The Obsession: Tragedy in the North Atlantic.


244 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-0-670-06501-1
DDC 910.9163'1





Reviewed by Gordon Turner

Gordon Turner is the author of Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific’s
Greatest Ship and the editor of SeaFare, a quarterly newsletter on sea


Thomas Evensen’s obsession was to sail the North Atlantic in a 36-foot boat from Canada to Norway, homeland of his ancestors. The story of the man and his boat, Silver, is almost a manual on how not to attempt an ocean crossing. The boat was ill-suited for the voyage, the planning was totally inadequate, and the crew’s sailing skills were limited or non-existent. These factors, together with Evensen’s sometimes poor judgment and downright bad luck, almost guaranteed failure. Nevertheless, Silver left Toronto in July 2004 with five people aboard, none an experienced sailor, heading for Newfoundland before tackling the inhospitable waters of the North Atlantic. When Silver pulled away from Newfoundland in mid-August, the crew was down to two: Evensen and his teenaged nephew Kristian Carlo (K.C.) Maple—too few to handle the boat properly. Before long, they had lost the Zodiac, an inflatable dinghy for emergency use. Soon afterward, the sea anchor was gone, and a huge tear rendered a large sail useless. A recalcitrant engine constantly gave trouble, and the hull leaked. Evensen’s mechanical abilities brought him a good living on land, but did not serve him well at sea. Silver finally disintegrated off Iceland, and while K.C. survived, Thomas Evensen perished.


The author had done a thorough job of research. He keeps the story moving along briskly when he writes about the voyage. He also relates at length—perhaps at greater length than necessary—about the family backgrounds of Thomas and K.C., as if to explain their personalities and their motivation to make this voyage. Chipman is an able writer, and his book is a useful addition to the literature of small-boat voyages.


Chipman, John., “The Obsession: Tragedy in the North Atlantic.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,