So Far, So Good recounts the story of an ordinary man who has enjoyed extraordinary adventures throughout his life. Trained as a civil engineer, Paddy Barry managed to combine raising a family with exploring remote parts of the world, often on his Galway Hooker sailing boat. From Siberia to Tierra del Fuego, Connemara to Malawi, Greenland to Ethiopia, on mountains and on sea, Paddy has endured hardships and visited places very few could match.
In this fascinating memoir, Paddy describes sailing his leaking Galway Hooker across the Atlantic Ocean to a triumphant arrival in Boston Harbour; a near ‘wipe out’ while successfully recreating Ernest Shackleton’s exploits in Antarctica; capsizing near Mount Brandon on the night of the Fastnet Race disaster; accomplishing the first westward circumnavigation of the North Pole in a small boat, winning the Blue Water Medal; completing the hazardous journey through the Northwest Passage, one of only a handful of boats to do so; and a few less perilous journeys such as sailing across the Bay of Biscay to trade Irish woollens and whiskey for Spanish wine and cheeses – though even then they nearly collided with a tugboat and its tow – and retracing the remarkable journeys of Irish monks in Iceland.
On land Paddy had further adventures building bridges in the fierce heat in Malawi, and later in life worked for the Rapid Response Team for the United Nations World Food Programme in Ethiopia. And in Ireland he worked on the construction of the iconic Poolbeg Stacks which still dominate the Dublin skyline, and which his children always referred to as ‘Daddy’s Chimneys’.
But he was always drawn back to the sea.
So Far, So Good is a rollicking, delightful account of a life truly well lived, and a striking example of a work/life balance that is much to be envied.