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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! All Hands on Deck (by Will Sofrin)

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

I'm very pleased to announce my first sale of 2022, Will Sofrin's debut book All Hands on Deck, to Jamison Stoltz at Abrams Press.

In 2001, 20th Century Fox purchased the American tall ship Rose to play the HMS Surprise in the feature film Master and Commander, based on Patrick O'Brian's beloved historical novels. It had to be this ship—director Peter Weir wanted the film to be as historically accurate as possible, and there was nothing else even remotely like it. This replica of a rare eighteenth-century warship would sail from Newport, Rhode Island to the Galapagos and on to San Diego for filming. The challenge was astronomical; few people knew how to navigate a ship like the Rose out of port, let alone on the open ocean.

All Hands on Deck is a maritime memoir that follows the crew of misfits hired by Hollywood to sail this 180-foot-long colonial-era warship on what turned out to be a star-crossed voyage. At the time, Will was a 21-year-old wooden boat builder who reluctantly abandoned the glamorous world of professional yacht racing to join the Rose as the ship’s carpenter. Just a few days into the trek a terrifying hurricane-strength storm nearly sank the ship. Will had to free-climb fifty feet up a mast in 90+ mph winds to secure a sail and prevent disaster. Then a rogue wave struck, causing a rare (and often fatal) dismasting. To top it off, Will had to learn to operate a cannon because the Rose nearly ran into modern-day pirates off the coast of El Salvador. Not that the journey was all peril and no play, as Will found both romance and enduring friendships among the crew.

HMS Rose
The HMS Surprise -- the ship that starred in the feature film Master and Commander -- in all of its glory. Photo by Jerry Soto.

Despite enjoying sailing periods at Camp Belknap twenty-five-odd years ago, my sailing acumen is limited at best. So I appreciated the various historical and technical asides Will provided to help readers enjoy how unique the HMS Rose is among tall ships still sailing today, as well as what life was like for a crew sailing a ship like this two-hundred years ago. All Hands on Deck is meant to appeal to anyone who loves adventure and coming-of-age stories. After two years of pandemic living, All Hands on Deck should feel like a breath of fresh ocean air that speaks to an age-old human love for leaving home, setting out, and embracing uncertainty.

And Will is the perfect person to write this book. He is a master shipwright who has taught naval architecture at MIT and built boats for Billy Joel and Estée Lauder. As a former professional sailor and licensed captain, he has tracked over 30,000 blue-water miles. In 2014, Will launched a luxury architectural design firm in LA. One of the fun ways he'll be promoting this book over the next year is by building a scale model of the Rose, which he will document on instagram (@will.sofrin).

Here is the Publisher's Marketplace deal memo:

Congrats to Will and to his excellent editor at Abrams, Jamison Stoltz, who is now shepherding two of my authors through the publishing process! (Steve Hendricks's The Oldest Cure in the World, a narrative exploration of fasting, will publish this Fall.)


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