Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father

Harvey, Brian

  • Shortlisted for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction

    An adventure story set against the backdrop of a son trying to understand his father

    After a 25-year break from boating, Brian Harvey circumnavigates Vancouver Island with his wife, his dog, and a box of documents that surfaced after his father’s death. John Harvey was a neurosurgeon, violinist, and photographer who answered his door a decade into retirement to find a sheriff with a summons. It was a malpractice suit, and it did not go well. Dr. Harvey never got over it. The box contained every nurse’s record, doctor’s report, trial transcript, and expert testimony related to the case. Only Brian’s father had read it all — until now.

    In this beautifully written memoir, Brian Harvey shares how after two months of voyaging with his father’s ghost, he finally finds out what happened in the O.R. that crucial night and why Dr. Harvey felt compelled to fight the excruciating accusations.

    Nominated for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award


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  • Brian Harvey grew up on the West Coast of Canada. His first full-length book for a general audience (The End of the River, ECW) was published in 2008 and was followed by three works of fiction. He lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and his main interests are playing the piano and working on his boat.

  • Published: May 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414778

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 384

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Sea Trial is a riveting account of two intertwined voyages of adventure and introspection. Brian Harvey writes with wit, intelligence, dry modesty and high style as he tells the stories of a hazardous and difficult sea passage and an exploration of his father’s long-ago malpractice trial. A fascinating and wholly engaging book.” — Derek Lundy, author of the bestselling Godforsaken Sea

“Harvey has serious skills, and his riveting story is impossible to put down.” — Cruising World

“Harvey’s fascinating exploration of his father’s pain goes well beyond talented description. With sensitivity, he probes his father’s emotions and inadvertently his own as he unravels and explains a tragic backstory . . . The trials Harvey encounters — personal, meteorological, and indeed adjudicative — are arresting.” — Literary Review of Canada

Sea Trial is a fine book. It’s a cathartic story told with well-placed sailing metaphors.” — Book Island blog

Sea Trial is gripping from the very first page. You need to be a good navigator to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, with a ragged western coastline known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. You also need to be a skilled writer to navigate the shoals, cross-currents, and uncertain weathers of such an ambitious floating memoir. Brian Harvey is both.” — Gary Geddes, author of the bestselling Sailing Home and Medicine Unbundled

“Brian Harvey’s Sea Trial defies easy description. In fact, that is exactly one of its — considerable — strengths . . . With a sharp eye for telling detail, and inventive language, Harvey is a writer who knows how to fix on the less to evoke the more.” — The Ormsby Review

“Irresistible . . . Semi-psychological and cathartic at the same time, Sea Trial was a highly enjoyable read . . . If you are a sailing enthusiast (armchair or otherwise) then Sea Trial deserves a place on your shelf alongside Joshua Slocum, Henry Dana Jr. and others who so masterfully brought the world of sail to life in printed form.” — Miramichi Reader