Book Reviews From 2006
Reviews From 2006
February 2006 Newsletter
- J/Boats; Sailing to Success, by Anthony Dalton
- Tunnell’s Boys, by Tony Junker
- The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel MacNaughton
- Fix It and Sail, by Brian Gilbert
- Seaworthy, by Robert A. Adriance
- Miss Inclined, a music CD by Eileen Quinn
- The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, by Meade Gougeon
- Taking on the World, by Dame Ellen MacArthur
April 2006 Newsletter
- Captain Annabel, by Neal Evan Parker
- A Yachtsman’s Eye: The Glen S. Foster Collection of Marine Paintings, edited by Alan Granby
- The Last Voyage of the Karluk, by Robert Bartlett
- Well-favored Passage: The Magic of Lake Huron’s North Channel, a Cruising Guide by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom
- Distant Shores: Volume 5 (Greece and Turkey, Part 2), a DVD by Paul and Sheryl Shard
- Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual, by Don Casey
June 2006 Newsletter
- Cast Off for Catalina, a DVD directed by Ted Field and Mark Ritts
- Voyages to Windward, by Elsie Hulsizer
- Up the Creek: A Lifetime Spent Trying to be a Sailor, by Tony James
- Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners, by United States Power Squadrons
August 2006 Newsletter
- Ice Blink: A Family Navigating Life’s Ice-Clogged Waters, a DVD produced by Gregory Roscoe
- Myth, Fact, and Navigators’ Secrets: Incredible Tales of the Sea and Sailors, by J. Gregory Dill
- Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat, Third edition, by Daniel Spurr
- Ted Hood: Through Hand and Eye, by Ted Hood and Michael Levitt
- Ghost Sea, by Ferenc Máté
October 2006 Newsletter
- Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, Fl, by Mark and Diana Doyle
- It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, by Suzanne Giesemann
- The Voyages of Fishers Hornpipe, by Reuel B. Parker
- A Race for Real Sailors: Bluenose and the International Fishermen’s Cup, 1920-1938, by Keith McLaren
- The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat, by Jack Becker
December 2006 Newsletter
- Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas, by Beth Leonard
- Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts, by Mark and Diana Doyle
- The Barefoot Navigator: Navigating with the skills of the ancients, by Jack Lagan
- Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure: San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas, on DVD, by Greg and Jill Delezynski
- Guenevere’s First Summer in the Sea of Cortez: Cabo San Lucas to Isla Coronados, on DVD, by Greg and Jill Delezynski
- 65 Days Alone at Sea, by Bernie Harberts
- In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship, by John Rousmaniere
J/Boats; Sailing to Success
by Anthony Dalton (MBI Publishing Company, 2005; 156 pages; $34.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards Sequim, Wash.
“I just wanted a sailboat for myself and my family, but along the way it turned into a great adventure…” These words by Rod Johnstone capture the spirit of the J/Boats company. In this book, Anthony Dalton has compiled a wealth of material and great photos that recount the adventure, from the founding of J/boats through the company’s growth into one of the world’s best known yacht vendors.
This is not a book about boat design, although the design concepts incorporated throughout the J/boats yachts would provide ample material for such a book. Rather, Anthony Dalton focuses on the people behind the success of J/Boats. It began as a family affair and is still very much so today, 30-plus years later.
The first third of the book recounts the founding of J/boats by Rod and Bob Johnstone, and the remarkable success of the J/24, their first boat. This story began slowly and modestly in 1974 when Rod set out to build “the largest, fastest boat we could build in the confines of our garage.” The 24-foot boat was built on a shoestring, and it was not until the spring of 1976 that the hull was eased out through the 9-foot-wide garage door, and later christened Ragtime.
At the end of a wonderfully successful racing season, Rod approached Everett Pearson of TPI and negotiated an agreement to have TPI manufacture a boat based on Ragtime, using her hull as the plug for the initial tooling. This very synergistic relationship with TPI continues today. Bob joined Rod in forming a partnership, and thus was born J/Boats. Bob led the sales and marketing efforts while Rod devoted his energies to design and production coordination.
The middle third of this book highlights the more than three dozen designs (to date) from J/Boats. It provides insights into the thinking behind the various designs, which ranged from cruisers to all-out racers. This section also discusses the roles of the sons of Bob and Rod, who joined the company during its rapid expansion during the 1980s, and how the family managed the challenge of succession planning.
The final third of the book highlights some of the extensive voyages by owners of J/Boats yachts. Many have circumnavigated, and others have cruised their J/Boats to high latitudes. Anthony goes to some lengths to assure the reader that J/Boats are not just pretty faces on the racecourse.
Anthony Dalton has captured the enterprising spirit behind the success of J/Boats. This book will appeal to everyone with an interest in fine sailboats and the companies behind them. It will be of particular interest to fans of J/Boats, including my wife and me, who cruise and race our J/32 here in the Northwest.
by Tony Junker, (iUniverse, 2005; 285 pages; $28.95, $18.95 softcover — also available as an eBook)
Reviewed by Michael Maxfield, Gatesville, Texas
Brutal storms, fair winds, tyrannical captains, mutinous crew, ample danger and suspense. All of these classic elements of a seafaring tale are found in Tunnell’s Boys by Tony Junker. Also to be found are love and friendship, soul-searching discourses on the Spanish-American War, insight into Philadelphia Quaker lifestyles and beliefs, elaborate accounts of the lives of pilots on the Delaware Bay and River, and even a hurricane — all combined into one engaging sailing yarn.
This historical fiction is set in the last decades of the 1800s, the waning days of commercial sailing and during the buildup to the Spanish-American War. It recounts the story of Peter Long, a young aspiring writer who signs on with the pilot schooner Ebe W. Tunnell (an actual pilot boat of that era) as an apprentice pilot on the Delaware Bay and River.
The story is told from the perspective of Long in 1898, some ten years after his apprenticeship. Pilot Captain Long is assigned to pilot the schooner Hannah, and discovers her captain to be none other than Ebenezer Soule, a friend and rival from his apprenticeship days on the Tunnell. When a growing storm causes Long to miss the take-off boat at the mouth of the Delaware Bay he is forced to continue on with the Hannah and her mutinous crew on their sail to Barbados, right through the war zone of Spanish Cuba.
The book often reads like two stories in one. Its author jumps back and forth between the 1898 Hannah voyage and the apprenticeship years of 1888-92. The majority of the book is the story of Long and Soule on the Tunnell during their apprenticeships. The forced trip on Hannah quickly takes second stage and becomes a platform for Long’s recollections of the past…while also throwing in its own interluding plot twists. Though I found this jumping back and forth between past (1888) and present (1898) a little disconcerting at first, the plot lines did eventually mesh together into an enjoyable story.
This book is clearly written by a sailor, for sailors, and any novice would be more than a little confused by all the nautical terms. Even many knowledgeable sailors could find some of the archaic and regional terms a little confusing. One might wish for a small glossary, and maybe even a schematic drawing of a schooner’s floor- and sail plans.
Anyone looking for an entertaining sailing yarn with which to pass a few hours, or looking for a little insight into the world of Quaker Philadelphia and Delaware Bay pilots in the late 19th century, will find that Tunnell’s Boys serves either purpose.
The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers
by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel MacNaughton (W.W. Norton & Company, 2005; 528 pages; $250.00)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
A most amazing book arrived for review recently. The box weighed 8 pounds. This isn’t the sort of book you can hold on your lap or take along on the bus for light reading. The 528-page coffee-table size masterwork is not so much a book as an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia of yacht designers in one volume. Called The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, this impressive work was the dream of Lucia del Sol Knight, Bob Knight, and Dan MacNaughton. It was jointly written by more than 80 experts and was 10 years in the making.
It was worth the wait. It was even worth the weight. It may even be worth the price, a stiff $250. It’s a reference book that should be in every library so boaters everywhere have look-’em-up access. Not every boater will want to own a personal copy.
This masterful compilation includes designers you’ve never heard of from North America and the rest of the world along with all your favorites. No one was left out. It includes 525 designers from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. It includes designers for sail and power. It is an incredible reference tool containing an excellent index if the alphabetical presentation by name doesn’t help you find the individual you’re looking for.
I flipped through the pages in awe. You can’t just start with Bjarne Aas and read through to Douglas Zurn, as you might when reading a novel. Well, you could maybe, but I didn’t have the stamina. I’d still be on the letter D, with Oscar Wilhelm Dahlstrom, and this review would never get done!
This is a reference tool, not a novel. But it’s the most beautiful reference tool you’ll ever see. From its elegant cover to its gorgeous photos and illustrations of breathtaking beauties, it’s a heart-stopper. Paging through causes murmurs, sighs, and occasional gasps. I expect that you won’t be able to read it quietly.
This encyclopedia simply must be accessible to boaters everywhere through libraries, yacht clubs, and marina collections. Of course, it will also wind up in some private collections…possibly yours. I’m certainly not giving up MY copy! So ask your local nautical source to buy this book. Make a yacht club book fund. Talk to your local librarian.
When the Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers arrives, don’t hurt your back lifting it. Walk carefully to the closest sturdy table. Open it reverently. Try to suppress your oohs and aahhs if you’re in a library reading room. Others will be trying to concentrate on their studies, you know.
Fix It and Sail
by Brian Gilbert (International Marine, 2006; 192 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Good Old Boat author Brian Gilbert has just written the sailboat restoration book for Everyman. You may not recall him, but Everyman awoke one day after having a dream of sailing a boat of his own. His dream wasn’t of a fancy yacht, but he did want a sailboat. At Good Old Boat, we call this “the affordable dream.” In Fix it and Sail: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Restore a Small Sailboat on a Shoestring, Brian tells how to achieve the affordable dream.
Like Everyman, Brian had family responsibilities, a mortgage, car payments, and other financial obligations. So he bought a fixer-upper sailboat and fixed ‘er up. In doing so, he learned much about what not to do and discovered some clever and inexpensive ways to achieve his sailing goal.
In Fix it and Sail, Brian shares the good tips he’s learned and spells out where the pitfalls are. He is forthright in his recollections of the mistakes he made and what he learned as a result. In doing so, of course, he spares his readers from making the same discoveries the hard way. Brian is handy with tools, so don’t be misled by his tales of mistakes. These are “learning experiences” Everyman could appreciate. There are lessons for all of us in this book.
Fix it and Sail is partly a book full of fix-it tips which are applicable in a general sense to any project boat, and partly a book about the specific challenges Brian encountered with his boat, complete with details about how he solved each one. In this second case, this is a book from which a do-it-yourselfer can take heart. Brian is a regular guy, an Everyman. Nonetheless, look what he accomplished; it tells you, You can too.
This is an honest heart-to-heart sharing of what one do-it-yourselfer learned. It is accompanied by a vast section on resources that will help others who would do likewise. Brian spells out the timeframe and the costs of his project, he lists useful websites and books, and he includes a section on terminology and tips for the uninitiated.
Fix it and Sail is a you-can-do-this book. If you’ve wondered whether you’ve got the time, energy, skills, or perseverance, this is the book for you. Brian Gilbert, also known as Everyman, says yes, you do.
by Robert A. Adriance (McGraw-Hill, 2005; 274 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Greg Mansfield, Washington, No. Carolina
Here is my choice for a textbook to use in a boating safety class, because other boaters have made mistakes and we can learn from them. Seaworthy is subtitled Essential lessons from BoatU.S.’s 20-Year Case File of Things Gone Wrong. Bob Adriance edited the BoatU.S. Seaworthy newsletter for 20 years. He collected case studies from the archives and presented them in this book along with his advice and commentary.
Boating hazards from collision to lightning are covered using examples from insurance claims. The author organized the case studies by categories that include avoiding collisions, preventing fires, staying afloat, seamanship and various weather hazards such as lightning and winter storage.
Bob describes the incidents and discusses what went wrong, and what could have been done to prevent their occurrence. Many of the incidents include sobering pictures of what happened. Bob also gives advice on what we can do to better prepare ourselves to avoid becoming an insurance case. The advice he gives can help with selection of equipment, attention to maintenance, and careful operation.
I particularly appreciated the attention to securing a boat at the dock and storage on land. Many of the problems that befall our boats occur when we are not with them — four out of five sinkings happen at the dock. And improper storage during winter haulout can damage a boat and its equipment.
I really enjoyed this book and I’m sure that you will too.
a music CD by Eileen Quinn (2005; 46:26 minutes; $14.95)
Reviewed by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Mont.
After 11 years cruising with her husband aboard their Bayfield 36, Canadian singer/songwriter Eileen Quinn is still having fun…or so one hopes, despite the litany of inconveniences and troubles cited in her folksy songs about the cruising life. She’d have us believe she’s not really griping, just having fun with words and tunes and making light of the darker side of life afloat. This, her fifth CD, continues to find a little mirth in every disaster, and a little meaning in the bigger picture of why she, or any other soul out sailing, chooses to be there.
The first cut is titled “Don’t Make Me Dock,” which, unfortunately, reinforces the stereotype of the female first mate who can’t steer.
please baby please…
I am down on my knees
begging you please
please baby please don’t
don’t make me dock
But then she injects humor, and we feel relieved:
left a trail of broken pilings
and dockhands in the drink
taken [sic] out the pumpout station
raised a royal stink
Most of the other songs, however, are more introspective and wondering than in her previous four CDs. In “Going Home” she looks forward to flying home to see her mom and dad, sisters and brothers.
of all the significant others
we tell the same old stories
and roll laughing on the floor
Of course she also must endure the questions about her unconventional lifestyle, like when is she going to grow up, come home and get a “dental plan, mortgage, pension, lawn”? When she says goodbye to all at the airport, she realizes she is indeed going home — to her boat. And that’s a nice feeling, having that sort of confidence in yourself and contentment in your place.
But one begins to detect a change in Quinn’s tone, creeping into the lines here and there. In “Always a Choice,” she challenges those afraid to leave the security of their shoreside lives, as if they’re all miserable drones.
and a really bad day
hits once or twice a year
so go sit in the basement
have another beer
you’ve got yourself a mortgage
a day job, a wife
may not love it right now
but you’ve got yourself a life
but there is always a choice…
It’s easy to feel smug, sitting in the cockpit in some warm-weather anchorage, where your biggest problem is deciding whether to work on the broken water pump or just read another dime novel from the laundromat exchange. But does such a life really have more meaning than that of the husband with a mortgage? One is tempted to ask if that Bayfield 36 is free and clear.
At times, Quinn’s lyrics seem to grow strident. “Where Have All The Pirates Gone?” voices anger and a sense of betrayal by those who are no longer cruising.
Jimmy Buffett bought a trawler
he’ll talk about the seven seas
with anyone who’ll sit
by his side and buy his drinks
and buy his charming bullshit
Taken collectively, the 12 songs on Miss Inclined touch on the many aspects of cruising, from celebrating freedom from the workaday world to fearing storms to wondering why we have come to this gypsy life.
Perhaps Quinn sums it all up in her song “Cruising Too Long”:
these are the signs…
all the islands look the same
West Marine knows our name
we haven’t cut our hair this year
all our t-shirts mention beer
cruising far too long
we’ve been cruising far too long
Hey, she said it. Not me.
Eileen Quinn’s music is available online at http://www.eileenquinn.com or by calling 1-800-289-6923.
The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction
by Meade Gougeon (Gougeon Brothers, Inc., 2005; 406 pages; $36.40)
Reviewed by Joe Rahn, Lakeland Boatworks, Middleville, Mich.
The fifth edition of The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction is a comprehensive reference book that should be added to your boatbuilding library, whether you are just starting to work on your dreamboat or are a professional boatbuilder. This fifth edition by the Gougeon Brothers is based on the authors’ 30 years of practical boatbuilding experience and their own research on wood and West System epoxy formulas.
From lofting to finishing, the Gougeon Brothers’ book explains in lay terms the various elements necessary to construct a wood/epoxy boat. Alternative construction methods, such as cold molding, strip planking, and utilization of composite materials is discussed in detail so the prospective boatbuilder can understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method. By including the results of their research on the physical properties of epoxy, especially as it relates to fatigue and stress issues in wood/epoxy boats, the reader can make an informed decision as to whether a wood/epoxy vessel will perform in his or her climate and aquatic environment.
The authors use a rather unique method for estimating labor and construction costs of a planned boatbuilding project. Rather than estimate the costs in the traditional time-plus-materials formula, the Gougeon Brothers use a cost-per-pound method. While we have not used this method in our own shop before, it is certainly worth a second glance, since estimating total construction costs of a one-off project can be tricky at best.
The text is augmented by sufficient figures and charts that give the reader a step-by-step guide for laying out and putting together his or her own boat The Photo Gallery section shows, in full color, some of the finer wood/epoxy vessels designed and built by individuals known in the wooden boatbuilding trade. If you thought wood/epoxy construction was limited to stitch and glue prams and dinghies, you might be surprised to find photos of a 60-foot, 1/8-scale model of the Titanic or a sailboat boat large enough to carry a pipe organ in the aft cabin.
The fifth edition of The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction is, in my opinion, required reading for anyone considering the construction of a wooden boat that utilizes epoxy as the bonding material. This edition is comprehensive and thorough in discussing the benefits and advantages of building boats utilizing wood as the structural material and epoxy as the bonding agent. While the authors are distributors of West System epoxy resins and hardeners, the focus of the book is on the boatbuilding process as opposed to the marketing of their own brand. It will be used as a reference in our facility and should be considered a valuable manual for wooden boatbuilders, young and old, novice or professional.
Taking on the World
by Dame Ellen MacArthur (McGraw-Hill Publishers, 2005; 353 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Tom Jackson, Port Hueneme, Calif.
Even if you are one of those who know nothing about sailing, or think of sailing as “the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while going nowhere at great expense,” you will be absolutely nuts about this book. Narrated beautifully and eloquently in her own words, almost tack for tack, have your foul-weather gear handy, you’ll need it!
Since she was a little girl growing up in rural England (far from the ocean) and going on to sail around the U.K. singlehanded at the age of 19 in a 21-foot boat, this little girl dreamed large dreams. She continued on, winning the Route de Rhum, a transatlantic singlehanded race from France to the Caribbean, then to a record-setting time around the world singlehandeding in the Vende Globe, the World Series and Super Bowl of sailboat racing, then to the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest time around the world in a crewed sailboat, at the age of 22. Rushing through this book, your foul-weather gear at the ready, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Ellen MacArthur, a cute as a bug, 100-pound 22-year-old ball of fire is an almost verbatim powerful personification of the poem “If,” by Rudyard Kipling. From the first verse, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” to the last, “Yours is the earth and all that’s in it, and what is more you will be a man (woman) my son (daughter).” Great book to read on your next cruise. Especially, if you happen to be cruising the Southern California Channel Islands.
by Neal Evan Parker (Down East Books, 2004; 32 pages; $15.95)
Review by Teiga Martin (age 10), Bremen, Maine
What would you like to be when you grow up? Annabel knows that she wants to be a sailor. Any kid who is attracted to the sea will love to read Captain Annabel. It’s an excellent book for children from age 3 to third grade, sailor or non-sailor, boy or girl.
As Annabel grows up she moves from one job to the next, learning all that she can about boats. And what a great ending when Annabel pilots her new tugboat into her homeport with the name Papa painted on the bow.
The illustrations of boats are proportional and looked nice while I was reading. As Annabel grows up, it’s nice to see her father grow older with her. Also, the cameo pictures within the illustrations were cool, and the reappearing cats and seals were fun to find.
Captain Annabel is a calm book, but it is still interesting — just like the sea.
A Yachtsman’s Eye: The Glen S. Foster Collection of Marine Paintings
edited by Alan Granby (Independence Seaport Museum and W. B. Norton Co., 2005; 248 pages, $75.00)
Reviewed by Corky Rosan, Buffalo, NY
Wrestling sheets while wrestling the cancer that killed him, he’d won the international 5.5-Meter dinghy championship. He’d been a beloved force in the legendary New York Yacht Club, and a booster, adviser, and crew for America’s Cup challengers. He’d introduced America to the Finn, that most temperamental of all Olympic dinghies. He’d crewed with the famous from Conner to Coutts, competed from Stockholm to Sydney — often earning winner’s laurels — yet was never too busy or ill to consult, teach, and support in the sport he loved. Plus, Glenn S. Foster, world-class sailor, stockbroker and art connoisseur had collected a king’s ransom of marine art. He’d acquired the means, the education, and an eye as competitive in art as it was in sailing. Celebrating Foster’s unerring artistic tastes, this astonishing array of great old boats was edited by his close friend, knowledgeable art critic Alan Granby.
The term “marine art” covers a broad sea, from the angular watercolors of Marin to the dappled waterscapes of Monet, past the Dutch masters, beyond the Bayeux Tapestry, way back to the stylized fleet of a female Pharaoh four thousand years ago. But to Foster, “marine art” instead meant the past two centuries of outstanding American and British wooden boats painted in characteristic action, paintings that evoke the scent of breeze, sway of deck, creak of spar, arch of spray, and vastness of clouds — all the pleasurable details of the actual sailing experience.
Not for Foster impressionism, expressionism, abstractions, or theatrical shipwrecks, not Turner’s burnished mists or Homer’s stoic crews, nor kitsch clipper ships under clouds of sail or classic Dutch seascapes. A few pictures do show men-o’-war wreathed in fiery broadsides. But Foster preferred sunlit, well-trimmed, identifiable, accurately rigged yachts and ships in Bristol condition, often heeled under dramatic skies. Based on seamanlike knowledge, the realist artists understood rigs, knew when to reef, why to luff, what to trim, where to roost. Knowing the details of sailing helped them excel in paintings about sailing.
So, what’s not to like about this book? Nothing, unless a problem hides within the collection itself. Great art can be great marine art, but this collection is great marine art, by and large (sailor’s talk!) — but not great art, not the likes of, say, Van Gogh. Clarity of image trumps visual challenges, for Foster often preferred representational painters of memorable yachts — e.g., William Bradford, James. E. Butterworth, Robert Salmon, and Fitz Hugh Lane. This makes for a happy and gorgeous coffee-table book. While shore-bound, sailors viewing it will find hope in their dreams and pleasure in Foster’s reality. That’s why you need it.
The Last Voyage of the Karluk
by Robert Bartlett (a downloadable MP3 audiobook narrated by Frank Holden, 7 hours; Rattling Books, 2005; $24.95 US; $29.95 Can)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
This book, originally published in 1916, is Captain Bob Bartlett’s story of the loss of the sailing vessel Karluk during an arctic expedition that had begun in 1913. It is a gripping tale of being locked in the ice off north Alaska’s Point Barrow in the Beaufort Sea, about losing the ship to the ice pack well above the Arctic Circle, and about the survival activities that spared at least some of the crew.
One of the most interesting parts of this tale is the captain’s 700-mile journey in search of help. He, one other man, and a team of sled dogs crossed the frozen ocean and Siberian coast on foot. While these two are on their long trek, the remaining surviving crewmembers winter over on an island in the hope that these two will reach civilization and send a means of rescue.
Captain Bartlett tells of the Eskimos he encounters on this journey and offers observations about the slice of life as he sees it in the early 1900s. He makes vivid a Siberian Eskimo culture which is not likely to have survived to this day.
This is a downloadable MP3 audiobook that can be purchased online from Rattling Books. Rattling Books was founded in 2003 to produce new and traditional audio productions of Canadian literature. For more, visit their website http://www.rattlingbooks.com.
Well-favored Passage: The Magic of Lake Huron’s North Channel
a Cruising Guide by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom (4th edition, Sea Fever Gear Publications, 2006; 172 pages; $39.95)
Reviewed by Jim Martin, Chesterton, Ind.
Some books are written for money; some are written for love. This book was not written for money. It is a cruising guide, but far more than that. More, because the North Channel is more than a place to cruise. Marjorie Cahn Brazer, author of the first three editions, put it well: The North Channel is a state of mind. It is flight of the soul to a distant haunt — of peace, of timeliness, of mystery, of tempest, of aching beauty. This book covers all that.
Obviously, as a cruising guide, the book contains courses and distances, harbor descriptions, hazards and obstacles, prevailing weather, and the like. These are well done and comprehensive, with many splendid photos and sketches to supplement the descriptions. Together with the government charts, this book can get you through the majority of the North Channel safely, but more importantly, it will fill you with the desire to go and explore this marvelous area. While even the authors acknowledge that the Great Lakes Cruising Club log books and charts are navigationally more comprehensive, though ten times more expensive, this book contains far more of the romance of the North Channel and it is far more likely to inspire a visit. Readers who have been to the North Channel, even many times, will learn vast amounts of its history and lore, which simply cruising will never reveal to them.
The authors succeed in conveying to the readers what makes the North Channel a place that is seldom visited only once. Its beauty, its geology, its remoteness, and its people are all elements that make it what it is, and the authors include lyrical descriptions of all. Where else would you find that hawberries, and the ice cream made from them, are found only on Manitoulin Island? Or that Farquhar’s ice cream is the best in Canada? Or that Moiles Harbor is named after brothers who stole an entire sawmill? Geological history, people history, and even recipes make this book unique in comprehensively singing a hymn of praise to an area well deserving of one.
For anyone thinking of cruising the North Channel, and for anyone returning with a desire to know more about where they have been, this book is a gem.
Distant Shores: Volume 5, (Greece and Turkey, Part 2)
a DVD by Paul and Sheryl Shard (Shard Multimedia, 2005; 4 hours; $19.95 U.S., $24.95 Can)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Paul and Sheryl Shard are professional videographers who tour the world by sailboat. I’m not sure which came first: sailing and the need to record it for the rest of us, or video skills and the desire to circumnavigate, recording the voyage as they went. No matter. It was a happy concurrence of two people with good skills, a concurrence that has been well appreciated by those who have been “sailing with the Shards” since they began selling copies of their sailing productions in the late 1980s.
The newest DVD, Distant Shores: Volume 5 (Special Sailor’s Edition), is huge in many ways. There are nine busy episodes, each 30 minutes in length, along with some additional commentaries and tips. This DVD will keep you entertained for hours. The previous disks in the series include the Western Mediterranean, the Central Mediterranean, Venice and the Adriatic, and Greece and Turkey, Part 1.
The market for this DVD is much broader than our smallish sailing niche. The Shards are dedicated sailors who built their own Classic 37, Two-Step. And they are savvy marketing professionals who realize that they’re creating a travelogue series with a wider appeal than the potential sailing audience. Even the Special Sailor’s Edition version of Volume 5 is probably 90-percent travel-focused and 10-percent sailing. The travel information is, however, of great interest to sailors who will be visiting the Shards’ travel areas. Volume 5 offers what this dynamic twosome saw, where they went, and the people and events that made these places special. They offer a touch of history and cultural insight before shoving off to the next destination. It will be of interest to many whether they arrive in Greece and Turkey by sailboat, cruise ship, or airplane.
At Good Old Boat, we remind our readers (through our Cruising Memories articles, Reflections, the center spread, and so on) about the joy of sailing. In this way we all are reminded of the real reason for working on our boats: so we can sail. The Shards take it one step further. They remind us why we sail: so we can visit interesting places and meet interesting people.
With their very professional video presentations, Paul and Sheryl Shard invite us along on a world cruise. It’s a trip well worth taking. For more, visit their website at http://www.searoom.com/shard.
Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual
by Don Casey (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2005; 896 pages; $59.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards Sequim, Wash.
This is really six books in one. Five of them represent Don Casey’s considerable expertise in inspecting, maintaining and enhancing the mechanical and electrical systems of a sailboat. The sixth, a 160-page book on troubleshooting marine diesels by Peter Compton, was added for completeness. All in all, it makes a great addition to any sailor’s library.
Appropriately enough, the first “book,” titled “Inspecting the Aging Sailboat,” concludes with a nice recap on how to be your own surveyor and how to choose and work with a professional if you decide to proceed with a purchase. I really like the content and presentation of this book; it would have helped us to be better prepared for the first inspection of our boat, even though she was relatively new.
The next “books” on hull and deck repairs and refinishing are quite complete and very well illustrated. They should help give any owner the confidence to take on more and more boat projects. We all expect some age-related deterioration in our vessels and thus will expect to benefit from the sections on refinishing. We may not expect to need the stuff on major repairs to hull and deck, but it’s all there if and/or when needed.
The “book” on electronics is appropriately called “Sailboat Electrics Simplified.” Don leads off with a good note on safety and then delivers a fine primer on the basics. He continues with more details on batteries, wire and circuits, troubleshooting, charging systems and, finally, AC systems.
Peter Compton’s “book” on Troubleshooting Marine Diesels is as comprehensive as one could ever expect in a 160-page treatment. He begins with a short section on surveying the engine that will again be a great help to a first time boat buyer. The basic sub-systems of the engine are nicely treated and integrate well into the section on routine maintenance. The section on troubleshooting includes some very helpful flow diagrams to guide the reader through a logical work process.
Since the focus is on sailboats, Don finishes off with a nice section on canvaswork and sail repair.
This book will be a great addition to any sailor’s reference library. It will help any first time boat buyer be better prepared for that first detailed inspection. The clarity of writing and excellent illustrations will be appreciated by owners who want to take on more of their boat’s maintenance needs. By giving an owner a good understanding of all the steps involved in a project, this book may also help some owners decide which tasks they would prefer to hand over to a professional.
Cast Off for Catalina
a DVD directed by Ted Field and Mark Ritts (Mark Ritts Productions, Inc., 2005; 119 minutes; $29.95.)
Reviewed by Ed Verner, Plant City, Fla.
Catalina Island is 20 Miles from Long Beach, 70 miles from San Diego, and 31 miles from Marina Del Ray, California. If you have considered taking a sojourn there, this video is well worth your money. It is a professionally edited and well-photographed look at the features that would call to a boater. With pleasing narration, ambient sounds, and occasional use of music, the information is easy on the senses.
Cast Off for Catalina features an on-deck view of the island during a counter-clockwise circumnavigation, and includes information important to any boater wanting to follow in the film’s footsteps. There are clear images of notable landmarks and descriptions of the plentiful small anchorages and their holding bottoms. The harbor master of Avalon discusses the mooring amenities and protocols, and some additional features from the island’s tourist sites. There is also good footage of the wildlife and feature photography from onboard looking to shore, as well as onshore coverage of various anchorages.
The DVD, which is not a sailor’s guide per se, would be equally valuable to a powerboater, a sailor, or a tourist hopping a ferry over for a short stay. Yet it is geared toward those who would wish to be on the water, as the greater bulk of the information is shown from onboard a center cockpit split rig. Plus, some of the videography and map animations by Jack Joe are really helpful in giving a feel for “getting there” as well as what you will see when you arrive. Additional inputs from Bill McNeely, author of Cruising Catalina Island, help paint the picture of this ripe overnight sailing destination.
Voyages to Windward
by Elsie Hulsizer (Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd., 2006; 216 pages; $36.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.
The west coast of Vancouver Island is a grand, lightly visited cruising ground. Most sailors cruise this coast by doing a circumnavigation, going up the inside, and then sailing down the outside with the prevailing northwest winds abaft the beam. Elsie Hulsizer and her husband, Steve, did not have the vacation time required to do this during their working years. Instead, they would sail out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then work their way up the coast of Vancouver Island, sailing against the prevailing summer winds. Hence the title of her book.
The first nine chapters take the reader up the coast as far as the Brooks Peninsula, with chapters for each of the major sounds along the coast and Elsie and Steve’s personal experiences exploring intimate little coves, hiking up streams or walking on beaches. The final chapter, “Voyage Home,” captures the bittersweet feelings that often accompany the end of a great cruise.
Elsie is an accomplished photographer, and her pictures make this book enjoyable for a wide audience. However, what impressed me most was her deep appreciation for the history and diverse cultures of the island’s west coast. She and Steve formed strong friendships in many of the small communities along the coast; her book is further enriched by much of what they learned from these coastal residents.
We carry aboard a variety of cruising guides whenever we set sail on a cruise. At one end of the spectrum are what I think of as Pilot House Guides, the ones I reach for to refresh my memory about a tricky entrance to an anchorage or to find a protected cove nearby when the weather has turned foul. At the other end of the spectrum are the books that we read on a midwinter’s evening to begin dreaming about and planning our next cruise. Elsie’s book is a wonderful example of the latter. After reading this book, we too are now planning A Voyage To Windward.
Up the Creek: A Lifetime Spent Trying to be a Sailor
by Tony James (Seafarer Books/ Sheridan House, 2006; 279 pages; $14.95 U.S.A.; £9.95 U.K.)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon Antigo, Wisc.
As is true with many books, the last page of Up the Creek is devoted to a brief biography of author Tony James. From this we learn that Tony James is a freelance journalist and writer . . . author of over twenty books . . . writes regularly for thirty publications worldwide . . . (and) still doesn’t really know why he goes sailing. In the Foreword Stephen Swann states that James’ book is a kind of sailing memoir. Indeed it is. It recounts how his life has: A) revolved around boats since the age of eighteen; B) landed him in some relationships that were headed for the rocks from the get-go; and C) given him something to write about.
James’ first boat occupied a space in his parent’s garden and never saw water as long as he owned it. But the dream was there. After sailing on other people’s boats for a number of years he managed to acquire the first boat that he actually sailed. Built in 1900, Shamrock was a sixty-foot oyster dredger that had been extensively refitted and restored by the time James became its owner. Many years, boats, and misadventures later, James bought Kittiwake, and finally had what he calls a sensible boat that can be sailed easily and safely. What happened between Shamrock and Kittiwake fills in the rest of the story and helps the reader realize that it’s no wonder James doesn’t know why he sails.
The book is written in the first person, obviously, and at times seems a bit difficult to follow. This may be due to the fact that James is from England and the English writing style itself is somewhat different from that of American writers. In addition, the British sense of humor is a bit more tongue-in-cheek than what we’re used to in the U. S. But if one is willing to overlook these minor obstacles, Up the Creek can provide the reader with some food for thought as he/she is reminded of his/her own errors in thinking when it comes to matters nautical and personal.
Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners
by United States Power Squadrons (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2006; 160 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Glenn Kaufmann, Bloomington, Ind.
The first watercraft were probably rafts made from fallen logs tied together with primitive rope and knots.
This early quote in the United States Power Squadrons’ (USPS) new book on marlinespike seamanship makes it clear that the unspoken foundation of sailing is rope, the control of which is bought and paid for with knots. As a non-profit educational organization with 92 years of experience and the stated mission of making boating safer and more enjoyable, the USPS seems the perfect organization to develop a book focused on knots and rope work specifically for sailors.
With sheets, lines, halyards, painters, bell and bucket ropes everywhere, there are countless ways ropes and knots are used aboard any vessel. This new book covers them all, if not specifically by name, most certainly by application. Designed for anyone who needs to practice their knot work with a constant eye on the diagrams, the publisher has thoughtfully given the book a spiral binding so it will lie flat. The drawings are generous in size, and clearly marked, with each knot broken down into manageable components.
It is, in fact, the discussion of these components that is the book’s greatest asset. By providing a clear understanding of bitter ends, working ends, bights, turns, and loops, the reader walks away with the building blocks and understanding necessary to not only reproduce any knot, but to understand why it is a good fit for a particular application.
With constant references to the onboard, dockside, or safety applications of every knot, the book carefully shows how each knot, from the practical to the merely decorative, can be realistically applied to the reader’s own needs. The section on splicing/rope repair, often given short shrift in other books, is presented in a manner that highlights the importance of proper line maintenance and repair. Finally, the section on decorative knot work offers sound advice for tidying up your lines and generally putting your boat in Bristol condition.
Whether you are a novice sailor, or an old salt looking for a few new tricks, Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners is a great way to develop and improve your understanding of how knots and ropes work on your boat. The clear and concise diagrams make it easy to use and maintain the gear you’ve already got in ways that will keep you safe and save you time and money down the road.
Ice Blink: A Family Navigating Life’s Ice-Clogged Waters
a DVD produced by Gregory Roscoe (SeaWorthy Productions, 2006; 56:11 minutes; $17.95; http://www.iceblinksail.com)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
“Ice blink” is a name given to a white light seen on the horizon, especially on the underside of low clouds, due to reflection from a distant field of ice. This phenomenon has been used historically by the Inuit and northern explorers when navigating in polar regions.
Dave and Jaja Martin and their three children are modern northern explorers who traveled to Iceland and Norway on their 33-foot sailboat, Driver. They wrote a book about their four-year voyage, Into the Light: A Family’s Epic Journey. And now Gregory Roscoe, a friend and fellow sailor, has produced a DVD about this adventuresome family and named it Ice Blink: A Family Navigating Life’s Ice-Clogged Waters.
What a story it tells! Like the icebergs that surrounded them north of the Arctic Circle, there is more to the Martins than you might expect at first glance. They are not your typical sailors. They are not your typical parents. In fact, they are not your typical anything. And they’re proud of that. “We chose ‘different’ when making life’s choices,” they tell us in the movie. “If people say, ‘That’s impossible,’ we know we’re on the right track,” they say with the certainty that has come of experience.
Dave and Jaja are the sort of people who have gone beyond “the road less taken.” Since they married in 1988, they have been cutting a brand-new path for themselves and their children. All young people should view this DVD as they contemplate their future. It emphasizes, in a positive way, that if they are as creative as the Martins, they have many options in life they may not have considered, choices which counselors and parents could never suggest — choices that may make all the difference in their enthusiasm for living each day fully. Dave and Jaja Martin tell anyone who will listen that if they are creative and motivated, they need not become cogs; life can be a joyful adventure. It is not too late for those of us who have chosen more conventional paths to watch, learn, and enjoy the story of Dave and Jaja Martin…and perhaps even make course corrections in our own lives.
A very polished narrator tells us that the Martins are a conventional family doing unconventional things. Even now that they are land-based, having settled temporarily in Maine, the Martins are designing and building their own home. They have chosen a simple lifestyle because material possessions are not what motivate them. The Martins are not defined by what they have but rather by what they have done. There’s an important message in those words, a message that should be heard by people of all ages.
The Martins talk about what motivates them and about their travels afloat. They talk about goals and self-sufficiency. They say life is a blank canvas to be filled joyfully. Not someday. Now. They talk about making their own choices, not those dictated by the expectations of others. They talk about the role of spontaneity in their lives. And they talk about the reality of storms, occasional deprivations, and fear. Living aboard in polar regions has its discomforts, to be sure, but having gone through the low points makes the beauty of the region and the joy of the high points all the better. The necessity of personal expense and sacrifice, they tell us, make the rewards of every achievement much sweeter.
Ice Blink has relevance for people of all ages, sailors and non-sailors alike. It is a top-rate production by a professional videographer who we are proud to say just happens to be a good old boater.
Myth, Fact, and Navigators’secrets: Incredible Tales of the Sea and Sailors
by J. Gregory Dill, (The Lyons Press, 2006; 224 pages; $15.95)
Reviewed by Don Chambers, Lawrence, Ks.
Here is a little book with an assortment of sixty or so light stories from the nautical world. There is history, both sublime and ridiculous, modern and not; stories of steam and sail, and wonderful nautical silliness. Written with an appealing, tight, light touch, there aren’t many duds.
I learned some interesting things from this book, little mysteries such as how a bosun’s pipe actually works; that Port Royal in Jamaica had an earthquake in 1692 that destroyed all the Port buildings and 2000 people. I learned how tillers were developed from oars; and about the seven-masted schooner Lawson, the “most-masted” ship in history.
Perhaps Hemingway fans knew about his nutty plan during World War II to turn his wooden fishing boat, Pilar, into a submarine hunter by mounting hidden .50-caliber machine guns on it, expecting to surprise and gun down the submarine crew when they surfaced to inspect his boat. It will stay with me as the best example of how someone can be brilliant but breathtakingly wrong. This book is worthwhile reading for those interested in sea-oddities that you’re not likely to come across in other places.
Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat, Third edition
by Daniel Spurr (McGraw Hill, 2006; 392 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by James Williams, Los Altos, Calif.
Upgrading a good old sailboat can be a game of cat and mouse. As you wriggle into seldom visited corners of your boat, it’s hard to keep up with all the little unforeseen projects that present themselves to you. This third edition of Daniel Spurr’s Guide will be a real help to do-it-yourself sailors. And following the cat and mouse that Bruce Bingham has sketched into his wonderful drawings will be great entertainment for you and your family.
There are a lot of books available to sailors wanting to improve their boats, but Spurr’s Guide is one of the most readable and practical. Clarity is at the top of the list for me, and Spurr surely provides this. His concise commentary on strengthening and maintaining chainplates, for example, is among the most comprehensible I’ve ever read. Case studies of his work on boats are well-illustrated and easy to follow — even if you hire the work out, at least you’ll get a good sense of what you’re in for before the process begins.
Ideally, boatbuilding is one of those arts that improves over time as builders learn from their mistakes. Of course, we know that builders and consumers inevitably reach compromises, and Spurr offers good suggestions to correct weaknesses in boats compromised by the marketplace. Strengthening weakly supported dinette tables is just one case in point. They should be able to withstand the rigors of offshore life and, as my wife says, withstand a little table dancing at anchor.
Several chapters have been updated and reorganized for this new edition of Spurr’s Guide, which makes it a better book overall. For example, Spurr nicely filled out the chapter on instruments and the electrical system by adding sections on email, weather and time, EPIRBs, and radar. But the addition of forty-three pages of drawings and brief comments on seventy “good old boats” that one might choose for off-shore cruising seems rather an add-on.
Nevertheless, Spurr brings years of experience reviewing boat systems and products as editor of Practical Sailor and senior editor of Cruising World. This significantly enriches his work and is the Guide’s great strength. He has compared and tested a lot of boat products in his time, and he generally discusses products without prejudice to producers. To be sure, his product recommendations occasionally seem a bit uneven, such as his highlighting the Max-Prop feathering propeller, while making no mention at all to the arguably superior feathering props from VariProp or Martec. But these sorts of slips are few.
If you’re planning to upgrade and outfit a sailboat for off-shore cruising, whether you do the work yourself or not, you should get Spurr’s Guide, read it, and keep it handy. Get it, if only for the “Disaster Checklist” (p. 86), which is sound advice for any boatowner who drifts along a coastal waterway.
Ted Hood: Through Hand and Eye
by Ted Hood and Michael Levitt (Mystic Seaport, 2006; 199 pages; $50.oo)
Reviewed by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Montana
When one hears Ted Hood’s name, the first connection is quite likely to Hood Sails, the loft he founded back in the 1960s and which remains a force in that industry, though Ted has had no connection to it for many years. In fact, he has been much more than a sailmaker. Once one begins counting his many achievements, it quickly becomes evident that he’s one of the most influential sailors of all time: keen racer, including winner of the 1974 America’s Cup (aboard Courageous), equipment inventor and innovator, designer, boat builder, and of course, sailmaker.
Now 79, in 13 chapters (with lots of great old photos) he looks back over his sailing life, and not much deeper. His personal life remains just that. Still, he talks (and I say “talks” because the book is written as if he dictated the text for co-author Mike Levitt to organize and clean up) about his childhood in Danvers, Massachusetts, and the inventiveness of his grandfather and father, the latter an electrical, chemical and mechanical engineer affectionately known as “The Professor,” who later would play an important role in the development of Hood sailcloth.
By his own admission, Ted was more adept in his father’s workshop than at school. The family had boats, wood in those days, and Ted grew up not only sailing them, but repairing them as well. His father told a writer from the New Yorker this story about his son:
Once, we had to fit a new garboard plank to Shrew [an R boat]. It was a really tricky place with all kinds of curves and twists and bevels—the sort of place where an average shipwright would ruin two or three planks before he got the right fit. Ted looked at it, planed the wood, looked at it again and did some more planing. Then he put it to the hull, and it went in perfectly.
That seems to sum up much of his life in boats — always finding the perfect fit. He built his first boat at 12 and checked out Gray’s Sailmaking from the library to figure out how to make sails for it. Therein began a long and self-taught investigation into the art and science of sails. Just a junior in high school, in 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Afterwards, he flirted with sailmaking for a short time before making a commitment to the profession in 1950. His first “loft” was not auspicious: sewing sails in his bedroom on his grandmother’s 50-year-old Singer sewing machine. But if his worksite was unimpressive, the products of his labors were, and gradually Ted built a reputation as a first-rate sailmaker. Compressed rings and the crosscut spinnaker with wide shoulders were two of his innovations. What else soon set him apart from the competition was deciding to weave his own sailcloth. The first looms were set up in 1952 using DuPont’s recently introduced Orlon, and later Dacron (polyester). Hood sailcloth was more tightly woven than other cloths, and therefore believed to be superior. It didn’t hurt that Ted’s father, Stedman, was an expert in fiber technology.
Five chapters are devoted to Twelve Meters and the America’s Cup. Ted’s involvement included supplying sails, crewing on Vim (1958), designing and campaigning Nefertiti in 1962, and eventually skippering Courageous to victory over Australia’s Southern Cross in 1974. Whether you like racing or not, these detailed accounts of the yachts, the sails, the crews and the tactics are fascinating, as only they could be, coming from an insider.
Ted’s signature yacht design is a moderately heavy displacement hull form with generous beam for excellent form stability. A good example was the 60-foot American Promise, which in 1986 Dodge Morgan sailed solo non-stop around the world in a then-record time of 150 days. Ted built the boat as well, at his Marblehead yard.
He continues to this day designing and building boats in the U.S., Asia and Europe. It’s almost as if he can’t help himself. Early in his autobiography he notes that his parents didn’t take him sailing until he was a month old. Refusing to retire, he jokes that he’s been trying his entire life to make up for that month lost.
by Ferenc Máté (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006; 288 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Cindy Christian Rogers, Minneapolis, Minn.
Ferenc Máté is perhaps best-known to good old sailors for his “best boats” books, in which he describes classic designs as eloquently as he might describe living beings. In Ghost Sea, he turns his talents to fiction, populating a rugged and mysterious landscape with human characters, while still displaying his flair for the nautical.
Set along the British Columbian coastline about a century ago, the story centers around Dugger, an outlaw coastal trader who is hired to teach Katherine, a wealthy man’s wife, to sail. The two become lovers, which complicates Dugger’s next job: to navigate 200 miles of uncharted shoreline to save her from two native warriors who have taken her hostage. Dugger finds himself aboard his ketch with Hay, the husband; Nello, a half-native, half-Italian first mate; and Charlie, a Chinese cook. They enter a world fraught with unexpected dangers and murderous enemies. The outcome isn’t certain until the final pages.
The novel recreates the world of the Kwakiutl Nation, a tribe reputed to practice cannibalism, orgies and torture, and hallucinatory potlatches. Máté extensively researched its culture; he spent years sailing the Kwakiutl Islands and visiting long-abandoned villages. His firsthand knowledge imbues the narrative with compelling context and reminds readers that clashes of culture have two sides.
Detailed descriptions and insightful metaphors sustain the title’s motif: a hard wind carves “six-foot waves as steep as tombstones” and nighttime sounds “can drive you mad when you’re sailing in the dark, when the hiss of the bow wake becomes sighs of the long-drowned” The author also captures the joy of sailing: “The canvas bulged, the sheets quivered, and a halyard slatted, keeping time against the mast, and I braced my foot in the cockpit corner, clutched the spokes of the wheel, and for a moment forgot about Hay below and Katherine up ahead, forgot my debts and even the South Seas — I was sailing.”
Máté’s novel has attracted kudos from the likes of Walter Cronkite and John Rousmaniere, who have called it “a gripping story” and “an action-packed sea adventure,” respectively. The story does hurtle along; at times the pace can make it difficult to follow the action, especially in the final chapters. Also at times the characters border on stereotype, although there are surprises: two persons onboard are not what they seem to be. All in all, however, Ghost Sea is a rollicking fiction debut.
Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, Fl
by Mark and Diana Doyle (Semi-local Publications, 2006; 220 pages; $24.95; Good Old Boat readers will receive a 20% discount on their products. When ordering, use the code 0GOODOLDBO26267)
Reviewed by Vern Hobbs, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Mark and Diana Doyle, authors of Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, FL, point out that no less than 882 islands make up the Florida Keys. There have probably been just as many cruising guides written about this alluring chain of islands, but this one offers a fresh, new approach.
Mark and Diana address the mariner’s needs with their innovative “cruisers’ triangle,” a concept derived from the theories of famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow. Safety issues such as navigation, weather, and availability of anchorages and marinas are addressed first, at the bottom of the triangle. Comfort concerns, such as provisioning, follow at the next level as the triangle is ascended. Finally, tips on how to gain an appreciation of the locale through which you are sailing are detailed at the top of the triangle.
To achieve these objectives, Managing the Waterway employs an unconventional format. A rolling header across the top of each page lists pertinent navigational information, including the nearest Coast Guard station, the NOAA weather broadcast channel with the strongest signal, towboat operators in the proximity, and a synopsis of piloting details presented on the page. The outermost column of each page provides a highly detailed navigation log, designed to be followed from top to bottom by southbound voyagers, and bottom to top by those heading north.
The remaining columns satisfy the comfort and appreciation aspects of the cruisers’ triangle, with precise directions to shoreside services including markets, chandleries, banks, post offices, and medical and veterinary clinics. Also included is a wealth of information about local historical sights, cultural events, and the native wildlife.
Throughout the text, small lightbulb icons annotate helpful tips. Some are regionally specific, such as cautions about anchoring near coral or sea-grass beds, while others offer general maintenance suggestions or product endorsements.
Over forty pages of NOAA chart reproductions, with overlays of navigation data, are mirrored by county land maps denoting useful shoreside amenities. To ensure this constantly changing material stays fresh, the publisher offers bi-annual e-mail updates.
Managing the Waterway is not an armchair book. It is an essential cockpit reference, which combines, in one easy-to-use guide, the necessary information required for safe passage, while also providing a fount of local knowledge often omitted from more traditional publications. This marriage of convenience is well-designed and certain to ensure a far richer experience cruising the Florida Keys.
It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water
by Suzanne Giesemann ( Paradise Cay, 2006; 240 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Why is it that men predominate among sailors? Sailing a boat doesn’t take superior strength. It doesn’t demand a uniquely male skill. Having a Y chromosome is not required. Sailing isn’t about Mars and Venus. Suzanne Giesemann knows this and has become a one-woman band with the goal of bringing equality to our favorite recreational activity.
Suzanne’s new book, It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, was created in the hope of drawing more women into sailing . . . because they want to be there with their sailing partners . . . because they enjoy being outside on the water . . . because they love the lifestyle . . . because they are fully engaged and interested in the adventure of moving a sailboat from one place to another, perhaps from one country to another or one continent to another.
Call it an “Atta-Girl” book, if you will. Suzanne’s message is clear: other women do this; you can too. Here’s what you need to know. Let me talk you through this, sailor to sailor and woman to woman. Here are the skills you will need to keep yourself and your boat safe. Here are the vocabulary words and basics that will prevent you from feeling or looking out of place. Go out and practice. The rest of us will be cheering for you. Go get ’em, girl!
This book is divided into several sections. Part 1 deals with the concepts of women and boats as well as attitude and adventure. Here Suzanne invites her readers to join those of us who have already discovered the sailing lifestyle. Part 2 discusses the skills, debunks the mysteries, and prioritizes the basics. The author explains that there’s always more to learn, but here’s a good start. Part 3 focuses on handling the boat as a couple and having a full-fledged partnership in buying, owning, and managing a boat. She includes helpful information in the appendices. Perhaps best of all, this book opens with a foreword by Lin Pardey, a woman who has been actively sailing for 40 years. Lin tells of her own moment of truth: the day when she “truly realized that Seraffyn was my boat too.”
Wanting to become accomplished at anything that takes a bit of skill is 99-percent about attitude. It’s not easy for a female adult to make the inevitable mistakes that come with learning. It’s far worse to make these mistakes in a public place, such as a marina or anchorage. It’s humiliating if her husband or partner is unsympathetic. But as long as she still has a glimmer of interest in sailing, Suzanne can provide the female perspective and beginning skills the would-be sailor needs.
It wouldn’t hurt for any male sailor with a reluctant spouse to read It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water. He should consider buying a copy for his wife or partner, if she doesn’t go out and get it first. After all, it’s her boat too. Helping her turn the corner from reluctant to enthusiastic will improve the time spent aboard for both members of any sailing couple.
The Voyages of Fishers Hornpipe
by Reuel B. Parker (Parker Marine Enterprises, 2006; 252 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Richard Smith, Indianola, Wash.
L. Francis Herreshoff, in his introduction to The Compleat Cruiser, holds that there is no better way of instructing than “carrying on a narrative.” Parker’s story revisits 1970’s America and one man who, after Vietnam, finds solace in a California commune and redemption in building and cruising a ferrocement sailboat called Fishers Hornpipe — a fifty-four foot, Patrick Cotton-designed cutter — as beautiful as it is well found.
Thanks to Parker’s uncommon candor, we learn how Fishers Hornpipe works from a fly-in-the-cockpit perspective, wherein the nature of friendship, love, and sexuality is described with the same penchant for authenticity and detail as reefing too late.
Members of Parker’s illustrious and ever-changing crew are nautical equivalents of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters — young men and women with a devil-may-care zest for life that was unique to sailing during that decade or two that had many Americans reeling from a loss of confidence in authority and conventional lives.
We watch adventure-prone novices falling in and out of love with each other between tides, when they make sail changes and paint bottoms, bleed injectors at sea, anchor and drag and anchor well. We watch them navigate in the old way, anxiously piloting through coral heads to reach a safe harbor and struggle with the vagaries of customs martinets. Euphoria and unrequited love tumble in their bow waves and follow in their wake.
Parker takes us from California’s Half Moon Bay to Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal and into the islands of the Caribbean. We sail up to Florida, haltingly navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, and skirt the Gulf Stream to Maine. In spite of or, as Herreshoff would have it, because of the story that has us in its grip, we learn a lot.
Parker’s is a holistic view of life at sea — a life that sees boats as things that shape us just as surely as we shape them. He is a man who loves boats and everything that goes with them. And I mean everything. He doesn’t sacrifice truth to propriety, keeping “personal accounts” that will embarrass some and shock a few. But they are never gratuitous accounts and will interest those who wonder at the sea and its secrets.
The charts are refreshingly abundant as cruising narratives go. They are extremely helpful and well-integrated with the text. The frustration of constant back-and-forthing is unnecessary; what you want to see is right there next to the paragraph. Photographs are similarly unified and welcome the reader aboard; I found myself referring to them often and closely.
A Race for Real Sailors: Bluenose and the International Fishermen’s Cup, 1920-1938
by Keith McLaren (David R. Godine Publisher, 2006; 250 pages; $40.00)
Reviewed by Michael Maxfield, Gatesville, Tex.
By the early 1900s the U.S. and Canadian Grand Banks fishing schooners were among the last all-sail commercial fleets left in the western world. The lives of these fishermen were hard, cold, and dangerous. But these were hard, rough men, and they sailed their boats that way. Whenever two boats met, while going to or from the fishing grounds, it turned into an impromptu race. Gale-force winds were common occurrences in the North Atlantic, and racing in 30- to 40-knot winds simply added more fun and excitement for these guys as they bent on every inch of canvas they could.
In July 1920, the British (Shamrock IV) and Americans (Resolute) faced off for the America’s Cup. With the races tied 2 to 2, the fifth and final race was met with great excitement and expectation by watchers and racers alike. The race committee caused a great uproar by postponing the final race due to 20-knot winds. (The last race was held two days later to little fanfare.)
“Old salts and fishermen . . . want to see a real race — not a lady-like saunter of fair-weather freaks” read an article in the Halifax Herald. And from this ensuing hue and cry was born the International Fishermen’s Cup, “a race for real sailors” that promised the excitement and drama the America’s Cup race lacked.
The precursor race was held off Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 1, 1920, with nine Canadian boats racing. It was such a huge hit that the race committee issued a challenge to the Americans for a one-on-one race to be held October 30, 1920. The American schooner, Esperanto, set sails against Nova Scotia’s Delawana, and the first IFC went to the Americans.
The Canadian schooner, Bluenose, was launched March 26, 1921. The boat was so-named because the people of Nova Scotia were known on the East Coast as “bluenosers.” She was purpose-built to beat the Americans, and she dominated the races. This was a legendary series of races, especially in Canada, where a likeness of the Bluenose graces the back of the Canadian dime.
A Race for Real Sailors bills itself as a “fair and even-handed account” of this often contentious and often canceled race, and it lives up to that claim. This is an oversized coffee-table style book, liberally illustrated throughout with black-and-white photos, as well as a helpful glossary, maps, and appendix.
For anyone interested in the evolution, working and racing of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, this book is packed with all the information you could want. But if your interest is in light, entertaining sailing adventure stories, you should look elsewhere.
The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat
by Jack Becker (Sheridan House, 2006; 192 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
You’re going to like Jack Becker. He doesn’t match the stereotypical sailor profile. He’ll leave you wondering why he’s made the choices he has. And when he succeeds against the odds, you’ll cheer this intelligent, honest, and personable man who is in the process of becoming a sailor the hard way. You’ll get to know — and like — Jack by reading his new book, The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat.
Apparently no one ever told Jack the meaning of the word “impossible” and so, with an incredibly supportive wife, he took on the restoration of a large 70-year-old wooden sailboat. He did it in two years (working right through one Minnesota winter) with what can only be described as lightning speed. Then he wrote a book about it. And he didn’t even know how to sail. What was he thinking?
Lucky for him and for his readers, who are soon rooting for him, Jack understood wooden boats. He’d restored and cruised aboard two beautiful powerboats. The first was a 1938 40-foot Matthews. That sounds ambitious until you hear what followed: an 85-foot commuter yacht built by Luders Marine in 1926. He and his young family lived aboard and chartered this boat for four-hour cruises on Lake Union in Seattle. So he surely knew what he was getting into, didn’t he?
Years went by. It was time for another boat, and this time Jack fell in love with a 42-foot racing sailboat drawn by Norman Dallimore and built in England in 1937. She was more than just a little run down and had been abandoned in the Chesapeake Bay area when Jack discovered her for sale on the Internet, trucked her home to Minnesota, then learned that wooden boats are unwelcome in many marinas and that a deep draft of seven feet will present problems in most of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. But he solved these problems and many more. Jack Becker thinks outside the box.
There is an artist in the soul of this man. He admits it. I suspect it was the artist who caused him to take a hard left turn from powerboat to sailboat, from urban dweller to boatyard bum, and from stable, predictable Jack to, well, something else entirely in the eyes of his friends and family. His concept of the left turn is hilarious. Left turns are those moments in life when an individual makes a totally unpredictable, illogical choice . . . and changes his life in a small way, or possibly profoundly. So it was that Jack Becker took on the restoration of Lilibet. You’ll enjoy his telling of her restoration. But he ends too soon. I have got to know: did the eventual sailing make it all worthwhile?
Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas
by Beth Leonard (International Marine, 2007; 179 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Beth Leonard’s pen is magic. She is able to write as few others can. Better yet for sailors everywhere, she goes to the ends of the earth in order to have strong subject matter to present.
Over the years, in her previous books, Beth has told us how to go cruising and she’s told us why. Her how-to book, The Voyager’s Handbook, has just come out in a new, fatter, second edition. In contrast, Blue Horizons is another book about why . . . why go cruising . . . why go to the high latitudes of the Arctic and then to the Southern Ocean with its great capes . . . why not sip margaritas in paradise?
In their first three-year 36,000-mile circumnavigation, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger cruised in paradise. Then they went home, sold the boat, dusted off their hands, went back to work, and were instantly consumed by regrets. Beth tells us, “Life ashore seemed dull, monochrome. Something was missing.” Since their favorite cruising areas had been the temperate latitudes, rather than the tropics, they embarked on a more challenging high-latitude circumnavigation after first building the aluminum sloop capable of taking them there.
Long passages give this insightful sailor ample opportunity to be alone with her thoughts, which then flow out onto paper through that magic pen of hers. She writes of relationships with and memories of family and friends, of experiences afloat, of safety at sea, and of the pleasures and pains of passage. Her philosophical musings pour forth on page after page.
A portion of the book depicts the bonding process between two dominant personalities who have spent a large percentage of the last decade confined to a relatively small space. Over time, her side of the relationship has evolved through power struggle to acceptance, to pleased contentment, and finally to absolute satisfaction with the life she leads and the bonds she and Evans have forged.
In this book, as she contemplates high-latitude sailing, Beth tells us that life is an investment. You get out of it what you put into it. The best cruising experiences come at a price. You can’t experience the Arctic Circle’s summer solstice (the one day the sun doesn’t set on the Arctic Circle) without doing some uncomfortable high-latitude sailing to get there. But the memory is priceless. It’s these character-building experiences that mold and shape us and provide the memories we treasure.
Beth summarizes the voyaging life like this: “It is a life of limitless possibilities, endless opportunities, and continuous renewal. The sea tests us constantly, demanding we learn new skills and don’t get complacent about old ones . . . The other sailors we meet humble us. Some have overcome great odds to be out here; others quietly and competently complete epic voyages without fanfare or recognition . . . If there is one thing that our years aboard Hawk and Silk have taught us, it is that ordinary, everyday people do the most extraordinary, inspirational things.”
For more magic from this pen, pick up a copy of Blue Horizons and other books by Beth Leonard.
Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts
by Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications LLC, 2006; 2 DVDs; $39.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Mark and Diana Doyle, bless ’em, are a couple of sailors who re-invented the cruising guide when they put together the book they’d like to see while cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. Another guide followed, with more in the works. (Once started, it seems they can’t help themselves.)
As it stands right now, they’ll take you from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to the Dry Tortugas beyond Key West. Their company, called semi-local publications, with the tagline “books for the wandering soul,” has become something of a phenomenon among those transiting the ICW.
But this cruising couple really created a winner when they compiled an inexpensive DVD set that includes the latest version of each chart you’ll need to cruise all the waters in the U.S. and possessions, including the inland trails, such as the Mississippi River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway. “Sure,” you say, “all the NOAA charts are available for free download.” Indeed they are. Where do you think Mark and Diana get them?
The magic in what these two do for you for $39.95 is this: they do all the downloading of those large raster and vector files and organize them in nine geographic cruising regions so you can find what you’re looking for. What’s your time worth, after all? You could go rooting around on the NOAA website and do the endless downloads yourself. Or for just under $40 you can buy a two-disc set, which will give you the latest versions, compact and organized.
Called Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts, the set includes more than 3,000 charts. This includes the harbor charts and other incidental charts that you might not bother with if you had to buy each chart or download it individually. It will cover you if you choose to go somewhere unplanned at the last minute. It will provide charts for dreaming. With apologies to Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
The chart set includes Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs), vector Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs), and vector Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENCs). Mark and Diana tell us these charts are compatible with all leading manufacturers of charting and navigation software. I believe them because they work even with my Macintosh, which runs our boat’s electronic software using GPSNavX. Other compatible applications include Fugawi, Nobeltec, The Capn, Coastal Explorer, Maptech, MacENC, Raymarine, Furuno, SeaClear, Global Navigation, and others.
In fact, the DVD set includes a growing list of free and trial software for PC and Mac so you can try out charting and navigation applications if you’re new to electronic charting, or considering changing programs. And last, but certainly not least, Managing the Waterways: Electronic Charts includes searchable government publications such as Coast Pilots, Light Lists, and Chart No. 1. Now you can quickly look up an obscure chart symbol or read recommendations for entering an inlet or unfamiliar harbor. There’s no excuse for sailing around without the backup of paper charts, even if you prefer electronic navigation. But since Mark and Diana will annually catalog and update their latest offering, Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts, you won’t need to replace your paper charts as frequently (paper chart purchases continue to be an expensive and daunting endeavor). Now that someone has made all the U.S. charts and government publications this accessible, the electronic software and hardware folks should be thrilled. With the help of the U.S. government, Mark and Diana Doyle have made electronic charting convenient, affordable, and available for “the rest of us.”
The Barefoot Navigator: Navigating with the skills of the ancients
by Jack Lagan (Sheridan House, 2006; 148 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.
The author assures the reader in his Introduction, that “This book is not a rant against modern technology.” Rather, it ” . . . renews emphasis on personal skills, special knowledge and the use of the senses . . . ” In this regard, his book is clearly of value to coastal cruisers and passagemakers alike, although the sections that describe techniques for “No-Tech” and “Low-Tech” navigation will primarily benefit the passagemaker.
The first section of this book is a fine, concise review of the navigation skills and accomplishments of earlier mariners: the Pacific Islanders; the Vikings; Pharaohs and Phoenicians; the Arabs, and finally, the Chinese. The Polynesian navigators’ ability to carry in their minds a chart of their world and the sailing instructions for passages among the many known islands is awe-inspiring. Their associated ability to track the motion of their vessel through this mental chart is equally impressive. For me, this planted a sort of subliminal message from the author that surely we modern navigators should be able to improve our dead reckoning through more attentive use of our senses.
Part two of this book, Practical No-Tech Navigation, teaches a variety of techniques for determining heading, estimating latitude, and for detecting the presence of land. As the author succinctly puts it, this section ” . . . is about what you can see and what is in your head.” The what’s-in-your-head bit is a recurring theme in this book.
The third section, Do-it-Yourself Lo-Tech Navigation, introduces a number of simple tools to greatly improve knowledge of heading and position (latitude and longitude) in combination with some “special” knowledge. In particular, the navigator needs to know the annual variation of the sun’s declination in order to determine latitude from a noon sight. They also need to know the equation of time (i.e., the systematic variation of local noon throughout the year) to determine longitude with a quartz watch set to Greenwich Mean Time. The author includes a little poem to help remember the maximum and minimum values for the equation of time. He also provides convenient tables for both parameters on his website, which can be downloaded and included in the navigator’s emergency kit.
This book is nicely illustrated and extensively annotated. It also includes a useful appendix of websites that range from Celestial Navigation to the History of Cartography. This book will be a good read for any mariners who enjoy the art and science of navigation.
Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure: San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas & First Summer in the Sea of Cortez: Cabo San Lucas to Isla Coronados /
65 Days Alone at Sea
on DVD, by Greg and Jill Delezynski (CustomFlix,2006; 84 minutes; $29.95 & CustomFlix, 2006; 88 minutes; $29.95) / by Bernie Harberts (RiverEarth Publishing, 2006; 72 minutes; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
What’s new? DVDs of sailors’ cruises seem to be the latest thing showing up in the Good Old Boat office. There’s a trend here. More people are publishing their own books (books-on-demand technology). More people are producing their own radio shows (podcasts). More people are publishing their own opinions (blogs). More people are distributing their own music and audiobooks, such as the Good Old Boat audiobooks (using MP3). And more people are creating and releasing their own movies (on DVDs).
In the last month we’ve received DVDs from a couple cruising the West Coast from San Francisco to the Sea of Cortez, and a solo sailor who crossed the Atlantic from South Africa to the Virgin Islands. We’re aware of more on the way. This is just the beginning.
Heading south on the West Coast, While they were preparing for a retirement spent chasing the distant horizon, Greg and Jill Delezynski and their Nor’Sea 27 were featured in the November 2002 issue of Good Old Boat. Greg also wrote and published four or five articles about the projects he completed on Guenevere, the Nor’Sea 27. Then one day they stopped talking and writing about it and started living it. They untied the docklines and went south to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Peninsula and north into the Sea of Cortez.
Just because they weren’t sending articles our way, however, didn’t mean they weren’t busy out there. Greg had discovered the exciting potential of video recorders and decided to take the rest of us (family, friends, and fellow cruisers) along with them as these two lived their dream. Now they have published the first two of what is likely to become a full set of DVDs on our shelf: part video adventure, part cruising guide, and part commentary about the cruising life.
The titles of the DVDs tell you the content: Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure and Guenevere’s First Summer in the Sea of Cortez. The first covers nautical miles 0 to 1,559, ending, as you’d expect, at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula. The second covers miles 1,559 to 2,198, and covers their explorations of the Sea of Cortez, and there’s much left to be seen. Further videos will be forthcoming. Count on it.
If you have ever wanted to know what the trip down the West Coast is like, Greg and Jill fill you in on the details in a most pleasant and professional way. We were so impressed with the quality of these first two productions that we’ve asked Greg to write another article for Good Old Boat: one telling the rest of us how to make DVDs of our own cruising experiences.
Meanwhile, in the Atlantic Ocean . . ., Bernie Harberts’ DVD is a variation on this theme. In 65 Days Alone at Sea he shows us what it’s like to sail more than 6,000 miles in the South Atlantic as a solo sailor. On this two-month voyage he climbs the mast and shoots the boat while barreling along in the trade winds. He jumps into the dinghy and shoots photos of Sea Bird, his 1984 Colvin cutter, while it’s becalmed. He films from the end of the bowsprit. He tells about fishing and drying his catch. He celebrates crossing the Greenwich Meridian. He manages to include himself in many of the scenes, a trick in itself for a solo sailor, since the camera is not stationary during these sequences.
Bernie is an imaginative adventurer who completed a circumnavigation on Sea Bird when, in 2003, he fetched up in Oriental, North Carolina at the end of the voyage depicted in this DVD. Prior to the circumnavigation he spent a year walking across the continental U.S. with a mule and a pony, and is currently planning a similar expedition (from Mexico to Canada) with a mule team and wagon. (Something about swallowing the anchor, perhaps?)
Like so many self-published books, Bernie’s presentation is obviously homemade. He is not a videographer or skilled narrator. But if you’re wondering what it’s like out there, you’re invited along on the voyage with this self-styled madman who travels the world in search of adventure., I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell . . . everyone has a book hidden deep inside him (or her) somewhere. With today’s easier and more affordable video technology and the relative ease of distribution, allow me to revise that thought: everyone has a movie hidden inside instead.
In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship
by John Rousmaniere (Mystic Seaport, 2006; 168 pages; $50.00)
Reviewed by Don Chambers, Lawrence, Kans.
The sailing vessel Bolero is the centerpiece of this gorgeous book and she deserves such an honor. Though other boats with great records melted into the ooze of some obscure boatyard, the sheer beauty of Bolero under sail kept her from that ugly fate. Again and again she was resurrected from neglect, decay, and general decrepitude by those who still saw her beauty, even in her worst moments.
Much history is woven within and around the story of Bolero‘s birth, greatness, decline and resurrection — histories of the designers who conceived her and of the owners whose cash made it all possible, histories of famous boatyards and craftsmen. Some are people whose names GOB readers might recognize: Cornelius Shields, Ted Turner, Henry S. Morgan (of Morgan Stanley), to name a few.
This is a story of the rich and famous, those who sailed very large and very expensive boats. One story tells of a race where a crewmember of a rival boat spotted a trail of artichoke leaves and instantly knew it could only have been left by Bolero, whose famous galley cook was preparing dinner.
But wealthy owners aren’t the only heroes here. There are the “back stories” of designers Olin and Rod Stephens, of the famous Henry Nevis Boatyard, and the craftsmen who were crucial in building Bolero. And because the world of big wooden sailing boats was (is) such a small one, most of America’s hero-designers walk in and out of this book: Bruce Kirby, John Alden, Nathanael and Halsey Herreshoff, etc.
Rousmaniere is excellent when describing the exciting races between Bolero and Baruna, another Sparkman and Stephen’s boat of similar dimensions, often long ocean races — Newport to Annapolis, the Bermuda races, etc. The virtue of these stories is the crewmembers on-board recollections of the fast and furious action and the sheer size and power of these boats. One crewmember remembers ” . . . Bolero‘s bronze winch literally exploded under the strain and bronze pieces flew everywhere . . . anything that flopped on Bolero could kill you on impact . . . the only thing on Bolero I could lift without a winch was a sandwich . . .”
There are interesting capsule histories of the Sparkman and Stephens naval architecture firm and the Henry Nevins Boat Yard, both of whom catered to the building/rebuilding of large sailing vessels. I admire the Rod Stephens quote: ” . . . the best work is done by people who are fanatical and fanatics are not known for their flexibility.” And, of course, that is what creates the conflicts and thus the stories herein.
John Nicholas Brown commissioned Bolero‘s construction, but it was his wife, Anne Seddon Kinsolving, who influenced the design of Bolero in crucial ways and “made John Nicholas Brown a sailor,” according to Rousmaniere. After a succession of owners, Bolero disappeared until Ed Kane found her — deserted, dismantled, and derelict, up a muddy creek in Florida.
Kane and his wife, Marty Wallace, restored Bolero to full glory once again, with Marty taking the lead. Kane himself says his biggest joy was to get syndicates together and watch the intrigue of interacting personalities, while “Marty is the builder and the artist . . . . She loves tearing things apart and rebuilding them . . . I’m not a project person.”
They rebuilt Bolero to race with a smaller crew, adding power winches and roller furling, much against the objections of traditionalists. The grand old lady did race again. In the 2004 season she took six firsts and four seconds.
All in all, John Rousmaniere’s book is an interesting read and thoroughly gorgeous to look at. If you’re looking for books on knock-em-dead-handsome old boats with downright beautiful pictures, you’ll like this one.