unseasoned wood is a mystery), making a dock, building and rebuilding all the stuff they need (and, killing time, don’t need: “Now comes the really stupid pa...

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The New York Times

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Today, several hundred thousand dollars will buy you a twenty-acre island in Maine, but almost all such islands are in sight of the busy coastal roads.

Jul 07 2002 | Read Full Review of On Whale Island: Notes from a...

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