Life on a boat sounds like a dream: sailing in and out of tropical locales, embracing the staggering vastness of the sea, seeing the world up-close and in living color. Then there's the reality: homesick kids, pirates, costly and time-consuming repairs, squabbling. Black Wave details John and Jean Silverwood's tumultuous, yet ultimately rewarding, experience on the Emerald Jane, their 55-foot catamaran. In a span of two years, the California couple and their four kids (ages three to 14 at the start), traveled from the Atlantic coast, into the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean.

Then, near the end of the adventure, the boat hit a reef in French Polynesia, and was ravaged, pinning John under its mast in the process. With help hours away and John slipping toward death, the family sprung into action, pulling him from the wreckage and keeping him alive. "There is no time to rehearse; whoever you are in those moments is exactly who you are," John writes. "It is who your family is, too." Jean Silverwood complements the book's nautical action with substance. She throws readers into the frenzy of the wreck and details the highs and lows of life onboard, coming across as personable, vulnerable and concerned - in short, a real person and not an adrenaline junkie.

Given the material, it's impossible for Black Wave to be boring; there's plenty to keep readers turning the pages a steady clip, making this an ideal beach (or boat) read.

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