As an avid scuba diver and ocean worshiper, I jumped at the chance to review the book “White Sails Became Me” by Nicholas F. Starace II. I had no idea of the subject of the book beyond its attachment to sailing and perhaps the ocean. The book is simply his autobiography. His life was touched by many significant people and global incidents which he interweaves with the personal events of his life. Through it all, he tells an interesting story of growing up and living around the sea, and the effect of his choices on his family. I was thoroughly engaged and aware of my own personal choices while reading.
Starace tells of his first heartbreak, a sixteen foot rowboat that was stolen, and of his father’s heartbreaks with their 32 foot cabin cruiser Dolores I that sank along with its sister Dolores II. He tells of his love of the ocean and boating, and how that love guided his life. He tells of the loss of his grandfather who gave to him the feelings for boats and boat building. He tells of further losses of his family members through suicide, divorce and cancer. The stories in this book are poignant and gripping. Starace writes expressively about his life and the reader is filled with the same emotions he feels. The most serious incident, the author’s struggle with cancer, focuses on the message of the book. Starace writes “Why do cruel and inexplicable things happen?” and the answer simply is “it is beyond our comprehension.”
The author tells personal stories of his tours in England, Japan, Italy, and Africa. The latter story filled with the beauty seen on safari and the violence of the animal kingdom. His experience with the terrorist that bombed Pan Am flight 830, his description of living through an earthquake that others did not survive, the loss of his young son to suicide are all told in an insightful and graceful manner.
The story of his life after retirement is refreshing as he works as an actor/model, a writer and continues his travels of the world. The book culminates with his speaking at the commencement of his receiving his Master’s Certificate from the US Coast Guard. He writes “I was pleased with my life. I have lived with a positive attitude, and more important, a vigorous new life.” Starace tells us that there is new life after any tragedy.