A Star to Sail Her By: A Five-Year Odyssey of Coming of Age at Sea


Written by a high school student, this memoir captures one family's remarkable sailing journey that encompassed five years and more than 25,000 nautical miles.

In 2003, casting their fortunes— and their lives—to the wind, the Ellison family embarked on what they thought would be a one-year voyage on their forty-seven-foot sloop, Promise. Five years and more than 25,000 nautical miles later, the family of four returned to the United States to dry land.

In this memoir, author Alex Ellison chronicles his family's adventures on the seas. Culled from a detailed daily journal that Ellison began keeping at the onset of the voyage when he was just eight years old, A Star to Sail Her By reveals his transition from enthusiastic child to capable sailor and reflective young adult. He learned two important lessons as they traveled from port to port: not everything always works the way it should, and change is really the only thing you can count on.

In this detailed narrative, Ellison describes how he and his family feasted with local hosts on remote atolls, danced with hula girls, plummeted down a tube of coral due to fierce currents, and navigated natural minefields in atolls. He learned what it means to conserve, to be brave, and what it means to value the very gift of life.


About the Author

Alex Ellison originally from Essex, CT, sailed 25,000 nautical miles before the age of 15. He is currently at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he is still on the water as a member of the varsity crew team. He writes for the International Journal for Human Rights, and he has published four articles previously about aspects of this sailing journey.