Reviews From 2002

October 2002 Newsletter

December 2002 Newsletter

In Shackleton’s Wake

by Arved Fuchs (Sheridan House, Inc., 2001; 187 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Guy Wray, Plymouth, Minn.
Good Old Boat, January 2002

Is it cynical to place yourself voluntarily in the position of desperate men whose only thought was of reaching home safely?” An interesting question. Author Arved Fuchs asks this question several different ways during the telling of his reenactment of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

Along with three fellow adventurers, the author sets out to recreate Shackleton’s 1916 journey for survival in an open lifeboat, a journey of 700 miles at 60 degrees south latitude. This is followed by a 30-mile crossing of South Georgia over mountains and glaciers never before crossed by man.

The book that results, In Shackleton’s Wake, has much to recommend it. I learned more about Shackleton than I had ever known, and I went to school in Australia, a country where Shackleton was one of the heroes. When I finished reading, my first thoughts were: “What Shackleton did was extraordinary; what Fuchs did was interesting.”

That is not to take anything away from what Arved Fuchs and his companions did. In fact, the author may have underplayed the intensity of his experience. His goal was not to outdo Shackleton; it was to recreate the journey as closely as possible. By comparing his position and situation with Shackleton’s, he ties the two journeys together. At one point he stands at the top of the glacier where Shackleton deliberately slid down 2,000 feet into the unknown, and he doubts if he would have had the courage to make the same decision.

In making his comparison, Arved Fuchs creates a very readable tale. He goes so far as to question a number of the decisions made by Shackleton, and he backs those challenges with the authority of experience in the Antarctic.

This book’s a keeper. It is full of interesting facts and information, told in a very readable style. It’s worth the read if you just want to find out more about Sir Ernest Shackleton. For those who are interested in contemporary adventures, the journey of Fuchs and his companions will hold your attention.

For those with a technical interest in things sailing, there is an appendix covering details of the rig of the James Caird II, including formulas for working out the minimum diameters of masts and shrouds. And yes, Arved Fuchs answers his own question several different ways.

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The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 1995; 273 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Robert Hays, Wichita, Kan.
Good Old Boat, January 2002

This is a chronological story of the life of Donald Crowhurst. The authors give insights into the psychological growth followed by the decay of the man into lunacy. Donald grew up in a time of heroes and felt he was made of heroic fabric. He was a boy and then a man who needed to be in the center of activity, an instigator of ideas and adventures, flitting from idea to idea. His follow-up ability was lacking, however; the usual result being eventual failure, be it in the military, commercial enterprises, or his round-the-world race.

When Sir Francis Chichester returned from his round-the-world voyage, Donald was taken by the idea of his own triumphant trip. He pooh-poohed Chichester’s labors thinking he could do much better with the same boat, Gipsy Moth. Many different ploys were attempted to gain the use of the boat, but Chichester rebuffed all.

The Times newspaper came up with the idea of a singlehanded race around the world, and Donald decided to enter. He tried many tactics to gain sponsorship and acceptance into the race. Finally, he talked a business partner into backing him and found a shipyard that could build a trimaran to his specifications. At that time, trimarans were a new untried type, and much doubt was cast upon his selection. He came up with a novel “computer-assisted” stability device that was far ahead of its time.

The building of the boat was a last-minute affair with several untried modifications added during construction. When it was finally launched, the boat had poor windward performance. By the time he sailed to his starting point, he had only 16 days left to complete preparations. It was a frantic time, but Donald seemed to be only half-heartedly preparing for the journey of a lifetime. Many important items were left to chance, with the result that most were left behind.

Doubts were building in his head like cumulus clouds. Several times he tried to get his wife or business partner to tell him to forgo or postpone the race. He desperately wanted someone to take responsibility for his lack of preparedness. Shortly after the start of the race, his need for acceptance was such that he started sending false daily mileages. Eventually, his false position was many hundreds of miles ahead of his actual position. During that time, he started to reason with himself about the possibility of staying out of sight in the South Atlantic Ocean until it was time to start back for England.

He stayed out of radio contact for most of the time, blaming a leaking hatch that was modified for generator access. During this time in the South Atlantic, Donald started losing his grasp on reality as we see it, and started seeing his own reality, derived from reading Einstein’s Relativity and turning things into a mathematical realm. Finally, on the homeward leg, the seriousness of his situation apparently overwhelmed him, and he carefully laid out his logbooks and then stepped overboard. The boat was found adrift several days later. It was upon examination of the logs that the twisted journey through the seas and through his mind was uncovered.

This book is one that should be required reading for psychology classes. It shows the downward spiral into lunacy like a downwind reach with brief puffs of logic.

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If the Shoe Fits (The Adventures of a Reluctant Boatfrau)

by Rae Ellen Lee (Sheridan House, 2001; 224 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Frederick Street, Zimmerman, Minn.
Good Old Boat, January 2002

“I enjoy adventure and new experiences on a sailboat in the Caribbean.”

This mantra, or variations on it, are what keep the author going in this frank but funny recounting of a neophyte sailor’s exploration of the liveaboard dream. First-time author Rae Ellen Lee starts her tale in the mountains of rural Montana, where she and her new husband are living in an old bordello. Neither of them have any experience with sailing but get hooked on the idea of living on a sailboat while on a winter vacation to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Soon afterward, they try their hand at chartering a boat in the San Juan islands of Puget Sound, and within months they’ve sold their home and most of their possessions, moved to the Pacific Northwest, and purchased an Alberg 30 in need of some TLC. The bulk of the book documents various aspects of the author’s coming to terms with a completely new way of living.

This is not a Cinderella story of wishes fulfilled; the way to this new life is filled with unexpected snags at every turn. Rae Ellen has a hard time with the constant motion of the boat, and she hasn’t got a clue as to what all the ropes are for at the start. But the book is filled with her wry humor, such as her version of GPS, which she terms her “Grunt and Point System.”

With chapter titles such as, “I Only Cuss When I’m Sailing” and “To Be Rooted Is The Property of Vegetables,” the humor is somewhat reminiscent of Herb Payson’s dry, understated style. But it’s interspersed with honest discussions on the insecurities the author feels about her lifestyle change. Halfway through the book, I felt things were bogging down a bit with Rae Ellen’s philosophical musings; but then she came right back with a wonderful recounting of a Thanksgiving spent aboard. This event begins with the author trying to locate a turkey “less than seven inches high” to fit in the boat’s diminutive oven.

The biggest disappointment in the book may turn out to be a positive. Judging from the cover photograph (the smiling author standing on a heeling deck, gazing up at the sails of a vessel obviously in tropical waters), I expected the happy couple to make it to the Caribbean on the boat of their dreams. But the close of the book finds Rae Ellen still on Puget Sound, still wondering if her choice of lifestyle was the right one for her. One can only hope this is just the first leg of the voyage. As sailors are fond of saying, the voyage itself is at least as important as finally reaching your destination.

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The Northwest Passage on Ten Dollars a Day

by George Hone (Nighthawk Marine Ltd.; April 2001; 138 pages; $24.95 &endash; $34.95 in Canada)
Reviewed by John Allison, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
Good Old Boat, January 2002

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” This is a famous Helen Keller quote and also the “why” behind George Hone’s story of how he and two other men in a home-built boat, with no real sponsorship or support, became the fourth vessel to transit the Northwest Passage in a single season. The Northwest Passage is defined here as “a water route through the Arctic, north of the Canadian mainland, from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west.”

Beginning with the dreams of two dockmates, the author carries the reader through this entire adventure from concept to design and fabrication of Dove III (a steel-hulled, 27-foot sloop with a 4-foot draft) to launch in Nanaimo, British Columbia, through many adventures to a successful conclusion in Pagnirtung, on Baffin Island. Although the author’s description of ice conditions, villages visited, the landscape, and the seascape ar e revealing, they are not as vivid as I would have hoped for. Even though George Hone is obviously in awe of the harshness and variety of landscape, as well as the ice he encountered, I found it difficult, at best, to visualize what the crew must have seen and experienced. The artistic renderings are numerous and well done, but they are of such subjects as villages visited, the crew, and life on board, not the surroundings.

The Northwest Passage on Ten Dollars a Day would benefit from photographs or even more sketches of the ice flows, the tall cliffs of some areas and the barren bleakness of others. Hone’s book would also benefit from better editing. There are typographical errors and incomplete sentences.

Though interesting and informative, I found the book to be written in the style of a daily diary or ship’s log. There is such a story to tell here of excitement, of terror, and of tedium – the author truly hints at it all, but that is where it ends. The book reads like a cruising guide: it is not the type of book that you would stoke up the coals in the fireplace, sit back in your favorite easy chair, and open the cover to enjoy. If they were planning such an adventure, this might be a good book for the reference library. Otherwise, I would not recommend it to my fellow sailors.

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The Knot Handbook

by Maria Costantino (Sterling Publishing Co., 2000; 256 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Guy Wray, Plymouth, Minn.
Good Old Boat, January 2002

There are two types of knot people: those who use knots and those who hate to. I’ve been a user for 44 years because I’ve been sailing for 44 years. I’ve become very comfortable with the 25 or so knots, whippings, and splices I use on a regular basis. A book on knots has to be something special to get my attention.

Before reading The Knot Handbook, I decided it would have to meet certain criteria: 1. A clear understanding of where I can use the knot; 2. Easy-to-follow instructions; and 3. Ease of finding the knot instructions again (there are 118 knots in the book). Success in meeting these criteria would equal a useful book. You might not agree with my criteria, but as the reviewer I get to set the standards.

I was impressed with the book’s layout. Each knot is classified into one of the following categories: whipping and coiling, stopper knots, loops, binding knots, hitches, bends, and finally plaits, sennits, and lashings. Did I get a clear understanding of where I could use a knot? The answer is yes and no. Author Maria Costantino usually gives a clear description of at least one use. The full-color photo directions of how to tie the knot leave very little doubt as to the knot’s use. I suggest you read the introduction to each category. A clear indication of each knot’s use will be found in this section.

Are the instructions easy to follow? Yes. With just a few exceptions, directions for each knot are contained within the pages. This means you don’t need three hands to learn to tie a knot. Could I find the knot again easily? Yes – if I think in broad categories.

Was the book useful? Yes. Did I find a knot to add to my bag? Yes, actually a couple. Is it a book I would have on my boat? Yes. Actually I would have it just for the introduction, which contains very useful information on ropes. Should you have this book on your boat? That would depend on your current knot skills. If you use fewer than, say, 10 different knots, this book provides simple and easy instructions so you can easily increase your repertoire. I suggest you practice your chosen knots and learn to tie them in the dark. Murphy’s Law says that’s when you’ll need them most.

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Offshore Sailing: 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips

by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr (International Marine, 2002; 240 pages; $27.95.)
Reviewed by Steve Christensen, Midland, Mich.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

Part of the joy of sailing is messing about with our boats — all those little improvements that make sailing and living aboard easier, safer, and more fun. Having read a number of books containing hundreds of improvement tips, and just about everything written by the Dashews and Nigel Calder, I wasn’t really expecting to encounter anything I hadn’t seen when I opened Bill Seifert’s new collection of tips, Offshore Sailing: 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips. But I was wrong. By the time I finished I had Post-Its on a dozen pages and at least six new projects on my to-do list.

The emphasis of this book is on setting up a boat for offshore passagemaking. So while you won’t find advice on how to keep birds from pooping on your deck, you will learn interesting and effective ways to secure the deck and hatches. Like how to modify your dropboards to allow you to lock them while on deck or below (Tip #70). Or how to keep a jib sheet from getting wedged under the corner of the forward hatch by installing toilet bumpers on the hatch-frame corners (Tip #10 in the book and #3 on my to-do list). Or that cockpit speakers should be mounted inside Beckson deck plates so you can install the plates and seal the holes during foul weather. If you have hatches with reversible hinges, did you realize the easily removable hinge pins could be an invitation to thieves? Replacing the hatch pins with bicycle locks solves the problem (Tip #21).

In the chapter on rigs and sails there is a description of how to rig a flag halyard so you can hoist a radar reflector without having the side of the reflector chafe on the halyard (Tip #54). If your boom has tack hooks for mainsail reefing you will be interested in Tip #51, where Bill shows how to keep the hooks from snagging on the sail by covering the hooks with a loop of fuel line hose (also on my to-do list).

How many sailors have dutifully tied a softwood plug near each through-hull in case a fitting fails? The idea behind this is that the softwood plug will swell when wet, and provide a watertight seal after driven home. But if you store the plug near the fitting, where it will probably get wet, it can swell before being used. Better to store the plugs in a watertight bag (Tip #151). And finally, as every reader of Good Old Boat already knows, the way to secure the toilet seat and keep it firmly in place when used while underway is to screw chocks into the underside of the seat (Tip #79 and Good Old Boat, January 2001).

There are also chapters on boat design, safety gear, and suggested spare parts – all of which are good, but perhaps not as original as many of the tips, which are the real gems of the book. It will be a rare skipper indeed who doesn’t come away from reading Offshore Sailing with a few new items for his own to-do list.

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The Steel Hull

by Roger McAfee (Nighthawk Marine Ltd., Vancouver B.C., Canada, 2001; 148 pages; $29.95, U.S., $34.95 CDN.)
Reviewed by Lynn King, Vancouver, Wash.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

“Do you really want to build that first metal boat . . . or buy a used one and repair it?”

Roger McAfee gives the would-be first-time owner, boatbuilder, or repairer of a metal boat an insight into the project in store. This is not an overly detailed “how-to book,” although certain aspects of metal boatbuilding and repair are covered. Rather, it is introductory in nature, meant for the would-be builder or repairer.

The author starts with a metal analysis of steel, aluminum, and copper-nickel. Next he asks the reader to consider whether this is a “family project” and discusses important considerations regarding the vast scope of a boatbuilding or repair project. He also discusses tools and equipment for the project and the relative costs of new and used tools, giving the first-timer a guideline for acquiring the minimum equipment necessary.

One chapter should cause first-timers to consider attending a welding/burning training course before beginning their projects. Another assists with the choice of which project to pursue. It acquaints the reader with cutting open the steel hull and patching it. Roger stresses getting a thorough survey of the steel hull and discusses methods of determining metal thickness. He goes on to patching holes in the hull and the different techniques for doing so.

One marine designer’s steel boat design is included to give the prospective builder a feel for the planning and building of a steel-hulled vessel. This is only one of many other sources of designs available.

After all this, Roger zeroes in on financial considerations. He suggests that comparative costs must be made to determine how best to approach a boatbuilding or restoring project. As he points out, “Research can result in substantial savings, not only in building a boat, but also in fitting out.” He lists some books and sources to be pursued by the interested metal-boat enthusiast and reader.

The Steel Hull qualifies as a worthwhile, easy-to-read introduction to metal boatbuilding and repair. It aids and directs the first-timer in the quest for a metal boat to go cruising in. “To build from scratch . . . or buy and repair?” That is the question that author Roger McAfee asks – and helps the reader answer for himself.

Reviewer Lynn King is president of the Metal Boat Society, <>.

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Navigation Rules International-Inland

(Paradise Cay Publications, 2001; 216 pages; $10.95)
Reviewed by Merrill Hall, Yarmouth, Maine.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

Everyone talks about the rules, but nobody does anything about them. If you’re about to head to sea and you haven’t memorized all the rules, lights, sound signals, and dayshapes, you may be in for some exciting times. As our coastal waters get more crowded, relying on pure luck may not be in your best interests.

I reviewed Navigation Rules-Rules of the Road for Inland and International Waters (Paradise Cay Publications, 2000) for the March 2001 issue of Good Old Boat and was not favorably impressed with its lack of illustrations and the manner in which the International and Inland rules were separated. I compared it to the USCG Navigation Rules International-Inland and found the Coast Guard version to be a more useable book while costing only a few dollars more.

This new edition from Paradise Cay Publications is a major improvement. It’s an exact copy of the entire USCG book with all illustrations and includes all corrections presented in Notice to Mariners up through July 19, 2001. The color illustrations are slightly less vivid but not to the extent to cause confusion. The publishers have also added a few features that readers may find valuable.

The ideal rules-of-the-road book should serve equally well for study and quick reference. In addition, if your boat is 12 meters (39 feet) LOA or greater, an updated current copy of The Rules must be kept on board to meet the Inland Rules requirement. But how do you keep it current? No problem here. On the preface page, Paradise Cay has added detailed instructions on how to log on to the NIMA Web site and how to find the information to keep The Rules up to date. I checked the directions, and they work perfectly.

Paradise Cay’s annotated table of contents is substituted for the USCG contents and most readers are likely to find it easier to locate specific rules. I personally like the notation for Rule 17(b) that reads, “In extremis cause for maneuver.” I didn’t know that most boat skippers are conversant in Latin. Unfortunately, the notation for Rule 18 (Responsibilities Between Vessels) refers to “pecking order.” Having had a flock of chickens, I know that responsibility between vessels has nothing to do with the big pecking the small. It’s a function of which vessel has more options to maneuver in avoiding a collision. Aside from those few minor things, the annotated contents may be a valuable timesaver for most readers.

This new edition is all that is needed for study and quick reference and, when regularly updated, should serve for many years to lessen the occurrence of certain exciting events.

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Nautical Almanac 2002 Commercial Edition

(Paradise Cay Publications, 2001; $22.50)
Reviewed by Merrill Hall, Yarmouth, Maine.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

This is the yearly presentation of data used for astronomical navigation at sea. Except for 27 pages of ads, it contains the same data and format as the edition produced by Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office (UK) and the Nautical Almanac Office of The U.S. Naval Observatory. The inclusion of advertising results in a cost savings of approximately $10 when compared with the U.S. government edition.

I reviewed Paradise Cay’s Nautical Almanac 2001 Commercial Edition for the March 2001 issue of Good Old Boat and found that poor printing quality had obscured certain critical data. This new edition has a marked improvement in print quality, with all data readable, and is quite acceptable for serious celestial navigation.

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Make Your Own Courtesy and Signal Flags: Instructions, Patterns,
and Flag Facts for 28 Caribbean Courtesy Flags
and 40 International Signal Flags

by Bonnie Ladell and Matthew Grant (Sailrite Enterprises, Inc. 800-348-2769; 2001; 64 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Theresa Fort, Titusville, Fla.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

Are you a sew-it-yourself boater considering a cruise through the Caribbean? Or have you always wanted a complete set of international signal flags but haven’t the money to buy them or the energy and time to create your own patterns? Making your own courtesy and signal flags can be a challenging but rewarding part of the cruising lifestyle. Calculating the correct size and shape of each flag, copying and enlarging the sometimes quite complicated designs, and finding the easiest way to sew all those colorful pieces together to create a correct and usable flag can give the creator a great sense of accomplishment and . . . a huge headache.

When it comes to Caribbean courtesy flags and international signal flags, Bonnie Ladell and Matt Grant are your next pain relievers. They have just written a simple and concise book with all the patterns and designs needed to create 28 Caribbean courtesy flags as well as a complete set of 40 international signal flags.

The first section of the book, written by Bonnie Ladell, is focused on the making and flying of courtesy flags. It includes complete instructions and patterns for making each Caribbean country’s courtesy flag as well as information on what the colors and designs of each flag mean to their countrymen. She has included important information on displaying the Q flag correctly when checking into a foreign port as well as information on how to fly courtesy flags. Color pictures of each country’s flag are provided as a helpful guide to correctly positioning the designs and using the correct colors. Though the designs and pictures used in this part of the book could be clearer and of better quality, the information and instructions provided appear to be accurate and easy to follow.

The second section, by Sailrite’s Matt Grant, includes a complete and efficient layout of each required color and the size and shape of each pattern piece for a complete set of international signal flags. General instructions and tips on sewing theset of flags guide you through your work. Along with the helpful color pictures of each flag, an explanation of the meaning of each flag, both internationally and when used in yacht racing, is included. You will also find information on how to fly these flags using wooden toggles.

At times, I would have chosen different construction techniques. In some instances, I would rather use a one-pattern piece with a zigzag stitch around the edges, and cut the back side away to allow the correct color to show on both sides rather than sew a pattern piece to both sides. Or, by taking a more quilting type of approach, I find it easier to sew strips of colors together, cut those strips to the proper size, and sew them to attain the proper patchwork design instead of appliquéing one color onto another (and having to do this on both sides) as in the checkered “N” signal flag.

Still, Bonnie and Matt have come up with easy-to-follow instructions, plus measurements and patterns to use that will greatly reduce the workload for the sew-it-yourself boater heading to the Caribbean. And, the spiral binding allows the book to lie flat while tracing the designs and following the instructions. Now that’s pain relief!

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Boat-Building and Boating

by D. C. Beard reprint of 1911 edition (Dixon-Price Publishing, 2001; 186 pages; $15.99)
Reviewed by Merrill Hall, Yarmouth, Maine
Good Old Boat, March 2002

Don’t you ever go out in that thing again!” So screeched my mother that spring day in 1949 when I first paddled my recently constructed “umbrella canoe” and returned soaked and sniffing. My grandfather had shown me the book months before and construction soon began. Boat-Building and Boating filled this 12-year-old with dreams of adventures that any boy of my age and talents could make reality.

First published in 1911, this is a collection of boat designs with building instructions that require only the most basic tools and skills. The book begins with a log raft and ends with the Jackson Glider, “a cheap and speedy motor-boat.” The designs are simple and not very detailed, but enough information is given to get started, with the reality that one would have to “wing it” once construction was under way.

In my opinion, the author was a writer and not a boatbuilder. This is indicated by his caulking instructions; “The bottom boards are to be so planed that they leave V-shaped grooves on the inside of the boat to be filled with candlewick and putty.” This method has been unacceptable since the first carvel-planked boat, so constructed, sank without a trace. But aside from some technical difficulties, there is much good reading here.

Along with the section on building a birch-bark canoe, most readers will probably favor the landlubber’s chapter. It has much information for the novice, including nautical terms and how to sail adding some useful instructions for making boating togs, from “winter woolen underclothes” – truly a 1911 fashion statement. Unfortunately, the illustrations are not well reproduced and have lost much of their original clarity. Dixon-Price Publishing should have spent their energies on upgrading the artwork instead of editing “spelling and punctuation to reflect modern usage.”

This reprint of Boat-Building and Boating is not a good choice for practical use today and should not be compared with modern boatbuilding books. Its value lies not in its detail, but in its overall scope and content, as viewed almost 100 years since its first printing. We see here the birth of boating at its most affordable level and a look at life in the early 1900s when, without television and video games, young people were helped to realize their dreams of outdoor adventure.

My umbrella boat disassembled itself while frog hunting that summer in 1949 and its stringers were converted to clothes poles. Mother was delighted.

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Boat Logic, a nautical music CD

by Bruce Myers (BRM Records, 2002; $14.99; <> 410-477-5289)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, March 2002

What could be more illogical than a love of boats, of sailing, and of the sea? No one knows this better than Bruce Myers, a Chesapeake Bay sailor and the owner of a 1978 Cal 2-27, named Getting There. Bruce’s songs about these issues express the sailor’s dilemma as well as any I’ve heard. To this he adds the ultimate illogical act: the not-for-profit life of a nautical balladeer. He admits to all these weaknesses but, like any addict, he is powerless to cease doing what he loves. And so Bruce continues to thrill his listeners with his songs of the sea – and we’re so glad.

Boat Logic is the second expression of Bruce’s need to be near the water and on boats. The first, Stinkpot & Rags, was produced in 1997 and is also available for $12 as a CD and $10 as a cassette.

What’s boat logic? Bruce’s songs tell you it’s the dream to get a boat, sell everything, and head off for the tropics . . . it’s the need to have a boat just six feet bigger than the current one . . . the longing to go out of sight of land. In Bruce’s case it’s also the need to keep on singing, even if there doesn’t seem to be any future in it. (Although – perhaps in Bruce’s case because he’s quite good at what he does – there is a future in it. If that’s the case, then perhaps there is a logic in these illogical boaters’ dreams and desires.)

I have a favorite song on each of Bruce’s CDs. Well, a couple of favorites actually. Before the creation of Good Old Boat magazine, Bruce identified something about good old boats that strikes a chord with me. It should be the Good Old Boat theme song, in fact. Called “Old Boats,” this song states: “Old boats have character, New boats do not. Old boats have stories in them; Old boats should not be forgot.” Those words on his first CD won my loyalty.

His title song on the new release makes you (even against your will) sway with the calypso beat: “He’s got that gleam in his eyes and he can’t look away; It’s not the first time he’s fallen so hard in just days . . . ” Think he’s found a woman? Think twice. This is about another kind of “boat-hook.” The ode to his boating mentor, Captain Dan, a skipjack skipper, is beautiful, too.

Bruce’s style ranges from the soft tropical calypso to rock and everything in between. A word of warning: Bruce can get you to do anything . . . even buy a goat (yes, goat). Get the CD; you’ll soon agree with me.

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Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit

by Jesse Martin (Allen & Unwin, 2002; 270 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Zoltan Gyurko, Brookings, Ore.
Good Old Boat, May 2002

On October 31, 1999, Australian teenager Jesse Martin became the youngest sailor ever to voyage solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world. With simple language and meticulous detail, Jesse’s memoir tells the story of his gripping journey, 328 days aboard Lionheart, his Sparkman & Stephens 34-foot fiberglass sloop.

His 253-page autobiography begins with his restless childhood, explicitly describing adventures with nontraditional parents and the experiences that forged his desire to sail around the world. One-third into the book, among much media fanfare and heavy corporate sponsorship, Jesse begins his voyage from Melbourne. He is 17 years old and, according to many Australians, lacking the proper experience to tackle a circumnavigation that twice will encounter the notorious Roaring Forties. But Jesse is not swayed from his goal of finishing his adventure. Within the first three months he overcomes knockdowns, near collisions with freighters, serious equipment failures, and utter loneliness.

Midway through his trip he detours from the deep southern latitudes to round the Azores, a route taken to properly make an antipodal circumnavigation. In this chapter the reader will likely feel pangs of emotion as his “mum” and brother, aboard a fishing boat, meet face to face with Jessie for the first time in five months. But Jesse, no matter how desperately he wants to, cannot embrace them, leave his boat, or even accept a candy bar. In order to remain true to the record book rules, Jesse can only look and talk with them from a distance.

After the Azores, Jesse heads back toward the Roaring Forties, describing the dreariness of slogging through the hot equatorial doldrums. From here he only has to round the Cape of Good Hope and head on the final stretch to Melbourne. But the next three months will bring a Force 10 storm, a power failure, frigid weather, and a dangerously close call with falling overboard. But some of the most serious challenges, as Jesse often complains in his book, were not the physical aspects of the trip, but the tiring mental demands, such as not seeing other humans for months at a time.

Jesse believes the human spirit can overcome any odds. And through his anguish and isolation, even at the most desperate times, he shows by example how this is true. Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit leads us on a fantastic journey through the eyes of a down-to-earth and articulate teenager who loves adventure and wants to sail around the world. By doing so, Jesse sails into record books and our hearts, leaving us sharply aware of the passion and strength of the human spirit.

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Treasured Islands: Cruising the South Seas with Robert Louis Stevenson

by Lowell D. Holmes (Sheridan House, Inc., 2001; 281 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Corky Rosan, Buffalo, N.Y.
Good Old Boat, May 2002

The wise owl, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the pussycat, his wife (manipulative and ever-seasick Fanny), took some money — he had a bundle — and sailed the pea-green Pacific amidst gilt splendor and crimson plush on the black-hulled schooner, Casco. The yacht’s 340-pound designer, owner, and physician said the trip helped him lose 60 pounds, a dubious benefit for the sickly, tall, 98-pound author of Treasure Island and A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Casco’s captain was arrogant Otis, suspected of murdering his own uncle to obtain both the uncle’s widow and a share of his boat. Otis ridiculed Robert Lewis Stevenson (he preferred to be known as RLS) as a lubberly ignoramus. Also aboard: Fanny’s son, Lloyd, a lifetime fop destined to die a millionaire; RLS’s mom, Maggie, the only voyager immune to seasickness; the family’s sexy French maid, Valentine; their Chinese cook who claimed to be Japanese and called himself Antone; and four argumentative crewmembers, all unfit to navigate.

Having met the family, imagine sailboat decks rolling in Pacific seaways, their gone-native Bohemian cargo breathing the intoxicating perfumes of Nuka Hiva, Faka Rava, Tahiti, Manihiki, Noumea, Samoa, and other landfalls. Casco could cover 250 sea miles in 24 hours.

Son and grandson of Scottish engineers and lighthouse keepers, RLS was cursed from infancy with the lung disease that killed him. He found relief in the Pacific’s balmy island climate. He spent years wandering, established an enormous mansion, and had to work hard to pay for his lifestyle; he wrote 700,000 words in his last four years.

Fanny was a lifelong artist; RLS was an insatiable amateur anthropologist with professional yearnings. His notes detail dress, behavior, social mores, and history. He exchanges gifts, studies indigenous pride, admires the cultures, shoots the surf, endures gales, and searches for new harbors. And as he coughs his life away, he writes gloriously.

The biography’s author, a seasoned sailor himself, who has degrees in literature and anthropology, is a Stevensonian expert who has visited Samoa four times. His fascinating book is an authoritative interlude with an immortal author, his voyages, thoughts, and relationships, the islands he loved, and the three ships that shaped his life. Conveniently, it’s also a compact volume that fits any boat shelf.

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Tales of a Sea Gypsy

by Ray Jason (Paradise Cay Publications, 2001; 170 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Bill Kelly, Hudson, Wis.
Good Old Boat, May 2002

Why do you like to sail? Why do people go to sea, quit their jobs, sell their homes, homeschool (boatschool) their children? We all have responses to these questions . . . but going to sea for the “yarns?” That’s right: the “yarns.”

Ray Jason left San Francisco in 1985 to become a sea gypsy so he could hear and share the tales of the sea. Landlubbers, he felt, just don’t talk anymore; all we seem to discuss is what we see on television or read in the newspaper.

Since sailors don’t have television or newspapers, they tell tales of their adventures, experiences, and the excitement of the sea. Ray has been sharing the sailors’ stories he has heard in his travels with the readers of Latitude 38 and Cruising World for the past 15 years.

This sea gypsy was president of his college’s student body, editor of the newspaper, captain of the debate team, and a Rhodes Scholar-to-be, but he was drafted for the Vietnam War. Serving in the war changed his life; he was no longer interested in pursuing a professional career, becoming a street juggler in San Francisco instead. He was so popular the mayor of San Francisco proclaimed Ray Jason Day. Because most of us have never had the opportunity to catch the sea gypsy’s act, Paradise Cay Publications has published a couple dozen of Ray’s favorite stories in this book. He includes a few tales at his own expense as he travels singlehanded (most of the time) around the globe in his Farallon 29.

There’s the Mellow Mariner, better known as Max, who found serenity on the Isla Gitana in Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya. Have you ever had the experience of driving a bumper car at the state fair? If so, you can relate to how the sea gypsy felt as he was trying to navigate the Panama Canal. Then there’s the yarn about the sailor, dressed in a banana-yellow Speedo swimsuit and life jacket, who borrowed a Punta Burica farmer’s donkey to retrieve his dinghy.

What would an anthology of sea stories be without animals? There’s the cat named Running Lights who liked to catch flying fish but didn’t really know how to handle the squid on the deck . . . and the story of the Hurricane and the Poodle. Finally, how does one use a favorite banana-pancake recipe to find out if fellow travelers’ tall tales are true? These are just a small sampling of the many tales that Ray shares with his readers in his new book.

So imagine yourself at Club Med, where the stage manager says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the teller of tales, the juggler extraordinaire, Sea Gypsy Ray Jason!” After a tale or two you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. As the men’s suit salesman on television says, “I’ll guarantee it.”

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Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us, Finding Your Way by Eye and Electronics, Second Edition

by Captain Bill Brogdon (International Marine, 2001; 220 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Doug Dreyer, Falls Church, Va.
Good Old Boat, May 2002

Captain Bill Brogdon intended that Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us, Finding Your Way by Eye and Electronics teach us how to safely navigate our boats without having navigation become a chore that takes the fun out of boating. He has succeeded; and in doing so has provided a great service to boaters. We are no longer anchored by thick reference books, such as Bowditch, or chained to our navigation table (if there is one) plotting fixes or DRs every 30 minutes. He has captured the essence of how to navigate our boats safely in simple,concise words aided by well-illustrated figures. This is a book for ex perienced boaters and novices; both can learn from the captain.

The book is full of useful navigation tricks and tools, such as how to use your fingers to measure angles and what those angles mean. He describes how to use your eyes to keep your boat in safe waters and easy ways to do some calculations in your head. Sections that cover the use of electronic navigation systems, Loran-C, GPS, and radar are presented in a complete, well-balanced way without being bogged down in unnecessary detail. The author teaches us how to use these electronic tools, with tricks to make navigation a joy rather than a burden, and he helps ensure that we do not follow these tools blindly onto the rocks.

There are some flaws. The excellent figures are not always referred to in the text. I would read past a section associated with a figure before noticing it. I also found the short, but comprehensive, section on compass deviation a bit confusing. This may be because I learned how to navigate using the mnemonics, “True Virgins Make Dull Companions, Add Whiskey” (going from True to Variation, Magnetic, Deviation, Compass, Add West corrections) and “Can Dead Men Vote Twice At Elections” (going from Compass to Deviation, Magnetic, Variation, True, Add East corrections).

I was hooked by the first sentence: “Navigation is the art and science of finding where we are and of finding our way safely to our destination.” This was something I have felt in my stomach (no, I was not seasick at the time). I had similar feelings throughout the book and read each sentence as if it were engraved on stone tablets. The author put into words the things I have been unable to explain to my wife, a novice sailor. She will be the next reader of this book if I can keep it from being borrowed by other boating friends. It is comprehensive but small and light enough to keep as a reference on my boat, and that is where it will be.

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A Guide to Columbia Sailboats

CD-ROM by Pat and Paul Esterle (distributed by Cap’n Pauley Videos; $9.95)
Reviewed by Ben Hocker, Minnetonka, Minn.
Good Old Boat, May 2002

As the owner of a 32-foot 1979 Columbia 9.6, I was interested in viewing this CD-ROM . It is authored by Pat and Paul Esterle, owners of the 35-foot Columbia 10.7, Bryn Awel, one of the last generation of Columbia yachts.

The CD is stated to be “a compilation of most of the currently known information about Columbia sailing yachts” and covers 41 models. Six others are listed as “lost models” for which no information is available. Also included is a list of additional resources for Columbia information.

The information included for each model varies considerably in quantity and quality. This is not surprising, since these boats are virtually all more than 20 years old, and only small numbers of some models are in existence. For most models, there are specifications, often copies of the original advertising brochures and a layout drawing, sometimes a boat review, and a history of the boat’s production run. Credit for much of this basic information is given to the Columbia Yacht Owners’ Association website maintained by Eric White. In addition, there are recent photos of most of these boats, many apparently supplied by individual owners and others from yacht brokers’ listings.

While the CD did not start automatically on my sometimes-cantankerous PC, it was easily started manually following the instructions on the package insert. It was straightforward to jump from the table of contents to a specific model, and to change pages with the arrow keys. The presentation has a habit of automatically advancing to the next page, sometimes annoyingly before the viewer is ready, but one can manually return to the previous slide.

While the audience may be a specialized one of Columbia owners and others with a particular interest in that manufacturer, this CD-ROM compiles a large amount of information in a single, compact source. At only $9.95, it’s a bargain.

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We, the Navigators

by David Lewis (University Press of Hawaii, 1972; 346 pages; $25.95
from the Good Old Bookshelf.)
Historical book review by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif. (This is something new. Watch for further historical reviews by Will)
Good Old Boat, May 2002

Popular histories such as Dava Sobel’s Longitude illustrate the drama of Europe’s ascendancy in the Age of Discovery. Governments sponsored inventions and universities, new measurement tools were developed and commercialized, captains edged farther from the familiar coasts, ships deviated from the square rigs and trade winds, charts were drawn, and pilot books were written. European exploration epitomized the Renaissance: man finding his place on earth through science.

But 180 degrees around the world, as David Lewis tells us in his extraordinary classic, We, the Navigators, Pacific Islanders routinely made, until late in the 20th century, lengthy open-sea voyages guided only by sagacious elders using comprehensive, completely non-Western navigation systems. Without compasses, charts, sextants, or chronometers, they sailed throughout the South Pacific on all tacks in highly evolved canoes and catamarans. They navigated by following complex star path sequences through the course of a night, steered using seasonal winds as a form of compass, piloted according to wind-wave and ocean-swell patterns, and calculated positions and distance traveled from ranges formed by celestial bodies and islands.

Many European observers believed the “benighted” islanders hugged the coasts or were occasionally “blown off course” and thus populated the South Pacific. In 1968, the author set out to correct these misconceptions and to document the achievements of the disappearing traditional navigators. Sailing 13,000 miles in the South Pacific with different navigators in their own boats and in his 39-foot ketch, he chronicles the specifics of many passages in a variety of conditions. With rare exception, the Pacific navigators read the signals given to them by nature and guided their vessels to precise landfalls hundreds of miles away.

His passage logs are at times tediously detailed, and he clinically refers to “field investigations” conducted during a Cape Horn passage and an instrumentless voyage of 2,239 nautical miles accompanied only by a navigator, his wife, and two daughters, aged 3 and 4. However, the reader is rewarded with understanding of, and admiration for, the astonishing art and science of the Pacific navigators.

They developed their own form of what today’s Western boater might call “local knowledge,” but it was applied on a grand scale across vast stretches of ocean by an elite few. The methods they used were so advanced they seemed almost mystical to outsiders. That these methods would disappear with European colonization is testament to their complexity and ultimate fragility in the face of more accessible and repeatable navigation methods based on tools and documentation.

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Boat Maintenance: The Essential Guide to Cleaning, Painting, and Cosmetics

by William Burr Jr. (International Marine, 2000; 170 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, July 2002

Bill Burr bought a 14-year-old boat, moved aboard, and set about making it “like new.” His projects were not so much of the power tool, Sawsall, and mechanical variety, however. He didn’t rip out the toilet, replace the cabin liner, install a new engine, or rebed the stanchions. Instead, he cleaned them.

In the process, Bill learned what works and wrote a book telling others how to make a boat sparkle: every square inch of fiberglass, wood, and fabric, and all the metal, plastic, vinyl, rubber, and line. And while he’s at it Bill gives the reader a short course in coatings, sealants, and adhesives.

He couldn’t resist. Bill retired from a career in the chemical industry, so he is able to explain what every sailor needs to know about the chemistry of available cleaning products. One particularly helpful section ranks cleaning products on a scale from acid to alkaline and tells how to choose what’s right for the job. An enlightening appendix discusses the main chemical ingredients in brand-name products. He read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) so the reader doesn’t have to. Bill does not believe you need a boat full of half-empty bottles, however, and is happy to recommend ordinary household products such as lemons and baking soda.

He breaks up the maintenance of fiberglass, wood, and metal into a process of first cleaning the surface; second, preparing it (by polishing or sanding); and third, protecting it from chemical or physical damage (using waxes, paints, varnishes, or other coatings).

This is important, he tells readers, because “A piece of equipment that has been kept clean and maintained according to the manufacturer’s directions will seldom fail . . . A boat is made up of thousands of parts that must always work. Safety is no accident; it must be earned.”

This book is well organized to help sailors keep their boats shipshape no matter how they go about a project. It offers maintenance schedules, tasks by section of the boat and type of job, as well as an index of brand-name products and an overview of their components.

What does a book like this do for those of us who own and love older sailboats? The author states it eloquently: “Has any other inanimate object created so many dreams of adventure? Boats have been called aphrodisiacs and vehicles to another life. When the wind and sun are perfect, when beauty, grace, and escapism combine, it is still efficiency, skill, prudence, and care that make everything work . . . laying hands on every inch of a boat’s woodwork, fiberglass, and metal is the best way to know it, the way to keep it young and beautiful. In the end, Boat Maintenance is about prolonging the romance between you and your boat.”

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Wreck and Resurrection, How I Made $60,000 Repairing My Sailboat

by David Harris (Tortuga Books, 2000, 191 pages, $14.95)
Reviewed by Tom McMaster, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, July 2002

In September of 1998, Hurricane Georges roared through the Caribbean Sea and continued on a course that would take it through the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. When it became evident that Georges would score a direct hit on the Florida Keys, author David Harris prepared to evacuate. Wreck and Resurrection is his account of securing his belongings, including his 32-foot catamaran, Top Cat.

Georges arrived, hitting Key West on September 25, 1998. David began having second thoughts about whether Top Cat would survive in the poor holding grounds of the Keys. His premonitions were entirely accurate. Upon returning home, he found out what 110-mph winds and an 8-foot storm surge will do to low-lying areas such as the Keys. Trees and power lines were down, some homes were missing roofs, and the surge had done considerable damage. Top Cat was missing, no longer floating where he had seen her last.

The author found his wrecked boat upside down miles from where he had attempted to secure her. The mast was broken, the hulls had gaping holes in them, personal belongings were scattered about, and everything inside was soaked.

His troubles were just beginning. The book takes us through dealings with insurance agents, brokers, claims adjusters, foreign underwriters, salvage companies, boatyards, and parts distributors. Getting his insurance claim paid was a monumental task, one that took dozens of letters, email messages, phone calls, and faxes. Nearly seven months after filing his claim, David received his settlement.

Early in this process he searched for a boat to buy with the insurance proceeds but couldn’t find a suitable replacement. After discussing these matters with his family, it was determined that Top Cat was part of their family and should be repaired. Sticker shock soon set in as he shopped around, getting estimates to do the repairs. When he couldn’t be sure the insurance money would be enough to get the job done, he decided to tackle the enormous job of repairing Top Cat himself. Resourcefulness and determination went a long way in helping David achieve success in bringing Top Cat back to life, her resurrection.

I came away from reading this book wondering more than just a little, who the book’s target audience was. It is obvious that no two salvageable wrecks would be the same, so the details of repairs made to Top Cat would not necessarily be helpful to anyone courageous enough to attempt what David did. Any layperson attempting to do repairs of this magnitude might find some useful information while reading this book, but in my opinion, that information lies in understanding what one is up against and the many pitfalls one must avoid to achieve favorable results. This isn’t provided in the detailed text of the many repairs done to this particular boat.

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The Boy, Me and The Cat

by Henry Plummer (Cat Boat Association, 2001; 191 pages; $29.95;
Review by Ginger Marshall Martus, Vincentown, N.J.
Good Old Boat, July 2002

Turn your imagination on and transport yourself to 1912. You’re aboard a 24-foot 6-inch Cape Cod Catboat, named Mascot, with one other person and a real cat, named Scotty, sailing from Massachusetts to Miami, Florida. This is a day-to-day log of an adventure in an era when few ventured far from their own snug harbors.

This saga is a most unusual round trip, the 1912-1913 voyage of Henry Plummer, from New Bedford, Mass.; his son, Henry Jr.; and their cat. They departed New Bedford October 10, 1912, and so began a log, written by Henry Sr. in his own style of quaint everyday language, which is both entertaining and witty, with some made-up nautical terms. Near New Brunswick, N.J., for example: “A wooly came over the high shore and things began doing at once” or “all day long we were knocked and smashed about by an indescribable jumble of crooked water.”

Along the way they encounter storms, gales, cold, snow, and ice before reaching the warmth of Florida, which Henry didn’t seem to care for – too many bugs. He tells about problems as well as the beauty of the day and the shore scenery. The trio went hard aground many times, and they were shipwrecked on a desolate area on the coast of North Carolina, where they patched and repaired the boat. It’s a wonder they reached Florida at all!

Henry apparently enjoyed cooking and goes into detail about what they ate along the way. How about coot stew, Bologna a La Mascot (recipe included), old squaw stew, or what he did with 25 pounds of green turtle meat? In the epilogue, Henry Jr. admits he was not a sailor at heart but for eight months and eight days, Mascot was home, and he did his best, even though Dad did not always think so. Poor Scotty had her ups and downs, too, mostly panic attacks, which finally did her in. They gave her a Viking funeral.

The book has original photographs from that long-ago era plus Henry’s own sketches and maps. I was intrigued with his observations about, and photos of, places I am familiar with today. A great read.

The first edition of this now classic story was self-published, mimeographed and handbound, in 1914 by the author in a limited edition of 700 copies which went to friends and subscribers. This edition received much publicity, many letters of praise, and requests for more copies. Then 50 years later it was privately re-published. Several years ago the Cat Boat Association acquired four albums of the author’s original photographs plus personal papers, letters, and newspaper clippings. With these additions, the association published “this much enhanced edition . . . to keep it alive for future generations.”

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From the Cockpit of the Rubaiyat

by Donald Rothschild (Archer Books, 2001; 175 pages; $15.00)
Reviewed by John McCann, Elkins Park, Pa.
Good Old Boat, July 2002

From the Cockpit of the Rubaiyat is a book that speaks to the amateur sailor in those of us for whom sailing is a passion beyond logic and yet who, in all likelihood, will never venture forth upon the world’s great oceans in a solo circumnavigation or crew in the America’s Cup.

In a collection of essays – part yarn, part memoir and sea tale – Donald Rothschild shares with us his experience of returning to sailing at age 50 after a long hiatus devoted to family and career. It is this love of the sea, of sailing, and the boats we sail in, that the author celebrates, whether piloting his spanking new Catalina 22 down the Potomac River, cruising the Chesapeake Bay in a restored Pearson 365, or exploring the waters off Newport on his beloved Rubaiyat, a classic Sam Crocker 1984 Stone Horse.

And like the poet Omar Khayyam, whose quatrains from The Rubaiyat introduce each chapter, Donald calls upon his readers to join him in the adventure of life, the joy of living it in the moment, preferably on the water, preferably on the boat of our choice.

While often humorous – the author has the good fortune to be able to laugh at himself when at times his sailing skills are less than expert – he can also be quite reflective, as when he reminds us that “sailing is not a contest of man against nature, but rather man’s concession to the necessity of being in harmony with nature and the universe.” And so we gladly follow along with him on his journey.

We applaud and delight in his sailor’s “logic,” a species of familiar reasoning whereby, having determined the Catalina 22 is too small for cruising the Chesapeake, he feels called upon to buy a larger boat. Nor are we unduly surprised when in time he comes to realize the Pearson 365 demands even bigger water, and so sells his home to move to Rhode Island and gives up his job to find another.

While I recommend this book as an honest and, at times, insightful look into one man’s sailing experience, it is a work primarily destined for the already converted. It both benefits and suffers from its very nature: the sea tales of an enthusiastic amateur sailor seeking to share with the reader the joys and tribulations, successes and miscues of a sailing life. And while Donald can be a fine spinner of yarns, he seems at times, to be straining for effect. He repeatedly reminds us how important his sailing life is to him, but often fails to make it come alive, to allow us to “feel” the people and places and boats that constitute the texture of his voyage. The book could benefit from a tighter, more organic inner structure and better editing. There are too many clichés, misspellings, grammatical errors, and too inordinate a use of adverbs for someone conversant with the magnificent Persian poetry of Omar Khayyam.

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Experiment in Survival: Across the Pacific with George Sigler

by George Sigler (Vero Technical Support, 2001; 198 pages; $12.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, July 2002

If George Sigler has just one regret it is that he didn’t publish his book, Experiment in Survival, sooner. The book details the Pacific crossing that he and a friend made in a Zodiac inflatable in 1974 to study survival conditions. The trip from Oakland, Calif., to the Hawaiian island of Oahu lasted from July 4 until August 28. The two men had solar distillation kits for producing water and hard candy for carbohydrates. Since they caught almost nothing to eat along the way and had negligible rainfall, they were forced to survive for 56 days with these supplies.

Why would two men go through an experiment of this sort on purpose? As a naval aviator and delivery pilot, George was familiar with survival kits and had been rescued at sea once after his plane was downed. He was extremely interested in the length of time an individual could last without basic necessities. His research led to the development of a survival kit, the SIG II, which is no longer on the market.

He also determined that life rafts that cannot be steered are missing the point. The craft must have the ability to travel in a given direction with a jury-rigged sail to propel it. EPIRBs and watermakers have improved since the early 1970s, but life rafts – in spite of becoming high-tech cocoons – have not. The inhabitants must rely on being heard or seen and rescued before they perish.

“I wrote this book because sailors still expose themselves to the dangers of crossing oceans in small boats,” George writes. “This book might give one person the knowledge that might one day save his life if he becomes a castaway.” Indeed it might. George focuses on supplies for a survival kit, what happens to the castaway physically and emotionally, and the boredom and discomfort of spending days at sea in wretched conditions with little strength or energy. Their raft, with a small tarp for a sail, covered 2,700 miles in 56 days, just over 48 nautical miles a day.

George includes a list of basic necessities for a survival kit and his rationale for departing from the traditional wisdom in cases where he chooses an alternate course (such as preferring to pack carbohydrates rather than protein). He also includes a simple and small navigational device which could help the castaway locate land.

This isn’t a book to read once you’re adrift in a life raft. It’s one to read in advance . . . one to take very seriously sometime soon.

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American Merchant Seaman’s Manual: For Seamen by Seamen; Fifth Edition

by Felix Cornell and Allan Hoffman, Eds. (Cornell Maritime Press, 1969; 833 pages)
Reviewed by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

(A historical book review. Many of the old books are simply too good to overlook)
Good Old Boat, July 2002

Your boating library may include Chapman’s for general rules and seamanship, Eric and Susan Hiscock for practical instruction, Don Casey for maintenance, Bowditch for navigation, maybe even Tristan Jones for some salty stories.

Consider tracking down a vintage copy of the interesting and helpful American Merchant Seaman’s Manual to supplement the contemporary resources. Produced for the deckhands of pre-containerization working vessels, the AMSM was intended to be “a manual that would contain under one cover all of the information necessary and of vital interest to seamen.” With valuable illustrations, diagrams, and glossaries, the AMSM offers thorough (and now unique) overviews on many topics of great interest to the low-tech, low-budget, short-handed community.

Moving your mainsheet, adding running stays to your rig, or designing a self-steering system? The short chapter on blocks and tackles illustrates the mechanical advantage gained from different combinations and how to reeve the tackle of choice. By understanding these formulas and diagrams, you may improve and simplify your solution.

Trying to quickly calculate your distance from shore, without leaving the cockpit of your small rocking boat? Apply the Bow and Beam Bearing, and you will need only your log and a landmark ashore. You won’t need to fuss with your GPS plot and your chart for this quick calculation, allowing you to focus on your danger bearing.

Not all of the book is relevant to today’s boater (unless you want to learn about steam windlasses, or how to thin the paints of yesteryear), but every chapter offers something. There is also much dated, but interesting, information, such as a comprehensive list of helmsman’s commands (“Right handsomely,” “Nothing to the left of”) and first aid for a ship full of men (the symptoms of delirium tremens: “Patient becomes wildly excited, waves his arms in meaningless gestures”).

A more recent sixth edition hardback may be available at your bookstore for about $45, but a used copy of an earlier edition will cost you only about $15. The American Merchant Seaman’s Manual will not replace Chapman’s and Casey, but it will supplement your library with detail on how to manage a boat with simple tools and skills that do not receive much attention in today’s marketplace. And you get some salty language and stories as a bonus.

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Into the Light

by Dave and Jaja Martin (Beowulf Press, 2002; 330 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Hugh Owens, Pocatello, Idaho
Good Old Boat, September 2002

Thirty-somethings Dave and Jaja Martin were in the midst of what they termed their “midlife cruising crisis.” They had already sailed around the world in a Cal 25, and Jaja had just given birth to their third child. Restless, they were looking for a new direction for their lives. They found it in a rough, 33-foot steel boat perched on jackstands in a weed-infested North Carolina boatyard in 1996.

Into the Light begins with the Martin family departing Bermuda in 1998 on what would become a two-year journey to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, and remote Spitzbergen, an island group in the Arctic Ocean pack ice only 600 miles from the North Pole. They departed with three children under the age of seven on a daring odyssey wintering over on their boat, Driver, in remote villages in Iceland and the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. They enrolled Chris and Holly in the local schools, forging close personal bonds in these Viking communities.

This book is much more than a sailing voyage into the high latitudes. It is first and foremost a study of the personal dynamics, growth, and development of an enchanting family on their voyage of discovery to untamed and unspoiled nature.

The Martins are not mainstream cruisers. They are unconventional in their choice of destinations and thoughtful in their approach to how they live their lives and raise their children. They take pains to explain why they relentlessly seek adventure while demonstrating how they responsibly manage the risks inherent in their radical choices through careful planning and skillful execution.

The use of flashbacks and witty dialogue enliven and delineate their distinctive character. Despite an emphasis on the psychological aspects of cruising, Into the Light has page-turning moments of dry-mouthed terror and danger, which test the courage and mettle of this young family.

The book could be improved by displaying the Martins’ fine photography, which can be seen in the Sailors’ Logs section of Steve Dashew’s superb cruising website at <>. Sadly, the pages of the text are entirely bereft of photographs. Only the dust jacket has a few tiny thumbnails. The few black-and-white silhouette maps at the end of the text are of poor quality, making reference cumbersome. Good-quality charts and photographs in the body of the text would improve readability.

The Martin family returned to Norway in the summer of 2002 to retrieve Driver, returning via Greenland. The story will continue to unfold for this inspiring, intrepid family.

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Red Sea Peril

by Shirley Billing (Sheridan House, 2002; 256 pages; $16.50)
Reviewed by Chris and Debbie McKesson, Bremerton, Wash.
Good Old Boat, September 2002

“It seemed a very long day confined to our room. Still no hot water. We couldn’t shower; it was too cold. We waited for someone to come and question us. Nobody did. Our imaginations ran riot. Why were they keeping us?”

Peter and Shirley Billing on board Clypeus, their Endurance 35, entered the Red Sea with excitement and trepidation. What would the marsas, the strong winds of the area, be like? Would they encounter dust storms, heavy shipping, pirates? They had been told to expect some of the clearest waters in the world with abundant corals, sea life, and lonely shores . . . a final taste of tropical seas before their return to the cooler waters of the north.

After fighting hot, strong headwinds off the coast of Eritrea, Clypeus and her crew anchored for some much-needed rest. “A million bright stars twinkled overhead. Hills of white sand and scrub stretched away to the south. The crescent of aquamarine bay was wonderfully quiet. Peace at last!” Shirley’s words on that quiet night stand in sharp contrast to the events of the next few weeks.

On March 19, 1996, on the 13th anniversary of their departure from St. Katharine’s dock, London, to sail around the world, Bill and Shirley were abducted from their yacht at gunpoint and taken ashore for questioning. Transported to Assab then flown under fake identities to Asmara, the Billings were subjected to 18 days of custody. Unable to leave their hotel, they relied on their yachting friends, family, and eventually the English press for their release. Although never formally accused, they understood they were considered to be spies and were being treated as such.

But Red Sea Peril is more than an account of the Billings’ capture and confinement. The tale of their ordeal is bracketed by other, happier reminiscences; from Thailand to Sri Lanka, Maldives to Oman. Wild elephants, monkeys, ancient ruins, and natives in flowing robes walk the pages of this fascinating look into the cultures of the East.

The Red Sea, the legendary “Gate of Tears,” stretches their courage and resourcefulness to unexpected limits. Red Sea Peril is a stirring account, passionate and truthful, of an experience few travelers would wish to find themselves involved in. It is certainly not the usual cruising story, and the cabin discussions it has provoked on our boat are very different from most. We enjoyed the book and don’t hesitate to recommend it to friends.

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Sailing: Impressions, Ideas, Deeds

by Frank Papy (Frank Papy Publisher, 2002; 151 pages; $12.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneaplis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, September 2002

Pull up a stool at a tiki bar and listen to Frank Papy spin a few yarns about his life and times in and around boats. If you can’t catch up with Frank in the Florida Keys, his latest book, Sailing: Impressions, Ideas, Deeds will be a close substitute. When you’ve finished the book you’ll feel like you know Frank Papy, author of Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys, charter skipper, delivery captain, longtime member of the Conch Republic (the Keys), and no doubt a skilled sailor.

In his book, Frank demonstrates his cheerful approach toward life, shares some philosophical musings, and adds a very useful tip or two. Like any conversation in a tiki bar, these are random events. But no matter. Frank didn’t set out to light up the sailing world with a new book. “Sporadic tales of sailing” is how he describes the book.

And so they are. One of his musings follows after he’s taken in the excesses of the Miami Boat Show. “We have come a long way in the 100 years since Joshua Slocum sailed around the world by himself in a 38-foot wooden boat with only a compass, paper charts, sextant, an old clock in one hand, and no engine. I wonder what he would say if he came back now and saw all this modern stuff, carbon-fiber masts, cellophane sails, glass hulls, winged keels, and especially electronic devices which tell us constantly where we are, not by thestars he used, but by our own stars we put up there ourselves. Electricity runs all of this, using stored energy from the sun. Autopilots are interfaced with GPS to tell us where to go. The autopilots are also connected to radar and depth indicators so we don’t even have to stop along the way . . . except to pick up some more rum.”

What tips might you take away from a book such as this? Applying RainX to goggles will help you see through those stinging wind-driven raindrops when you’ve got to be out in a storm. And if you don’t like the hood in your foulweather gear because when you turn your head the hood remains stationary and blocks your view, why not stitch clear panels in the sides of the hood?

An undercurrent throughout the book is the notion that you might as well experience and enjoy life as it is – appreciate the good that comes your way, and don’t let the rest of it trouble you. Living life to the fullest is all in the attitude, and Frank Papy’s got the right attitude. You can’t help but like a guy like this, so pull up a stool the next time Frank’s doing the talking at a tiki bar near you.

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The American Sailboat

by Gregory Jones (MBI Publishing Company, 2002; 168 pages; $34.95)
Reviewed by Art Hall, Pownal, Maine
Good Old Boat, September 2002

The American Sailboat takes us through a literary and pictorial history of American pleasure craft. As readers, we are given a whirlwind tour of our nation’s coasts, bays and inland waters.

Such a story has a tremendous amount of potential material to draw from. Perhaps the toughest choice author Greg Jones had to make was deciding just what to include. For that reason, I suppose it was only natural that I found myself wondering why some of my favorite classes weren’t included in the book. Certainly, most of us whose sailing is limited to our home waters have a limited appreciation for other regions and their local craft. The American Sailboat will broaden your horizons.

Sailors are dreamers, and dreamers love pictures of boats. No story such as this could be told without photographs. We are treated to previously published classics from the Rosenfeld collection and others from a variety of original sources. I would have enjoyed more detailed drawings. They, too, convey the story of a particular boat and provide the opportunity to study the designer’s creation in detail.

Greg elected to conclude this chronicle with boats produced in the 1970s. At the risk of offending some readers, I will concur that this was a good idea. Many of the designs produced in the last 20 years freely boast of a European influence. Perhaps the author and I are of a like mind and just can’t warm up to many of the recent offerings on the mass-produced American market.

It is clear from the outset and throughout the book that this is an overview rather than a highly detailed account. No particular class, region, or era has received an undue amount of attention. There is just enough information discussed about a particular boat, club, or manufacturer to whet your appetite and seek more information from other sources.

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Bad Girl Dead

by George Snyder (Xlibris Corp., 2001; 335 pages; $20.00)
Reviewed by Daryl Clark, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat, September 2002

It was a long winter and an even longer spring, here in the land of Ventura . . . Minnesota, that is! Spring departed, mosquitoes arrived, and we stopped dreaming about sailing. First we wore out the pages between the covers of each and every Good Old Boat magazine. By then we had tired of articles on the latest boating gear.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough money in the kitty to join those suffering with the cruising lifestyle – at least not yet! So I read books. But I’m not looking for just any book. I want one I’ll find difficult to put down . . . a book to curl up with and let my mind paint its own pictureof adventure.

Recently, just such a book arrived, one that fit the bill. It came along in a svelte little package with a catchy title: Bad Girl Dead. This is the author’s first in a series of “Baylor Rumble mystery thriller novels.” And what an adventure it is! A roller coaster ride of uncommon sailing adventure replete with romance, murder, intrigue, and some of the most bizarre characters this side of Afghanistan. Our hero and main character is one Baylor Rumble, a true gentle sailing spirit, who is biding his time on the West Coast while trying to put together the makings of a cruising kitty.

But before he can depart, the lives of desperate and, believe me, fiendish characters block his escape from the confines of Newport Beach Marina. Author George Snyder paints these characters with a quixotic brush. He describes a world that Baylor would rather not be a part of, but can’t control . . . one in which it will take all his cunning to survive.

Be prepared to spend some time with this one, as you may be hard pressed to put it down. One word of caution: if you are weak of stomach, please do not attempt to read just before bedtime – your stomach will more than likely churn with every thrilling chapter as Baylor makes his way through “murder, mayhem, and marauding women” – until, with luck, he “solves this caper.”

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Wind and Tide in Yacht Racing

by Harold Augustin Calahan and John B. Trevor (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1936; 145 pages)
Reviewed by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.
Good Old Boat, September 2002

How much time will you sacrifice by sailing at a more comfortable angle to the wind? Why does that gust of wind “come from the side” when you thought you were close-hauled? Would you like to know more about the principles of sail shape without getting too technical? Wind and Tide in Yacht Racing, a vintage racing text claiming to be the first scientific explanation of apparent wind and wind shifts, can help you understand and visualize these factors.

Parallelograms illustrate the differences in angle and velocity of true and apparent wind. Plotting tools help you determine true distance from an upwind destination and analyze trade-offs between increased speed and increased distance for different sailing angles. A photograph of a square-rigged tall ship with topsails trimmed further aft illustrates apparent vs. true wind better than any text or parallelogram. Wind and Tide’s detailed discussion of apparent wind and sailing angles is not found in today’s general sailing manuals.

This book’s discussion of currents, a topic covered thoroughly in today’s coastal navigation texts, still contains some unique gems. For example, an adverse current can actually improve your ability to point upwind, as long as you can sail faster than the current. And the “lee-bow” method of using a current to push you to windward could occupy the tinkering pilot for many afternoons.

The book has some shortcomings as a manual. The “8 Ball” plotting chart and some formulas will test the patience of those rusty on algebra and geometry. In addition, principles are occasionally given as truisms without adequate explanation (for example, “naturally, if we increase the apparent wind velocity . . . we will increase the boat speed.”)

Finally, this book offers the reader incidental views into the quaint world of pre-war East Coast yachting. Though the text is intended as a universal scientific discussion, the reader is assumed to be sailing on Long Island Sound (“the foremost yachting waters in America”). In determining compass variation, the reader is encouraged to eschew the azimuth ring and instead use a wad of gum, a toothpick, a fine chronometer, and the time signal from WOR in New Jersey.

Wind and Tide’s simple block diagrams and clear explanations simplify the fundamentals, whereas a new racing text, with an emphasis on gear, instruments, and precision, might intimidate (or bore?) the non-racer. With just the concepts, you will appreciate our sport more, you may squeeze a little more performance from your old boat and baggy sails, and you may avoid homeward slogs to windward. Used copies are available for between $10 and $20.

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At Sea in the City, New York From the Water’s Edge

by William Kornblum (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2002; 232 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Lon Zimmerman, Anchorage, Alaska
Good Old Boat newsletter, October 2002

At Sea in the City is no grim tale of surviving the savage sea, but a quiet journey through the spaces and history of New York City’s archipelago. Author Dr. William Kornblum and friends sail a very old, decrepit Crosby Catboat from Long Beach to New York Harbor. His concern is that New Yorkers have turned their backs on their waterways. Life in gleaming high-rise condominiums keeps New Yorkers “physically and emotionally” detached from the important estuaries of their city. The purpose of his voyage, was to “make the waters of my own city into my home waters.” The author received the Merit Honor Award for his work on planning urban national recreational areas. He is well qualified to investigate the importance of city waterways to urban life.

At Sea in the City is somewhat like a maritime version of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. William comments on habitat, wildlife, and the impact of man as he sails the Crosby Catboat along the edge of the city.

The sociologist comments on the history of the diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups struggling to find their niche in this large group of islands. An example of this is the dune grass invading an open beachfront of Arverne. Black and Puerto Rican families were relocated to the beachfront shacks in the 1950s. These people were displaced again to preserve real estate values, leaving the beach area that remains open to this day.

The book cover is graced by the author’s old Crosby Catboat with tanbark sails, making its way before the New York skyline. Each chapter begins with a quote from Walt Whitman, Thoreau, Poe, or some other worthy person who reflects on the content of that chapter.

The maps included with each chapter are ambiguous sketches. Better maps that show what is water and what is land and where the reader is in relation to the journey would improve the journey for the reader. The description of locations along the route could have been supplemented with a few photos to help the reader see what the author saw.

Though not a page turner, this is a unique look at New York from the waterfront. Anyone planning an expedition through some portion of the New York archipelago will want a copy of At Sea in the City aboard. It is an information storehouse on the sociology, ecology, and history of this area.

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By the Grace of the Sea, A Woman’s Solo Odyssey Around the World

by Pat Henry (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2002; 351 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Steve Mitchell, Ellicott City, Md.
Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

Most sailors have daydreamed about sailing away to escape life’s inevitable troubles . . . point the nose of your boat toward the horizon and keep going. Pat Henry didn’t daydream about it, she did it — a solo circumnavigation in her Southern Cross 31 (named Southern Cross) . . . a feat for anyone, but especially for a woman who was 48 when she began the trip in 1989.

Pat was escaping quite a bit: two failed marriages, a failed business venture (and along with that the long arm of the IRS), and a dysfunctional family. She was married at 15 and a mother at 16. Her parents divorced, creating an almost total separation from her father, who agreed never to see her again. As a child, she was shuttled between her grandparents and her mother.

This telling of her eight-year voyage is far more than just another story of high-sea adventures. It’s a personal account of Pat herself: her fears, desires, needs, and motivations. The book’s appeal is how well her adventure promoted her self-discovery and healed her psyche. It gave her the sense of accomplishment that had eluded her since childhood. The book chronicles Pat’s growth along the way as she developed the inner strength and insight to come to terms with “the real world.”

The story is even more appealing given Pat’s lack of funds to support her grand adventure. She worked hard during the voyage to develop her skills as an artist, showing and selling her paintings along the way to fund the next leg of the trip. She proves how resourcefulness and a marketable skill can enable someone to make such an adventure without a pile of cash. A highlight is how the cruising community comes together in foreign lands at times of need to help each other out.

Pat knows what her voyage means to dreamers. She writes: “The fantasy of ‘sailing around the world’ typically cast a dreamy haze over a person’s eyes when we met for the first time. ‘I’ve always wanted to do just what you’re doing.’ I’d heard it a hundred times. ‘I know,’ was always my response. ‘My job is living everyone’s dream. Someone has to do it.’ They’d look perplexed, and then we’d laugh.”

A refreshing contrast to Tania Aebi (another female circumnavigator) is that Pat was not new to bluewater sailing when she set out on this adventure. She had sailed some 40,000 open ocean miles on other people’s boats before setting out on her own. She knew what she was getting into. Hardcore sailors will get their fix of storms at sea and of exotic ports of call, complete with local characters. Even non-sailors will enjoy Pat’s very personal story of coping with life’s bumps and fulfilling dreams. This book will make fine winter reading for all who dream of pointing the bow for the horizon.

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After the Storm, True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea

by John Rousmaniere (New York: International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2002; 337 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Jon Paulus, Parma, Ohio
Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

This headline, from the July 2, 1935 Boston Post, chills the heart. It refers to the story of the ketch, Hamrah, and the Ames family, lost at sea during an ocean voyage. John Rousmaniere tells that story and 11 others in After the Storm. If you like sea stories, you’ll love these 12 tales of nautical derring-do. John writes in a spare, evocative style. He provides us with an intimate look at people wrestling with the power of wind and wave. The stories range from the Biblical storms faced by the prophet Jonah and the apostle Paul, to his own discovery of a derelict sailboat in the Atlantic.

John combines meticulous research with his own storm experience to analyze each storm, each wreck, and each death. The case of the Mary Celeste has been debated since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his wildly fictionalized account of her abandonment. John carefully presents the major theories about the derelict including stories of aliens and the Giant Rat of Sumatra. He then offers the most plausible explanation.

This is not a dry reference book. Every paragraph shows the author’s heart and soul as he discusses our complex relationship with the sea. His storytelling and analysis are superb. After the Storm is ultimately about the meaning of storms and about the emotional and spiritual aftereffects of disaster at sea. If you enjoy reflecting on the big questions of life, you’ll appreciate the philosophical and theological reflection at the book’s heart. John has been out there in good weather and bad. His experience in the 1979 Fastnet drove him to Union Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. This book comes from a place deep within himself. He draws parallels between storms on the deep and those other storms of life. He talks about the stages of recovery from tragedy and the disorders that trauma and stress produce.

The book includes a number of heart-stopping photos. Some of the most dramatic were snapped by John himself.

If you love a good sea yarn; if you care about the people who go down to the sea in ships; if you’ve ever pondered over your own storms, nautical or otherwise; you will want to get your hands on a copy of After the Storm. Read it a chapter at a time. Get the feel of the characters who inhabit the story. Vicariously savor their experiences. Let your mind go. Reflect, ponder, enjoy. You’ll be glad you did.

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Wooden Boats, In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard

by Michael Ruhlman (Penguin Books, 2002; 326 pages; $14.00)
Reviewed by Doug Cameron, Sewanee, Tenn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

More than a century ago some people opposed the use of fountain pens in schools because the art of using a pen knife to sharpen a quill would be lost. The boating community long ago quit using manila hemp in favor of synthetic (plastic) ropes, and I can think of no one who regrets the advance in technology.

To Michael Ruhlman and the characters of his story, Wooden Boats, fiberglass boats represent a throwaway, plastic, cookie-cutter culture and everything that is wrong with modern American society. They state that fiberglass boats cannot be repaired and fall apart at sea. In contrast, wooden boats are works of art in design and construction — a series of problems solved; they are reliable and do not fail under adverse conditions. If not unique, a wooden boat is not a precise copy of others. Whether wood or fiberglass, it seems to me that there are ugly and beautiful, seaworthy and flimsy, boats in both categories. The author is not a sailor, and his whole experience is confined to an opinionated segment of the wooden boat community.

Nevertheless, Wooden Boats is a fascinating tale about plank-on-frame wooden boats and the artists and craftsmen who build them. Reminiscent of A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time (Douglas Whynott’s story of Joel White’s last boat), Michael tells an engaging story of the men who design and build these craft, keeping alive a lost art. He follows the owners of Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railroad in Martha’s Vineyard through the design and construction of two major plank-on-frame wooden ships: a 60-foot gaff schooner and a 32-foot motor yacht. We see how a boat is planned — discussions with the owner, rough drawings, detailed drawings and lofting, the search for the right wood, the steaming and bending of frames, and the fairing and squaring of the boards that are screwed to the sawn frames. Everything on a Gannon and Benjamin boat (excluding the mass-produced screws and a few parts salvaged from old boats) is designed and fashioned for a specific purpose on a specific boat, including blocks, cleats, and bow chocks.

Wooden Boats is also the story of the lives of Nat Benjamin and Ross Gannon. In trying to understand wooden boats, Michael follows the paths of many of the workers in the boatshop, including the man who finds the tropical hardwoods in Surinam. This is an interesting and varied group, bound by their love of sailing and the sea and of wooden boats. It is also the tale of a community of wooden boats that surrounds G&B Marine Railway and how the shop makes this community possible. It’s a fascinating tapestry and, with the exception of the bashing of fiberglass boats, this is a well woven tale, especially to those interested in beautiful sailing craft and those who love and care for them.

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Tropical Cruising Handbook

by Mark Smaalders and Kim des Rochers, (International Marine, 2002; 376 pages; $34.95.)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

One sailors’ lament might very well be “so many sailing books, so little time.” If time for reading them is not the issue, then space for storing them (particularly if you are cruising) will be. Mark Smaalders and Kim des Rochers offer assistance if you’re heading toward tropical waters. Their book, Tropical Cruising Handbook, condenses much of the information you’ll need into one compact source with some terrific references you’ll want to look into before you go. I read this book — meant for those cruising between latitudes 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator — while vacationing at 48 degrees north. Even so, I found much of interest.

I was specifically interested in Mark and Kim’s information about necessary customs and immigration permits and procedures and their list of resources which should be valuable to anyone planning a voyage. This is information which does not seem to be otherwise available in one neat package. This section also includes what you will want to know about immunizations and protecting yourself from tropical illnesses, infections, and poisonings which tropical fish, reptiles, and plants (sharks, alligators, and jelly fish, for example) can inflict. Like so many thrillers, you probably shouldn’t read this section just before going to bed. There is also a section on the cultural exchange which occurs when North American sailors visit tropical communities in the Pacific and Atlantic.

Perhaps the best part for anyone considering a lengthy cruise is the comprehensive review of popular tropical cruising destinations including currents, geography, weather, culture, formalities, and health and safety issues. Areas reviewed in this fashion (with helpful planning charts for reference) include the West Indies, Central America, the Caribbean areas of South America, the South Atlantic, The North and South Pacific, the North and South Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The ever-popular Mediterranean is not included because it is not within the tropical latitudes of 23.5 degrees north and south.

The book provides a nice primer on tropical ecosystems (coral reefs and mangrove forests) and weather patterns along with storm tactics for heavy weather. It discusses navigation and anchoring strategies with a specific focus on coral reefs – perils for you and protection for them. There are basic discussions of sails, sailing strategies, route planning, passagemaking, and “green cruising.” Another chapter sums up methods for providing ventilation, shade, and drinking water while also reviewing provisioning, laundry, and dealing with tropical pests such as roaches and mosquitoes. Mark and Kim also offer an extensive discussion of metal corrosion and a brief review of boat and engine maintenance and necessary spares.

It’s cold up north where we sail, and we won’t be going south anytime soon. If we were heading south, however, Tropical Cruising Handbook is one reference I’d study before leaving and take along with me when the docklines were finally untied.

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Ready for Sea, How to Outfit the Modern Cruising Sailboat and Prepare Your Vessel and Yourself for Extended Passagemaking and Living Aboard

by Tor Pinney (Sheridan House, 2002; 240 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Giles Morris, Arlington, Va. Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

The highest compliment you can pay to some people is to say that they’ve never held down a job. For anybody with the goal of long-term cruising, the first question might be how to achieve that goal. That’s not to say that Tor Pinney doesn’t work. His brief autobiography in the introduction to this book is a description of a life of ease that sounds like very hard work. If you were wondering how you might prepare a boat for cruising, a good first step would be to ask questions of somebody who has done it. Tor Pinney has done it, and this book was written to answer those first questions. His credentials are impressive, and he presents his subject well.

Ready For Sea is rich in specialized information, and the subtitle describes it fully and accurately: how to outfit the modern cruising sailboat and prepare your vessel and yourself for extended passagemaking and living aboard. In the wrong hands, though, this book could be dangerous: if cruising is something you feel drawn to but believe it’s something only “special people” can do, then you should be aware that Captain Pinney has the gift of making it seem achievable. You might well be left with thoughts along the lines of “I could do that.” This is not to imply that he trivializes the issues involved or encourages inadequate preparation, but behind all the preparations he never loses sight of his own rules, his “tenets,” and Tenet #1 is to have fun. That rule is summarized by his answer when someone suggests that he’s going to do some really serious sailing: “No, I’m not. I’m talking about doing some really fun sailing. Serious is what I hope to leave behind.”

This isn’t intended to be a how-to book. If you want detailed instructions on all of the things that need to be done, you should look elsewhere. What you will find here is a description of what you should do, rather than how you should do it. Although it’s clearly aimed at a specialized audience, any sailboat owner will find some ideas here, if only the idea that it’s time to check your standing rigging (“Being dismasted is no fun, especially offshore. And that contradicts Tenet #1”). Tor shares my prejudices, but it seems to me that he believes in balance, with neither a hairshirt following of Joshua Slocum nor a belief in the need for every modern convenience. You will find a chapter on an Integrated Energy System, but also the suggestion that you don’t really need one.

If you’re planning on cruising, or dreaming of it, then this book should certainly be on your reading list.

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A Year in Paradise: How We Lived Our Dream

by Stephen Wright Watterson (Eagle Cliff Press, 2001; 172 pages; $14.95.)
Reviewed by Jerry Richter, Reading, Pa. Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

In Volume 6 of C.S. Forester’s Hornblower saga, the hero cuts out a captured British cutter, the Witch of Endor, in Nantes harbor to complete his escape from the bowels of Napoleonic France down the Loire River to the welcoming arms of the blockading British fleet. In this book, Watterson recounts his and his wife Margaret’s similar escape from the inland waters of Ohio to the sea (Florida Keys) on their own, ironically French-made Witch of Endor, a Beneteau 30.

While the Pardeys and Palleys write wonderful books about their full-time cruising lives, there are few sailors who can hope to emulate them. For many of us, the eastern shore of the Atlantic beckons, but the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake is reachable. Stephen is writing for us.

This book describes a trip from Lake Erie, through the Erie Canal, down the Hudson River, day-hopping down the Jersey coast, and the Intracoastal Waterway to Key West and back. The author and his wife are in their 60s and have owned sailboats for about 10 years. They are clear about their modest cruising goals, stating several times that they are not overnight sailors. As a result, the trip is described in the form of relatively easy daysails from point-to-point. Also refreshing is the frequent acknowledgment of the place of nervousness, or downright fear, in the life of the amateur cruiser even in such seemingly mundane activities as entering a strange marina. Stephen’s careful explanations of such things as, “A boat changes direction by swinging the stern from one side to the other while moving ahead,” and “Yanmar is a maker of sailboat diesel engines,” show that the non-sailor, or absolute novice, is also part of his intended audience.

The day-trip pace and the number of stops makes this book an excellent companion to the traditional cruising guides for the various areas covered. Especially in terms of such long-term stops as Boot Key, the author paints a good picture of the social and cultural environment that evolves in a cruising anchorage. However, much of the book is derived from the couple’s family newsletters. Readers who are not enamored of this writing style may find parts of the book tough going. The chronological and linear, rather than thematic, structure seemed to me to result in a choppy, at times turgid, narrative flow.

On the whole, this is a good book for a sailor’s collection. It provides a realistic view of the coastal cruising experience fitted into the constraints of real life and a good description of various legs of the trip. I found the Erie Canal description to be especially interesting as I was preparing for the same trip. On the other hand, I would not pull this down from the shelf if I were looking for a good sailing yarn to wile away a cold winter night.

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The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow

by A. J. (“Sandy”) Mackinnon (Sheridan House, 2002; 356 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by John Vigor, Bellingham, Wash.
Good Old Boat newsletter, October, 2002

When Sandy Mackinnon set out on a vacation trip down the River Severn, in England, he wasn’t planning to be away more than two weeks. His boat, after all, was a 10-foot 10-inch Mirror Class dinghy that he could only sail or row. But somehow, as he says, things got out of hand, and “almost by accident” he found himself 3,000 miles away in Romania a year later, and still rowing. This book is about the adventures he had along the way.

Thirty-four-year-old Sandy, an Australian teacher of English and drama, somehow managed to sleep on the Mirror beneath a boom tent when he couldn’t find a handy bed-and-breakfast place at night.

Sailing folk will cringe at the cavalier way he treated his boat, which he named Jack de Crow, and his inability to make repairs after the inevitable accidents. But when Sandy put yet another hole in the bottom, someone would magically appear with a workshop full of tools and marine plywood and fix the problem for him for nothing.

His sailing and navigation skills were rudimentary, which got him into a lot of scrapes, including getting lost on a solo crossing of the English Channel, but what he lacked in experience he made up for in guts and determination as he made his way at a snail’s pace through 12 countries, passing through 282 locks on the way.

Sandy frequently exaggerates to bolster up the funny bits. Given some of the truly strange things that happened to him, it shouldn’t have been necessary to exaggerate in parts and thereby cast doubts on the veracity of the whole. It was O. W. Holmes who said: “I never dare to write as funny as I can.” That’s a lesson Sandy has yet to learn.

Week after week, while he dragged, pushed, sailed, and rowed Jack de Crow across Western Europe, over the Alps and down the mighty Danube to the Black Sea, Sandy made friends with a fascinating variety of locals. His encounters with them make for rich entertainment.

Yet this book still comes across as curiously one-dimensional. For instance, Sandy makes no reference to the Vikings, who made that grueling trip regularly with their trading boats a thousand years before him, hauling the craft over river shallows and solid land on rollers as they made their way to the Black Sea. Neither does he mention the intrepid American journalist Negley Farson, who sailed the 26-foot yawl Flame across Europe from the North Sea to the Black Sea in 1924.

Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of well-written substance here, plenty of vicarious thrills for anyone who wants to experience a hair-raising European rowboat trip without the bother of leaving the couch.

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Used Boat Notebook

by John Kretschmer (Sheridan House, 2002; 240 pages; $29.95.)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boatnewsletter, October, 2002

John Kretschmer has just published a new book of interest to good old boaters, Used Boat Notebook, offering 40 reviews of good old boats which have been published in Sailing magazine over the past six years and reviews of 10 more which he considers to be great bluewater cruisers.

John begins the list of 40 with a 23-footer, moves through many of our favorite 27- to 30-footers, and winds up with the Whitby 42. His list of 10 great used boats to sail around the world goes as small as the Camper Nicholson 35 and as large as the Gulfstar 50. The list of 10 bluewater cruisers averages more than 41 feet. Clearly there is some bias here.

John states: “The choices for the 10 Best reflect the changing nature of cruising. Boats are getting bigger. Recent surveys show that the average bluewater cruiser is more than 40 feet long. It is easy to conjure up the dream to sail around the world, and rather straightforward to put together a plan to accumulate the funds for the voyage. Choosing the right boat to head off into the blue unknown, however, can be most confusing. The task is easier if you have 20 years of hard-won experience and an unlimited budget. While this book won’t offer investment advice to enhance your budget, it can hasten your exodus if you are willing to consider an affordable boat instead of waiting for that perfect, yet more expensive, boat.”

In discussing the selection criteria, John notes that he’s talking about fiberglass cruising sailboats and states, “Most sell for less than $100,000 and some even sell for less than $10,000. Naturally some of the boats larger than 40 feet and some of the higher-quality boats sell for more. The bulk of the reviews, however, examine boats in the 30- to 40-foot range, with prices falling from $30,000 to $70,000.”

Since it’s unreasonable to review a book of reviews, I’ll instead list the boats covered. If you’re interested in seeing John’s review of one or several of these, this is a book for you. His sections in each review called “Things to look for,” discussing possible problem areas, will be particularly valuable.

20- to 29-footers
O’Day 23, Stone Horse, Cal 25, MacGregor 25/26, Contessa 26, Tartan 27, Pearson Triton, Sabre 28, and S2 9.2.

30- to 34-footers
Catalina 30, Olson 30, Cape Dory 30, Nonsuch 30, Pearson 30, Gemini 3000, Island Packet 31, Allied Seawind II, Westsail 32, Ranger 33, Irwin Citation 34, and Beneteau First 345.

35- to 39-footers
Niagara 35, J/35, Bristol 35, Ericson 35-II, Islander 36, Columbia 36, Tartan 37, Tayana 37, Endeavour 37, Swan 38, Baltic 38 DP, Morgan 382, and C&C 39.

40- to 42-footers
Valiant 40, Cal 40, Hunter 40, Bermuda 40, Morgan Out Island 41, and Whitby 42.

10 great used boats to sail around the world
Camper Nicholson 35, Alberg 37, Shannon 38, Fast Passage 39, Beneteau First 38, Tayana 42, Mason 43, Peterson 44, Stevans-Hylas 47, and Gulfstar 50.

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Cruising in Catamarans

by Charles E. Kanter (SAILco Press, 2002; 406 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Michael Beattie, Key West, Fla.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Cruising in Catamarans is an ideal primer for any Good Old Boat reader who has been thinking about the possibility of getting into multihulls but hasn’t a clue where to start. Chuck Kanter offers chapters on matching boats to your needs, design parameters, including trimarans, and reviews statistics and diagrams of more boats that fit our definition of a good old boat than you might expect.

The title of the book is somewhat deceptive in a magazine market that is totally focused on the dream of travel by sail. While Chuck does give a thorough education about how to sail a multihull, his interest lies in the different types of boats he has surveyed, sailed, and reviewed. A more accurate title might have been Multihulls I Have Known because even though this book offers a vast panorama of different new and used boats, it’s a market that changes constantly. Several Prouts are listed as new although that venerable factory has disappeared; and Fountaine-Pajot and Lagoon, two major French manufacturers, get relatively short shrift despite their huge output. However elderly British designs are listed in enormous detail, which is why I suggest this book will be a delight for a good old boater looking for an inexpensive way to get into multihulls.

Chuck’s enormous experience as a surveyor gives him a sharp eye for details that will alert a careful reader to design flaws that could make multihull ownership a burden instead of a delight. He doesn’t simply trash a design. Instead he tries to explain what sort of owner might best appreciate the particular model. In his review of the Packet Cat, he gives a thumbs up to a design that has had many critics among multihullers: “A multihull orthodoxy has grown up which has as its central theme, ‘in a multihull if you haven’t got speed you haven’t got anything.’ . . . Many people are taking advantage of the other sterling qualities of cruising catamarans such as shallow draft, non-heeling level sailing, seakindliness, large deck area, and interior volume. These cruisers are willing to sacrifice the possibility of high speed . . . for creature comforts.”

Even if you still harbor the delusion that we multihullers live at constant risk of capsize, Chuck will explain far more patiently than I ever could why a catamaran is inherently safer and more comfortable than a monohull. Join the sailing revolution with this excellent primer! I wish someone had offered me all this useful information when I decided to switch to multihulling. In fact, even though I have been a catamaran sailor for six years, I still found helpful information in this book. You will, too.

Now, all we need to do is get Good Old Boat to feature some of these good old multihulls and their owners happily sailing on more than one hull!

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White Hurricane

by David G. Brown (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2002; 231 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Larry Carpenter, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Beware of the gales of November. Those who sail the Great Lakes — especially Lake Superior — take that admonition seriously. Recreational boaters have the luxury of hauling boats out in October and tucking them away for the winter, then smugly checking the Great Lakes weather from warm homes. They congratulate themselves that they don’t have to deal with 20-foot waves and gale-force winds. Commercial shipping doesn’t have that luxury. These ships navigate until the upper lakes shut themselves down as ice chokes harbors, locks, and rivers. They face the gales of November year after year.

The first gale of the season came early in 1913, and his father’s story of jumping from second-story windows into snow banks captured the imagination of David Brown. From an early age, he eagerly accumulated all the information he could find about that storm. This fascination culminated in a book published this year named White Hurricane, as the storm of November 1913 came to be called.

David dug into meteorological records of the day, and enlisted present-day meteorologists in reconstructing the storm as it unfolded over several days. In 1913 there was no knowledge of weather fronts or jet streams. Nationwide weather reports were collated by hand in a national weather map in Washington, D.C., and telegraphed for local weather offices to reconstruct.

The author uses old newspaper accounts to take us back to 1913 as he weaves a series of vignettes describing events on specific ships as the storm progressed day by day. It is confusing to follow the sequence on any single ship, but there is a great sense of storm continuity. Ships were not fitted with wireless radios so, other than warning flags, captains were left to their own devices. The reader is made to feel concern growing into terror as ship after ship is lost.

A dozen ships were lost in the White Hurricane. Probably 250 sailors died, and many more ships were driven aground as 90-mph winds built 35-foot waves. The reader is reminded of knowledge and inventions that have been gained since that time. We also learn of bureaucratic bungling and finger pointing in the storm’s aftermath as shipowners, the weather bureau, and even Congress try to assign blame for the terrible loss of ships and life. Even the definition of a hurricane was questioned. Some things never change.

The author has given us a very readable account of the most devastating storm to hit Great Lakes shipping. He brings history to life in a book as readable as an adventure novel. The book is a very nice addition to any nautical library — but you will want to read it before it goes onto the shelf.

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A Deadly Exchange

by Sheryl Jane Stafford (Writer’s Showcase/Universe, 2000; 353 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Pat Morris, St. Paul, Minnesota
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

When Good Old Boat editors asked me to review this mystery novel, I happily agreed because mysteries are my favorite junk food. But the editor/proofreader in me is always on duty, and it took me five tries to get past the first 20 pages. The first few pages couldn’t keep my attention and, though the bad guys were recognizable as being really bad, it took quite a while for me to like the good guys well enough to care what the bad guys were doing to them.

It didn’t help that there were editing and proofing errors. Since I am a proofreader for Good Old Boat and others, this was like biting an M&M peanut and finding no peanut; the next few M&Ms are eaten with a measure of distrust. So it was as I turned each page of this book until I was about halfway through. Interrupted by a telephone call, I realized I couldn’t wait to get back to the warm Bahamian waters where Alexandra and Matthew Spencer were relishing their first cruise on their Pearson 323, Amani.

After a $10,000 down payment, they had turned Amani over to a charter company which took care of the yacht and paid off most of the boat mortgage through charters. Now that the boat was theirs free and clear, Alex and Matt anticipated many years of sailing, swimming, and exploring secluded beaches and each other. But they didn’t know about the cocaine the bad guys had hidden on Amani by mistake.

Once they discover the cocaine, they find that the Bahamas’ translucent, emerald-green waters and idyllic islands are also home to a drug cartel that carries on business without fear of the local police and to American agents who care more about the drug dealers than Americans tourists’ lives. Even the quaint native family that lives on a nearby boat knows better than to help the American whose wife has been kidnapped.

Matt, a former POW, realizes it’s up to him to find and rescue his wife. The bad guys (and the author does a great job of making them really bad) would prefer to retrieve their cocaine and kill them both. The ensuing battle of wits, weapons, and torture at times becomes creatively gruesome.

This was Sheryl Stafford’s first novel, which may account for the unevenness at the beginning of the book. By the end she had a firm grip on the story, and I didn’t want to let go.

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The Oceans are Waiting

by Sharon Ragle (Sheridan House Inc., 2002; 209 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Mike Mikkelson, Stillwater, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

When out of nowhere this voice said to me, “You will sail around the world”. Before I could even think, ‘Where did that come from?’ another part of me just said ‘yes.’ ” This comment, from a middle-aged divorced woman with no background in sailing, is unusual enough for me to say that I don’t understand, but perhaps it was meant to be. She did sail around the world!

Accepting her destiny, Sharon Ragle bought a 32-foot Allied Seawind II ketch to use in her quest. This was a good old boat by most any one’s standards, but then she had another epiphany. She no longer wanted to be alone so she ran an ad in Cruising World for a partner. From an ensuing list of would-be suitors Sharon chose/fell in love with Dave, and they were married. Her plan now included Dave and his Tartan 37, another old — but not as old — good old boat. Sharon sold the Seawind.

The couple set sail in December 1993, and they completed their circumnavigation on June 4, 1998. On their voyage, they approached each new challenge with a little naivete and also some savvy. Dave had been a sailor for some time but, like most of us, he had his experience much closer to home.

There are idyllic moments in sailing and sometimes hours/ days/weeks of great discomfort. Yes, the oceans are waiting with sublime joys of God’s creation that cannot be adequately described. The oceans also have a profound indifference toward the sailor and will bring pleasure and pain. The Oceans are Waiting is a glimpse, but an honest glimpse, of sailing in a small boat.

This book is not heavy-duty reading, but it is enjoyable much like letters from a friend who is sharing the joys and trials of reaching for a dream. Sharon’s book has a couple of applications. You may find more, but here are the ones I have in my mind.

1. The book is broken into 30 small chapters, each with a story to tell that takes the reader away from wherever you are to a leg or observation or adventure somewhere on Sharon’s “meant-to-be sail around the world.” It could be read a chapter at a time whenever you need to get away. The chapters average less than seven pages each.

2. You could add this book the long list of books that a prospective world traveling sailor might read before setting out. There are plenty of things to learn from the experience of others concerning cultures along the way and in solving problems with equipment, the sea, and yourself.

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Telegram from the Palace

by Geoffrey Toye (Starborn Books, 2002; 334 pages; $11.00 U.S. plus shipping)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Jack the Ripper in the 1880s. The sinking of the Lusitania during World War I. The British Royal Family. Modern day lovers enmeshed in a series of life-threatening events over which they have no control and of which they have even less comprehension.

Good Old Boat author Geoffrey Toye, a Welshman, weaves a fascinating tale of intrigue in his second novel, Telegram from the Palace. Because he’s a sailor, Geoffrey’s characters spend much of their time sailing the coasts off the British Isles and France as they evade capture and pursue villains. This is a sailor’s thriller. Geoffrey does not bow to the current practice of enlarging his potential audience by describing sailing activities or clarifying sailing terms. The book is full of sailhandling — all well done — with no pausing to explain things to the uninitiated. Hop aboard and hold on.

This thriller spans the century from Victoria’s to Thatcher’s England, weaving in a colorful cast of characters who are interlocked over several generations. Call it a re-interpretation of historical events, if you will, this book is based on facts as told by history but then is overlaid with several fictional plots complicated enough to keep any reader guessing and second-guessing as the novel unfolds with twists and turns.

It is not so much a who-dunnit as a why-dunnit, a device which Geoffrey has used in previous novels. The reader is not completely sure until the very end who the good guys are and what motivates protagonists and antagonists alike.

Readers on the North American continent will be just as involved in the plot as their cousins across the Atlantic, even though the plot revolves around events of historical significance in Great Britain. U.S. readers will particularly appreciate the British spellings and expressions. All English-speaking sailors will enjoy the excellent descriptions of sailing and navigating.

Get cozy. Pull your chair up closer to the fireplace. Enjoy a different approach to today’s thriller. And sail along vicariously with some rather likable characters while you’re at it.

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Susan’s Sailing Adventures

by Jahnn Swanker Gibson, (America House Book Publishers 2001; 138 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Hilary Street, age 12, Zimmerman, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

In the story, Susan’s Sailing Adventures by Jahnn Swanker Gibson, Susan is a 12-year-old girl who tells of her many sailing trips with her mom, dad, and several family friends. Throughout the story Susan gives interesting facts about the places she is visiting and also expresses many of her own feelings.Each chapter is a different story about her trips on sailboats.

In the first chapter, Susan tells you about herself and her family and also explains some of the family history. The second is about her family helping to crew during a race. She also explains how a boat moves and gives a very good example of how it works, tells you about several other parts of a boat, and is all the while giving you fun and interesting facts about the place she is currently sailing.

Some of the things Susan introduces to the reader include the Fresnel lens, 12-Meters, cans, and several places that she stopped at or passed by on one of her trips. Susan is very outgoing with her feelings, and tells you exactly what she thinks about her parents’ disgusting coffee, how big waves are fun, and that sunsets are beautiful. Everywhere she goes, Susan and her family seem to make new friends almost unintentionally (of course they sometimes take a few along as well).

This book has a lot of information that will help the newer sailor, and the rules of the road may also be interesting to the more experienced sailor. It is geared toward the early teen, however most people would probably find something in it to tickle their interest. I would highly suggest anyone who is looking for a fun and entertaining sailing story to pick up a copy.

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Boat Interior Construction

by Michael Naujok (Sheridan House, 2nd Edition 2002; 176 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Douglas Nikkila, Accord, N.Y.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Have you dreamed of laying your own teak deck, installing a holding tank, or sprucing up your boat’s interior with new vinyl headlining but lack the know-how to achieve these dreams? If so, Boat Interior Construction will certainly help.

Author Michael Naujok begins the book by cautioning readers not to do their own fitting out solely for the sake of saving money. He states that those who do “. . . won’t even get as far as the launch before suffering shipwreck. However, if you see building the boat as a labor of love, you should make it to the slipway.”

Naujok’s love for boatwork is obvious as you thumb through the pages of this DIY book. Thirty-six chapters filled with step-by-step color photos help you understand the various projects the author undertakes, be it choosing the right boat or varnishing that new companionway ladder.

The book deals mostly with Naujok’s personal journey of fitting out his Carl Beyer 33 sloop. One of my favorite parts of the book is the well-diagramed and photographed chapter on laying a teak deck. This should lessen the trepidation most of us have when undertaking a project of this size. Another aspect of the book that I appreciate is Naujok’s constant attention to matching the wood’s color and grain. This is one of those small, but important, details that is seldom dealt with in other texts on boat joinery.

The reader should be cautioned that this text was written in Europe where the metric system dominates, and boatbuilding practices differ somewhat from those here in North America. Furthermore, with 36 chapters packed into 176 pages, the book is bound to leave out a great deal of necessary information. It would be no surprise if the reader still hungers for more after completing the book. For example, the chapter titled “The Electrical System” is only four pages . . . hardly enough to describe the installation of a new electrical system.

As a stand-alone text on fitting out, I feel that most chapters lack the depth and detail the average boatbuilder needs to master the projects within it. It could certainly benefit from the use of a glossary of terms. However, as an adjunct to other books such as Boat Joinery, by Fred P. Bingham; This Old Boat, by Don Casey; and Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat, by Daniel Spurr, Boat Interior Construction would be a valuable addition to the do-it-yourselfer’s library.

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The Voyage Alone in the Yawl Rob Roy

by John MacGregor (Dover Publications, 2001; 214 pages; reprint of 1954 edition; abridged edition, originally published 1867)
Historical review by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Readers of this magazine generally agree on the virtues of small boats, modest budgets, and sailing trips that may start out less ambitious than Cape Horn voyages. Seamanship, simplicity, and self-reliance are the guiding principles; the Pardeys, Annie Hill, and Don Casey might be the guiding authors. But from where did the tradition of modest yachting begin? Salty workboats? The fiberglass revolution of the 1950s? The singlehanded lunatic fringe of the 1960s?

John MacGregor’s yarn The Voyage Alone shows us that the tradition reaches back at least to the middle of the 19th century. MacGregor — also a mountain climber, founder of the Royal Canoe Club, and a full-time self-promoter — undertook a singlehanded pleasure cruise in his 21-foot yawl from the Thames across the English Channel, up the Seine to Paris, and back. It was 1867 and although all the other boats in each harbor were workboats, his cheerful, colorful story describes the same objectives and ideals of today’s good old boater.

This coastal voyage offers a colorful snapshot of 19th-century coastal Europe. Fishwives haul him from a harbor, a bizarre array of power vessels tow him up rivers, and the captains of locks dally and drink. And some things apparently never change, as when MacGregor describes a beach town “just in the delicate stage of existence, when it has been found out and admired, but not yet spoilt.”

In addition to the scenic vignettes, The Voyage Alone offers practical lessons and perspective on seamanship. The author offers minutely detailed descriptions of the layout, accommodations, stores, and rigging. He details daily reorganizations of the little ship for sailing, cooking or sleeping. We realize that our “modest” 30-footers are vastly more spacious than the Rob Roy (MacGregor, moving up from a canoe, finds the Rob Roy spacious). His practical seamanship is also instructive in reminding us that sailing doesn’t always follow the clock. His opportunism in waiting for tides, willingness to kedge from difficult spots, tolerance for running aground and into piers, and patience in navigating without aids reminds us that cruising requires patience and improvisation as much as gear and crew.

The voyage of the Rob Roy is not the story of a voyage of a grand yacht, a crazed loner, or a crusty fisherman. It is the story of a seamanlike but leisurely pleasure cruise, written when yachting was still the exception, not the rule, on waterways. Two centuries ago, MacGregor was writing about the coastal passages most us will undertake: modest, usually stopping at night, and with amenities more like those of camping. Voyages like these are still the escape and challenge most of us seek today. The Voyage Alone is in print in paperback.

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Cruising and Living Without Refrigeration: A Collection of Recipes and Storage Ideas

by Melissa Fisher (Melissa Fisher publisher, 2002; 94 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat newsletter, December, 2002

Good Old Boat writer Melissa Fisher (Rudder Renewal, May 2001) has just developed a cruising cookbook of immense value to anyone planning to go simply. Called Cruising and Living Without Refrigeration: A Collection of Recipes and Storage Ideas, this book helps take the mystery out of cruising without ice.

It’s one thing to cruise, as Jerry and I do, without ice for a couple of weeks at a time on chilly Lake Superior where the hull temperature remains at 50 degrees. It’s another thing entirely to cruise the Baja and beyond without ice. The risk of spoilage has got to rise exponentially.

Therefore, my hat’s off to Melissa who did it the hard way and tells others what she’s learned about cooking, storing, provisioning, and most of all staying healthy while challenged by wilderness cruising in a tropical setting.

Melissa’s book is of the simple self-published variety. She acknowledges this, saying, “I am running a small-time operation, but I figured if I waited for someone else to publish this for me I would miss out on the West Coast exodus to Mexico. That’s why, at this time only one photo is included along with the colorful ‘stamp art’ I created out of erasers.”

But my kitchen cabinet is full of simply produced cookbooks which were put out by a variety of individuals and organizations as fundraisers. Melissa’s book may or may not raise funds for her cruising kitty. That remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, my copy of this book goes not onto the kitchen shelf, but rather to Mystic’s galley . . . where it will be well appreciated.

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