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  • Item# TRUE
  • ISBN13: 978-0-942679-33-5
  • ISBN: 978-0-942679-33-5
  • Copyright 2010
  • 192 pp.
  • 12.00oz
  • Form: Paperback, Trade paperback (US)
  • Price: $16.95
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True North
Journeys into the Great Northern Ocean


From the fiords of northern Labrador to the ice fields of western Greenland, from the outports of Newfoundland to the tiny fishing villages of Iceland and the Faroe Isles, best-selling author and lifelong sailor Myron Arms chronicles the experience of two-and-a-half decades of voyaging into some of the most remote destinations on Earth.

Presented as a series of sixteen personal essays, True North is at once a tale of white-knuckled adventure, a celebration of natural places, and a quest for contact with the planet we live on. The first five essays explore the motives of the author and those who sail with him on their first forays into the summer Atlantic. The next six essays evoke the allure of northern landscapes—the challenges of a stormy night at sea, the uncanny light of the Arctic sun at midnight, the pathos of pilot whales being driven to slaughter. The final five essays explore the geology, the archeology, the biochemistry, and the natural history of these same northern landscapes, broadening and universalizing their meaning until they become windows into the complex workings of the planet itself.

Thought-provoking and environmentally savvy, True North expresses one man’s fierce determination “to encounter the natural world, to live deliberately within it, to strive to minimize one’s footprint upon it, and to bear witness to it before it is altered irretrievably—before it is lost.”

What People are Saying

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Review reproduced in full)

True North: Journeys into the Great Northern Ocean Myron Arms Upper Access (, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-942679-33-5

Veteran sailor Arms (Servants of the Fish) writes a notable collection of essays of the sea and sailing in the far reaches of the Great Northern Ocean, braving the frigid waters and dodging the dangerous ice fields. His trusty boat, Brendan's Isle, and his sturdy crew, which includes his youngest son, Steve, move through these cold crossings with few perilous incidents , maintaining watch and the standard sea responsibilities. Arms's narrative is rich, descriptive, almost poetic, and full of voyaging on the water as he journeys along the fiords of northern Labrador to western Greenland and among the fishing villages of the Faroe Isles. Much more than a slight travelogue, the book hits its stride when Arms cautions against “expanding human waste, changing atmosphere chemistry, disappearing species, rising sea surface temperatures, thinning sea ice, and melting glaciers.” (Jan.)
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SAIL MAGAZINE (Reviewer: Meredith Laitos)

After lifelong sailor Myron Arms finished building his 50-ft cutter, he set off to the northern seas in search of adventure. Over the next two and a half decades he found isolated cultures, new companions, harsh weather and an enchanting pilgrimage that took him on the route of an ancient Irish warrior, Saint Brendan. Written as a series of 16 personal esseays, True North will leave you entranced with its tales of ice, mystery and hardship on some of the world's most challenging waters.

MAINE HARBORS (Reviewer: Carol Standish)

True North is the latest in the slight but remarkable oeuvre of Myron Arms. Teacher, sailor, explorer, writer, his previous work includes Riddle of the Ice (1998), Cathedral of the World (2000), and Servants of the Fish (2004). I am embarrassed to admit that I have read none of these books. Considering the length and breadth of my reading on marine subjects, how they escaped me is a mystery. However, if you are in my regrettable state, True North is a perfect introduction to Arms’ work . ..

The ambitious itinerary gives you an indication of the breadth of Arms’ preferred cruising grounds as well as his curiosity. But he wasn’t just cruising and he wasn’t just curious. A high school teacher in the 1970s, he traded in the classroom for his first blue water boat and founded (and led) a program of “sea learning” experiences. As a licensed Coast Guard ocean master, he sailed with hundreds of teenagers for the next five years. While aboard, they conducted a variety of scientific experiments. “The teacher was the sea…It was the beginning, really, of my own emerging awareness of the stresses being suffered by virtually all of the world's marine environments.

As the essays follow the journeys of Brendan’s Isle over the years, scientific information and analysis becomes more of a narrative focus than the more simple pleasures of the beauty of the physical world and the exhilaration of sailing. With this focus, the text becomes more engrossing, the journey more unique and urgent and ages of the crews grow up--from high-school-ers to young adult “sail-trainees.” What they discover over the course of more than twenty years is that in an environment that at first seems huge, fierce and implacable is as vulnerable as an alpine flower.

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW (Reviewer Micah Andrew)

The northern seas were never meant to be lived upon by humanity, but that never stops some people. "True North: Journeys Into the Great Northern Ocean" tells the story of life in the northern seas from Myron Arms as he reflects on his times in the northern Atlantic through essays on his adventures. A new perspective on ocean life and the arctic circle, "True North" is an entertaining and intriguing read that should not be ignored.

"Books for Grownups" Column

Veteran sailor Arms delivers a richly descriptive, almost poetic collection of essays about sailing up and down fiords from northern Labrador to western Greenland and among the fishing villages of the Faroe Isles. The sturdy crew of his trusty boat, Brendan's Isle, included his youngest son, Steve.


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