Book Reviews From 2012

Reviews From 2012

February 2012 Newsletter

April 2012 Newsletter

June 2012 Newsletter

August 2012 Newsletter

October 2012 Newsletter

December 2012 Newsletter

Gone To The Sea: Selected Stories, Voyages, And Profiles

by Herb McCormick (Paradise Cay Publications, 2011; 313 pages; $16.95)
Review By Dan Spurr
Bozeman, Montana

Herb McCormick and I wrote our first books together, after hours, banging away at IBM Selectric typewriters on the second floor of the old Cruising World offices in downtown Newport, Rhode Island. He and then-editor George Day were working on Out There, a fine narrative describing the first BOC Challenge singlehanded round-the-world race. Herb wasn’t too many years out of Williams College, where he starred as wide receiver on the school football team. He was not all that fast running in a straight line, but he was quick, and had great hands. Think Fred Biletnikoff from John Madden’s Oakland Raiders teams. If you’re not old enough to remember those great teams of the ’60s and ’70s, Wes Welker will do for now — short routes, quick moves, great hands.

As for most people, writing did not come easily to Herb, but he’s a quick study, and it wasn’t long before he figured out the secrets to the feature form: organize your material into a beginning, middle, and end. And if you’re clever, you’ll settle on an angle at the beginning that grabs the reader, then reprise it at the end.

Why this exposition on the craft of non-fiction writing? Because a good story is all in the telling. A talented writer can make any subject interesting. Take Herb’s account of meeting Catalina Yachts’ founder Frank Butler. “Traffic is moving briskly on California’s famed Ventura Highway, flowing due west from Los Angeles, and Frank Butler is moving right along with it . . . When he sees a quick opening, he goes for it, and the needle on the speedometer tilts accordingly . . . 65, 70, 75. There’s only one problem, really. About three cars back, leaning on the gas in a whining, woeful, compact rental, someone is desperately trying to maintain contact, visual and otherwise, with the blazing T-bird.

“That someone would be me.”

Turns out Butler wasn’t leading Herb to the sailboat plant, but to the warehouse full of old cars he collects — a 1920 Dodge Phaeton, a 1940 ragtop Lincoln Continental, and lots of Thunderbirds.

Fast forward to the story’s end, where Butler bids Herb adieu. Speaking of his life, Frank says, “I do know one thing. It went very fast. When you enjoy things, they go fast. Real fast.”

To which Herb extends the automotive metaphor: “Well, yes. Fast. That’s the speed when you never take your foot off the pedal.”

The 28 stories in this engaging anthology are as varied as Herb’s travels around the globe. Meet “The (Not Quite) Mellow Dude,” Dennis Conner, who, on first meeting Herb, sees alarming parallels with TV mobster Tony Soprano; singlehander Mike Plant before his last voyage; Don Street; Ted Kennedy, and a crazy collection of other blokes. Herb knows that while we’re all in this game for the love of boats, it’s people who make the stories.

I tell you this in the hopes you’ll plunk down your hard-earned cash to buy this book. You’ll get change for your twenty. And I promise you short routes, quick moves, and great hands.

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Cruising Conversations With A Daring Duo

by Charles and Corinne Kanter (Sailco Press, 2011; 364 pages; $19.95)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Illinois

This book by Charles and Corinne Kanter, the daring duo of the title, is the ninth they have written about their lives (married 54 years!) spent mostly sailing in mostly catamarans, along the East Coast and the Bahamas. The book is a somewhat randomly thrown together collection of anecdotes, responses to questions asked at boat shows, sea stories, advice pieces, and other goodies.

The Kanters have survived hurricanes (four of them), overcome bureaucracies, made numerous boat-delivery trips, and traveled in the Caribbean islands—including Cuba. The longest vignette, “The 13th Trip,” is a yarn about taking their 32-foot catamaran, La Forza, up the Intracoastal Waterway with a gremlin named Murphy as stowaway.

They’ve met people such as the couple in Charleston, North Carolina, who, seeing them standing in the rain wearing foul-weather gear, casually invited them for coffee. On a different stay in the same gracious city, a smack upside the head by a jibing boom ends up at a shore-side BBQ. Then there are the three Bobs, and Tristan Jones . . .

Included with the yarns is a lot of practical advice, such as how to finance a liveaboard lifestyle (don’t sell the house, rent it out), how to anchor (“Where did all the other boats go?”), how to steer a course (“But it sails much better if we go this way!”), and how to get an engine fixed (“All the good mechanics are working for the smugglers”). The Kanters learned a lot in their 100,000 miles of sailing, and the lessons are given clearly and with humor. Several of the pieces are illustrated with cute cartoons by Joe O’Brien.

Reading this book is like sitting in the cockpit with two experienced sailors, listening to their adventures and learning about how to avoid their mistakes— a good, light, informative read.

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Here We Are: The History, Meaning And Magic Of GPS

by Jim Carrier
(New Word City, Inc., 2011; 29 pages–eBook; $2.99)
Review by James Williams
St. Petersburg, Florida

In his electronic book, Here We Are, Jim Carrier, author of several books including the well-received The Ship and the Storm about the 1998 loss of Windjammer Cruises’ 282-foot schooner Fantome to Hurricane Mitch, briefly recounts the history of the Navstar Global Positioning System, simply known today as GPS.

Appropriate to the electronic technology he describes, Carrier’s work is available only as an eBook and makes use of numerous links to online information. His links act in some ways as valuable footnotes, which should be the point of links in eBooks and online essays; however, I found that links to commonplace names such as “Columbus,” “sextant,” “Cold War,” and “Soviet Union” distracted my reading.

The Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957 marked the beginning of GPS technology and a worldwide revolution in navigation. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University employed the Doppler effect to track Sputnik and then reversed the concept and used known satellite orbits to locate their position. The Navy quickly saw the value of this for its nuclear submarine fleet and contracted with Johns Hopkins to build Doppler-tone satellites. In 1959, the Transit system, precursor to today’s GPS, was launched, and within a few years the military developed atomic-clock-based satellite navigation systems. “By 1972,” writes Carrier, “there were, by one estimate, 47 different U.S. military navigation satellites in orbit or on the drawing boards.”

Inter-service bickering threatened to kill space-based navigation development, but during a short tenure as Deputy Secretary of Defense (1969-1971), David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, created a joint program office in the Department of Defense to end the inter-service dissension. In 1973, Air Force Colonel Bradford Parkinson was appointed to head the office, and he is credited with saving space-based navigation and choosing the best technology from the top three contenders. It was named Navstar and, in 1978, the first satellite of the new system was launched.

GPS backers struggled to compete with military brass wanting funding for weapons during the Carter years, but eventually the Air Force adopted and funded GPS because of its efficacy in putting bombs on target. In 1983, the downing of Korean Air Line flight 007 by Soviet war planes prompted President Reagan to offer GPS to the world’s airlines and the launching of additional satellites began in earnest in 1989, just in time for the first Gulf War to prove beyond doubt GPS’s military value.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs tapped into GPS. Charlie Trimble founded Trimble, Inc., in 1978, which became the leader in developing products harnessing GPS to commercial and consumer uses as well as to military use. In 1989, Garmin opened its first offices in Lenexa, Kansas, and a year later introduced the first marine GPS, a panel-mounted unit priced at $2,500 that generated 5,000 orders at that year’s International Marine Technology Exposition in Chicago.

In 1994, the U.S. government officially declared that the GPS system was fully operational. Already, GPS receiver prices were falling, and its use was becoming commonplace. Carrier concludes his brief history with a look at the current operation of GPS and an array of examples of how GPS has impacted society.

While sailors may wish that Here We Are devoted more space to GPS in the maritime world, Carrier makes clear that GPS revolutionized marine navigation. I am sure he would agree with Tim Bartlett of Sail Magazine that, with GPS, “for the first time in history, ordinary sailors could quickly, easily, reliably, and affordably fix their position at the push of a button, no matter what the conditions.” And, perhaps the history of GPS in sailing is for another book to explore.

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The Sailor’s Book Of Small Cruising Sailboats:
Reviews And Comparisons Of 360 Boats Under 26 Feet

by Steve Henkel (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 2010; 412 Pages; $29.95)
Review By Paul Maravelas
Mayer, Minnesota

Steve Henkel collected information for decades before compiling this fascinating compendium on fiberglass cruising sailboats sold in the U.S. Nearly all of the boats get a full page, with roughly half of each page devoted to plans. The 8½ x-11 inch format is large enough to make the plans accessible, and Henkel shows us a sail plan, a full hull profile from abeam, and an interior plan for each boat. Each review includes Henkel’s own opinion of the boat’s best and worst features, and data for several comparable boats. The book is organized in six sections, according to boat length, so comparison is easy. Henkel uses length on deck to categorize the boats.

An unusual amount of data is included. In addition to the typical data, Henkel gives the boat’s designer, the most prominent manufacturer, years of production, sail area, tank capacities, bridge clearance, PHRF rating, hull speed, and headroom. He developed a “space index” that estimates the total cabin space, and gives ratings for motion underway based on Ted Brewer’s comfort ratio. In some cases, Henkel has measured from the manufacturer’s drawings to supply or correct information. An introductory chapter does a fine job of discussing the measurements and their meaning.

Henkel, one of the founders of the short-lived Sailor magazine, has been writing about sailing since 1971 and has owned 23 different boats. In this book he includes lists of boats that he thinks are particularly well suited for various kinds of sailing. There is an informative chapter discussing boat character and the pros and cons of various features (tiller vs. wheel, outboard vs. inboard, full keel vs. fin, etc.). Oddly, this information follows the reviews, though it seems better suited for a place at the beginning.

This book would be improved if Henkel’s generalizations were pulled from individual reviews and blended into the chapter on boat character. The 76 photos at the back of the book seem to be an afterthought, with no indication in the corresponding boat reviews that a photo is included. Regrettably, some of the drawings, apparently taken from the marketing materials of the manufacturers, are not clear enough so that all of the notes can be read or the details discerned. In a perfect world, the drawings would have been redone and sometimes simplified for clarity.

In general, however, the book is a rich addition to the literature. It’s absorbing simply to read the reviews and contemplate the unfolding design trends in cruising boats. Only sixty years have elapsed since fiberglass boats were introduced, but the evolution of hull design — including changes in keel and rudder shapes — has been significant. Sail plans, to a lesser extent, have also changed. Henkel’s work shows that, despite trends, a few makers have continued to sell slower but more sea-kindly hull designs, as well as interesting alternatives to sloop and cutter rigs. The design of the Cape Cod Marlin, for example, a 23-foot full-keeled sloop, reaches back to Nathanael Herreshoff, who died in 1938. The boat’s lines and sail plan were revised by Herreshoff’s son, Sidney, and when introduced in 1957, the Marlin was one of the first fiberglass boats to appear on the market. Interestingly, it is still being made by Cape Cod Shipbuilding.

Henkel has completed another volume, covering cruising boats 26- to 31-feet in length, which International Marine hopes to publish in the future.

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Lesson Plans Ahoy! Hands-on Learning for Sailing Children
and Home Schooling Sailors

by Nadine Slavinski (Slavinski-Schweitzer Press, 2nd Edition, 2011; $26.95; 267 pages)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Lesson Plans Ahoy! is an excellent educational guide for cruising families. Author Nadine Slavinski is a teacher, a parent, and a sailor, and has capitalized on her knowledge in each of those roles in this fine book. She has a master’s degree in education, has taught in international schools for 15 years, and took a year-long sailing sabbatical with her husband and 4-year-old son.

The book opens with “How To’s of Home Schooling on a Boat,” which encompasses information on choosing an approach — a balanced look at the pros and cons of both packaged home-schooling programs and self-designed home schooling. Slavinski’s book is an effective component for either end of the spectrum. She goes on to offer general strategies for home schooling aboard a boat and structuring the curriculum, from creating an overall educational plan for the cruise all the way down to daily lesson plans.

Units include:

  1. Earth & Space Science
  2. Biology: Fish Dissection
  3. Chemistry
  4. Mathematics: Data Management
  5. Mathematics: Measurement
  6. Writing
  7. History: The Voyages of Christopher Columbus
  8. History: The Voyages of Captain Cook
  9. Navigation with Map & Compass
  10. Physical Education: Heart Rate & Exercise

Each of these 10 units of study is directly related to life aboard a cruising boat and all are accompanied by suggestions for enrichment activities, cross-curricular links to other subject areas, and resources, including books and educational web sites. Each unit can be condensed to be covered in just a few lessons or expanded for in-depth study. “The idea is not to strictly follow the text,” the author says, “but rather to use it as a guide for student-driven inquiry.”
Slavinski has provided directions for differentiating the lessons that allow parents to modify the material for the individual child, as well as to easily adapt the lessons to children ranging in age from 4 to 12 years old. It’s amazing!

It is difficult to convey in a short review how applicable the lessons are to life aboard a boat. For example, the section dryly labeled “Mathematics: Data Collection” is actually about graphing water consumption on board, though it can be modified to cover fuel consumption, the nationalities of boats in the anchorage, or most anything on which the family chooses to practice simple to complex graphing. “Earth & Space Science” covers the lunar cycles, eclipses, time zones and the moon and tides. The history units on Captain Cook and Christopher Columbus are divided into subsections that cover a variety of curricular areas taking a sailor’s point of view and emphasizing that history can be seen through different perspectives. Navigation covers map reading, topography, taking fixes, compass exercises, and dead reckoning. Yup, all of this adaptable even for 4- and 5-year-olds.

Appendix A demonstrates how the units can be divided into manageable daily lessons of 45 to 60 minutes each. In order to help parents identify how each of the 10 units related to schoolwork back ashore, Appendix C offers a comprehensive cross-reference for science, math, and writing units with the national or state curricula from four different countries. This covers the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom for grade levels from early childhood through grade seven and helps families to recognize expectations in their land-bound schools.

There’s a whole lot more packed in this 267-page book, and I strongly recommend all “boat schooling” families check out this valuable resource!

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Outfitting the Offshore Cruising Sailboat:
Refitting Used Sailboats for Blue-Water Voyaging

by Peter I. Berman (Paradise Cay Publications, 2012; $19.95; 256 pages)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The subtitle, Refitting Used Sailboats for Blue-Water Voyaging, of Peter Berman’s new book, Outfitting the Offshore Cruising Sailboat, tells why it’s an important new reference for good old boaters. Peter’s basic premise is that new offshore cruising sailboats are prohibitively expensive and somewhat uncommon, while the market in used cruising sailboats is rich and vast and flourishing. There’s something there for everyone.

His 45-year experience as a cruiser in nearly a dozen different designs (CCA through modern racing designs) is enlightening. While Peter has formed strong opinions about many features, he does not recommend one design type over another. He knows, perhaps better than most, that every sailboat is a compromise and that priorities and budgets will vary from sailor to sailor.

What he offers is a series of observations and a logical review of onboard systems that will help any prospective offshore cruiser consider the pros and cons of each system, feature, and sailboat type. In the end, the reader of Outfitting the Offshore Cruising Sailboat will be able to determine which features are personally important and which have a lower priority.

I chuckled occasionally at Peter’s dry wit but found that I didn’t agree with every word of his sage advice. I’m just one sailor, after all, with one set of values and preferences, but I was surprised, for example, to note that Peter overlooked the value of freshwater sailboats, as they apparently do not figure in the experience of this East Coast (and beyond) sailor.

Peter starts his discussion of good used boats by ranking the most expensive systems: the rig, the engine, and the ground tackle. As these are the most expensive items to replace, he gives each system a thorough and thoughtful critique based on his experiences as a cruiser. There are many nuggets here for every would-be cruiser. In particular, he includes good tips about good and bad construction features in the rig, bearing in mind intended use for coastal vs. offshore work. This section clearly spells out features to look for if you will be cruising offshore.

Over all, Peter offers great advice about buying a good old cruising sailboat and how to refit it for several more decades of offshore cruising adventures. Like the rest of us, Peter has conflicts about the best possible cruising sailboat. After saying that larger is always better, that system redundancy is critically important, and that you should replace practically everything before going offshore, Peter admits that his first cruiser was probably his favorite. A primitively equipped wooden Dickerson, this boat cost only $16,000, had fewer systems to maintain, and was his most affordable cruiser. After telling readers they should probably invest the purchase price of the boat in the refit, and to replace all the important and expensive systems, he reminds us that the first priority is to “just go.” Time is the enemy, he says, so don’t spend your life in “endless outfitting.”

In the end, as in all things, it’s up to the reader to make his own choices based on his own list of priorities. But Peter offers great advice that may help each reader rank his own list of priorities and consider some systems and construction methods that he may not have thought about.

If you’re still searching for your offshore sailboat and juggling the hundreds of variables, Peter Berman — a guy who’s been there and done that — has some very useful advice for you.

Read this book. Then go get the boat, get to work on the refit, and get going . . . now —while you can.

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Reeds Knot Handbook: a Pocket Guide to Knots, Hitches and Bends

by Jim Whippy (Paradise Cay Publications, 2011; $9.95; 128 pages)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

As a kid I was kind of a klutz. In fact, I can still hear my buddy Chuck calling out to me from second after yet another strikeout, “Wayne, I’ve never seen anyone as uncoordinated as you!” Almost 50 years later, I still have to laugh at Chuck’s honesty. When I was a Boy Scout we had to learn some basic knots, and that same lack of hand-eye coordination haunted me there too. I managed to learn a few and I was amazed to find that, after many years, I could still tie a bowline and whip the end of a rope. So when I was asked to review Reeds Knot Handbook I thought it was nothing less than karma.

Reeds Knot Handbook is a pocket-size, easy-to-use, color-coded guide to tying almost 60 different knots. There’s a two-page introduction to the terminology of knot tying that explains the difference between the working end, the bight, the standing part, and the end of a rope, and a very brief explanation of the different materials used in various types of ropes. The book is divided into six categories of knots: overhand knots and hitches, figure-of-eight knots, bowlines and bends, crossing knots, wrap-and-tuck knots, and “Other Useful Knots.” There’s a brief description of the application of each knot, a color illustration of each step in the tying process, and a color picture of the finished product. If more than one rope is involved, each one is a different color to help the reader keep them separate.

Having a resource liked Reeds Knot Handbook is certainly handy, but the only way to learn a new skill is to simply do it. With that in mind, I grabbed an old length of clothesline, opened the book to page 50, and attempted a bowline on a bight. The next thing I knew it was abracadabra, zippity-do-dah, yadda-yadda-yadda, and I had done it. Well, not the first time, but with my lack of hand-eye coordination I was pleased with the results and, with practice, I’m sure it will get easier. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use guide to knots that are useful and, in some cases, just plain cool, Reeds Knot Handbook will work quite nicely for you, and it won’t take up a lot of space on a bookshelf or on a boat.

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The Limbus of the Moon

by Bill Mego (<>, 2011; $24.95; 360 pages)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Ilinois

The Limbus of the Moon is a novel in the mold of a Dan Brown thriller, or at least it tries to be. Viator venenatus is a sea urchin, very rare, incredibly valuable, and possibly the source of life-saving drugs. A mysterious eccentric thinks he can breed them in captivity. He’s persuaded a rich Chinese shipping magnate with ties to Asian criminal organizations to fund an expedition to locate this possibly extinct animal.

Recruited into this expedition are Robert McLaren, researcher, teacher, mentor, and man of action: seeing an airplane a half mile out on final approach, he immediately starts running to the spot on the runway where the wreckage eventually comes to rest.* On that airplane is Jessica Meyer, a State Department facilitator who is supposed to help this project run smoothly. Other characters involved are Gus Kolar, reef expert and captain of the Hina Ko’a, and his assistant Andreas Hook. There are also glamorous island residents, pirates, and operatives for different organizations who may or may not be on the same side as the explorers. Nobody is quite who they first appear to be.

The story runs to several exotic locales, such as mysterious islands and the reefs of the East coast of the Caribbean. Even so, it’s about as exciting as a business trip to Vancouver, with occasional instances of violence thrown in. The sailing doesn’t begin until 200 pages into the book, and then it’s on a big catamaran with every luxury, including solar-electric motors and an Artificial Intelligence computer. There is a climactic pursuit that ends at a well-known nautical landmark, followed by a series of coincidences as the author wraps up all the plotlines.

The book needs better descriptions of the people and locations, and more excitement in the plotting. There is one great laugh-out-loud scene based on a foreign intelligence chief’s idea of how to not be noticed in Chicago. Mego has a wonderful ear for dialogue, but the book is like sailing a big catamaran on calm seas — pleasant enough, but not as exciting as tearing along on your beam ends.

*This reviewer is grateful to the author for reinstating Meigs Field, which is more than the current mayor of Chicago has done.

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Safer Offshore; Crisis Management and Emergency Repairs at Sea

by Ed Mapes (Paradise Cay Publications, Inc., 2010; 300 pages; $19.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

There’s an old adage among pilots: “Those who have and those who will,” meaning that sooner or later, every pilot will come close to landing an airplane without extending the landing gear. Similarly, when it comes to spending time on boats, be it offshore passagemaking, fishing, or day sailing, eventually we’re all going to have some sort of emergency. Safer Offshore: Crisis Management and Emergency Repairs at Sea, by Ed Mapes, is another in a long list of books that deal with on-the-water emergencies. It’s quite evident early on that Mapes knows what he’s talking about and his 30-plus years of experience are clearly visible. His easy-to-read style makes this a very user-friendly book.

There are 14 chapters that cover subjects ranging from communications, helicopter evacuation, abandoning ship, fires, running aground, towing, and many others. At the end of the book there’s an appendix with lists of what every offshore vessel should carry to repair engines, sails, rigging, electrical systems, plumbing, etc. These aren’t just random lists of “stuff,” but items that Mapes has found, again from his experience, to be vital to ensure a smooth passage if (when) things go wrong.

This past summer, while out for a daysail, I was caught by a storm about two miles offshore. I knew Tortuga, my 26-foot Westerly Centaur, could handle the conditions, but there was a small fishing boat with two adults and two small kids that had run out of gas and was in dire straits. Having never towed anyone with my boat, I felt uncomfortable taking on the task at that point so I flagged down a powerboat and they towed in the unfortunate party. Everyone involved survived, none the worse for wear. I was asked to review Safer Offshore shortly after the experience, and the first thing I did was read the section on towing. I hope I’m never put in that situation again, but if I am, I’ll feel more comfortable and I’ll have the confidence to take on the task. Safer Offshore; Crisis Management and Emergency Repairs at Sea would be a valuable tool to keep on your boat or on your bookshelf for review in the off-season.

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The Latest News from Purgatory Cove

as told to Paul Esterle by Paul Esterle (Lulu, 171 pages; 2012; $15.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

The Latest News from Purgatory Cove is a collection of 40 two- to three-page-long “letters” from the fictional Purgatory Cove Fish Dock & Marina. Readers familiar with Garrison Keillor might find the format of these fictional accounts reminiscent of “The News from Lake Wobegon.” Each is bracketed with a beginning of “Well, it’s been a slow week here in Purgatory Cove,” and an ending of “Other than that, it’s been a slow week here in Purgatory Cove.” In-between, Sam, Wade, and Lefty sail from one debacle to another. A few visitors manage to find the marina, but the threesome, along with Sam’s momma, soon drive them off. And that’s the way Sam likes it.

“Lookin’ for a good place to keep your boat? A place with lots of amenities, skilled staff, and great service? Well,” says the book cover, “keep on lookin’ ’cause we do things our own way here at the Purgatory Cove Fish Dock & Marina.”

Purgatory Cove and its cast of characters — in the truest sense of the word — came to life in the editorial offices of Nor’Easter Magazine. The art folks were working on an ad for a marina where all the “nice” people went, and the saccharin-like content led them to question where all the “not nice” people went. Bastard Cove, they wondered?  They couldn’t use that in the magazine, of course, so the Purgatory Cove Fish Dock & Marina was born. The column enjoyed a brief run in Nor’Easter. After it was pulled, Paul Esterle continued writing new “letters” from the guys at the fictional marina. He’s had them in print in a variety of venues and runs them as a regular feature on his radio show, “Capt’n Pauley’s Place.”

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Caly’s Island

by Dick Herman (AuthorHouse, 240 pages; 2011; $14.99 paper; $2.99 Kindle and Nook)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Illinois

The Freakin’ Old Guys (FOGs for short, and that first word isn’t the one they use) are a group of older sailors doing a messabout in the San Juan Islands. There is Gibson Stanford, known as Gib, retired judge; Rufus Gunnermeyer, a blacksmith; Peter L. Lacy, the group’s lawyer and ladies’ man; Zack Hilber, spatially challenged former CIA operative; Hornsby Blair, known as “H” or “The Admiral,” the de facto leader of the group; and Steve Latrans, a man with secrets. A last-minute addition is Sean Homes, a punk teenager in perpetual trouble. The group decides he would benefit from spending time with “real men” in a challenging environment. It sounds hokey, but the scene where the men meet to discuss the young man’s future comes off powerfully—this is what men do (or should).

Soon after setting out, the group of sailors is beset by weather, mysterious cell-phone calls, the Russian mob, the Ukrainian mob — then things get really weird. I do not want give away too much of this great story, but the sailors end up far away from their cruising ground in both distance and time.

The biggest drawback of the book is that too much is going on, most of it at the same time, and it gets difficult to follow. But there is a lot of sailing in the story, and the descriptions of handling the small boats, including navigation, sail handling, and heavy weather, is dead on. The characters of the FOGs are a pretty accurate description of older sailors. (I’m a bit FOGgy myself.) The 14- to 18-foot sailboats belonging to the members of the group are characters in themselves. The action sequences, ashore or afloat, are exciting. And the wrap-up is, within the context of this unbelievable story, believable.

This is one you will have trouble putting down.

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The Shipkiller

by Justin Scott (Pegasus Books, release date June 8, 2012; 432 pages; $25.95 U.S. / $30.00 Canada)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

In the mid-1970s the world changed forever as we, the general public, were made aware of just how fragile our way of life is during the first oil shortage. Those of us who are old enough can remember when lines formed at gas stations around the country, and although we had never heard of OPEC, it soon became a household name. It was against this backdrop that Justin Scott wrote The Shipkiller, which has just been put back into print in a 35th anniversary edition. This is a modern-day David and Goliath story, with Peter Hardin as David. Goliath is the 1,800-foot Ultra-large Crude Carrier (ULCC) Leviathan that runs down Peter’s 40-foot ketch, Siren, during a squall in the North Atlantic without even noticing. Carolyn, Peter’s wife, is killed but somehow Peter survives and, after reaching several dead ends in his attempts to bring those responsible to justice, he takes matters into his own hands. The story takes us sailing from the North Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, with a few side trips into political intrigue, military corruption, and a little romance, though not enough of the latter to diminish the story.

The story has some built-in credibility. When The Shipkiller was written in 1977, economically transporting huge volumes of crude oil halfway around the world led to the development of the ULCC and many people wondered how big these things were going to get. Although an 1,800-foot ship has never materialized, in 1979, shortly after The Shipkiller, the Seawise Giant was launched. At 1,504 feet, she’s the largest ship that has ever been built. She was sold several times and spent her final years as the Knock Nevis, a permanently moored storage tanker, before being scrapped in 2010. Today, the largest ULCCs are over 1,300 feet long or almost three-fourths the size of Scott’s Leviathan, which is still plenty big — over four football fields big!

In the early 1980s I was bitten by the sailing bug, but I knew it would be a long time before I’d be in a position to buy a boat of my own. To scratch that itch, I read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with sailing and I remember The Shipkiller as one of my favorites. For the past few years I’ve had my eye out for it in the hopes that I would be able to read it again so, naturally, when I was asked to review the 35th anniversary edition I jumped at the chance. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Shipkiller has held up very well over the years and, given the fact that the world still faces an oil crisis, it’s just as timely today as it was in 1977.

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Shrader Marks: Keelhouse

by Rob Smith (Drinian Press, 2012; 440 pages; $15.95, $4.99 Kindle)

Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

With two novels now wrapped inside one big cover, Rob Smith makes a gigantic statement in the fascinating game of “What If?” The scenario in his two Shrader Marks books, Night Voices and Keelhouse, now packaged together as Keelhouse, is riveting. What if a very large meteor struck the Earth, say, in Antarctica? What if that very large impact caused shifting of the fragile tectonic plates in the Pacific Rim? What if those shifts resulted in heavy volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tsunamis? What if the Antarctic ice melted as a result and the seas rose, not a few feet, but hundreds of feet? What would life on Earth be like then?

Rob focuses on a few Lake Ontario sailors — people on the dock only minimally acquainted with each other — who, to greater or lesser degrees, become fearful of the impending crisis and escape together in a flotilla of eight sailboats as the waters rise, the volcanic dust causes a new ice age, and survival becomes difficult. This small group eventually melds into a fairly efficient community living isolated somewhere in the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

The adventures of their escape as the world collapses around them create the first book, while a look at the community they have created during five years in exile provides subject material aplenty for the second as the Earth begins to warm and heal once more. There are bad guys, of course, and good guys. There are love stories, too, as the members of the community learn to respect and appreciate people they never would have selected in the world of the past and yet form bonds perhaps more meaningful than marriage. And there is quite a bit of sailing in this book as the sailors make their way from Lake Ontario and out the St. Lawrence Seaway toward their new lives.

As the protagonist, Shrader Marks discovers in himself a few skills that come in handy. He has the gift of the shaman and, as such, is able to communicate with some animals, primarily killer whales. It is from them that Shrader learns much about life beyond the sailors’ fragile Keelhouse settlement and is able to sense fragments of future events as well.

Obviously a sailor, Rob Smith shares his enthusiasm for our favorite activity in his books. He lives, writes, and sails on Ohio’s north coast. With at least eight books to his credit, Rob is not a new author. His Shrader Marks books are good examples of the depth of his creativity and insight into a future not one of us hopes to experience. His books are available on Amazon. His other fictional series, featuring a protagonist named McGowan, might also be a fun discovery.

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World Cruising Destinations

by Jimmy Cornell (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2010; 432 pages; $49.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

… I realized with a pang of joy that in spite of all that has changed in the world … that a boat can still take you to places that have remained virtually untouched.
– Jimmy Cornell

Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Destinations is a valuable in-depth reference book written by an extremely knowledgeable and passionate sailor. Intent on providing readers the most pertinent information available, he succeeds in delivering a multitude of data in an organized volume, making it easy for cruisers, and those planning or even dreaming of sailing to the world’s cruising destinations, to plan their cruise, choose a destination, and begin preparing for the adventure.

Twelve main sections cover all the countries or groups of islands visited by cruisers, no matter what the frequency of those visits. Using charts, maps, beautiful color photos, and detailed documentation, Jimmy covers:

  • Mediterranean and Black Sea
  • Northern Europe
  • Western Europe and North Atlantic Islands
  • West Africa and South Atlantic Islands
  • The Caribbean
  • North and Central America
  • South America
  • North Pacific Islands
  • South Pacific
  • South East and East Asia
  • North Indian Ocean and Red Sea
  • South Indian Ocean

Most readers will find it beneficial to first read the section titled “About This Book.” In this section the author gives readers the blueprint to understanding what is covered in each subsequent section of the book. Included are:

  • Country profile — history, government, population
  • Climate — including storm season charts
  • Ports of entry — all official ports of entry are listed
  • Formalities — documents required, visas, cruising permits, arrival and departure procedures
  • Facilities — general information
  • Charters — types available
  • Cruising guides — as of publication date
  • Websites — List general information
  • Useful Information — emergency information for the local area
  • Flag etiquette — Q flag and courtesy flag
  • Environmental protection — tips relative to each area, regarding avoiding destruction of the environment
  • The right attitude — it’s all about respect
  • Safety and piracy — monitor and awareness of areas known for piracy
  • Cruising rallies — offer choice of sailing in a group

As readers turn from one location section to another, they will find all the information is formatted in the same manner, which simplifies navigating this 432-page book and makes comparisons between countries and regions an uncomplicated task.

“Health Precautions Worldwide” is another section packed with useful information for any cruiser planning to sail in foreign waters. Readers will find information on diseases and vaccinations, the sun (strength and sunburn risk), and how to find out more up-to-date health information on the Internet.

An extensive listing of cruising guides available for most areas is included as well. This isn’t a surprise as Jimmy Cornell seems to think of everything in this well-written and compiled World Cruising Destinations guide, in which he covers every location from A to Z, and everything in between.

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Across Islands and Oceans: A Journey Alone Around the World
by Sail and by Foot

by James Baldwin; 2012 Atom; 370 pages
($9.95 paperback;;
$1.99 eBook for Kindle;

Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

James Baldwin needs no introduction to most sailors. He’s the guy who went twice around in a modified Pearson Triton and now makes wonderful modifications to other people’s boats from a home base in Brunswick, Georgia. When we’re lucky, he writes about those refits for the readers of Good Old Boat.

How did a 20-something with a mechanical aptitude and very limited funds decide to go off on a major voyage on a Triton? In Across Islands and Oceans, his new book written 25 years after the fact, James reflects on his early upbringing and the steps that led to the adventure of a lifetime, one that was soon followed by a second circumnavigation that may very well be the subject of a second book.

In looking back at his logs and photos, James brings the wisdom of maturity and the knowledge of how it all turned out in the end to the telling of a tale about the robust energy and spontaneity of his youth. It’s a very useful perspective and gives the book a special kind of depth. Every so often he drops in a pithy philosophical nugget, one of those quotable quotes that will endure. For example: “Looking back now I see that, in time, we become more learned and less wise.” Or: “You can talk about doing a thing until everyone finally talks you out of it or you can actually do the thing” (in this case, going off on a great grand adventure in a 28-foot Triton).

James was no ordinary young guy. (Are those who venture forth ever ordinary? Or is it their adventure itself that raises them from the ordinary?) Now, in retrospect, he ponders briefy about what motivated him and concludes that the sailor with the greatest influence might have been Jean Gau and his book To Challenge a Distant Sea. Certainly, James named his Triton Atom, just like Gau’s 29-foot Tahiti Ketch.

From that entry point, however, James’ voyage diverged from that of Jean Gau. As he went along, James discovered a side of himself he had not yet known. He realized early that he should try to meet the people who inhabited the islands he visited, rather than socializing exclusively with fellow cruisers. That led him to walking around an island and meeting many local people along the way. Soon he began climbing each island’s highest mountain and really getting to know members of inland tribes and isolated communities. He occasionally was invited to stay with local families, often ate with them, and sometimes they cured him of illnesses beyond his own abilities to mend.

His first circumnavigation took only two years, primarily because James realized that, for a sailor with no money, life on land was too expensive in customs duties, occasional marina bills, and shopping sprees. So he crossed the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Atlantic in great long leaps, which unfortunately left much out.

It can be said that, due to financial constraints, James did not take time to smell the roses on this voyage. However, it can also be argued that each time he did make a stop, he explored the area more extensively and met more local people than most cruisers do.

His tales of the hikes and the people are as fascinating as the stories of his voyages and times at sea. This book is a wonderful addition to anyone’s cruising bookshelf and likely to become a classic someday. We liked it so much that it’s on our list to be produced as an audiobook. So if you’re not a reader, there’s hope. We’ll soon read it to you!
I hope James will have enough success with this first book to decide to write the next . . . his book about the second circumnavigation aboard Atom that soon followed.

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Going Full Circle: A 1,555-mile Walk
Around the World’s Largest Lake

by Mike and Kate Crowley (Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc.; 304 pages; $18.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Mike Link and Kate Crowley took a 1,555 mile walk two years ago. Around Lake Superior. For 5 months. As close to the shore as possible the entire way. Why? To explore, to meet people, to gather environmental information, and to call attention to the needs of, and the concerns for, the lake. In their book, as was the case in the interviews and presentations they gave throughout their walk, their message about fresh water and Lake Superior, their concern for the future, is delivered in the context of a story, the story of a walk around a lake. A big part of the story is the sharing of the stories of people they met.

The idea started out as a whim, but the journey became a passion for the 60+-year-old couple. Link was retiring after nearly 40 years with the Audubon Center of the North Woods. “Think of it,” they say, “as lassoing a dream and creating the perfect summation for your career and life.” The purpose of their adventure? To learn, to teach, to research, to observe, and to record.

Why Lake Superior? For one thing, it holds 10 percent of all the fresh water on the surface of the earth and preserving that heritage is crucial to them as naturalists. Along the way, the authors set an example for their grandchildren and generations to come — an important intention for them. They also surveyed 570 people, monitored their dietary and health status, and videotaped folks sharing their feelings and concerns about the Big Lake. They took 300 point samples, one roughly every 3 miles of shoreline, gathering GPS waypoints, taking photographs in the four cardinal directions, and writing field notes to compile data they shared with a number of academic institutions.

Photographs abound in this engaging story that is part personal journal, part investigative journalism.

The website for Full Circle can be found at:

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The Angel Island Conspiracy

by Robert Banks Hull, (iUniverse, Inc., 2010; 119 pages; $11.95 on and
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

Told in the first person, The Angel Island Conspiracy is an action/thriller/mystery that reads like a true-life story. Author Robert Banks Hull sets his story on Angel Island, a real tourist destination off the Pacific coast of San Francisco. Hull uses his knowledge of the island, San Francisco, and the surrounding waters to create a vivid and believable backdrop for his tale.

Travis Blake lives aboard Lolita, his 50-foot motorsailer, in Sausalito, California. He enjoys a rather simple life, spending his days sailing the San Francisco Bay area. His favorite destination? Angel Island.

On a pleasant fall evening in 1981, Travis arrives at the Island and, while looking for a mooring, sights a trawler flying a German Navy battle flag. These types of flags are usually only seen flying on battleships, not yachts. So what is going on?

He greets the man aboard, who is less than friendly, and later watches as the man takes his dog to shore in his dingy, and then heads up onto the island. He thinks it is strange that the man continues up onto the island in the dark, as visitors are not permitted there at night, but shakes off his worries — until he is awakened the next morning by the siren of a sheriff’s boat.

While watching the scene, he sees a dead body on a stretcher being loaded for transport from the island. The shape of the body favors that of the man on the trawler. And the man’s dog is following the procession frantically. Travis knows it has to be the same man who was aboard the trawler the night before, the one with the German Navy battle flag.

Suspicious, Travis decides to snoop around on the island. The newspaper story he read said that the corpse was found near the old barracks, so he heads off to see what he can find. He is in Ayala Cove when he sees another boat flying the German Navy Flag, located off the same area where the body was found.

“More transplanted Germans who are, all of a sudden, deciding to show their patriotism . . .?” Travis wonders.

On a whim, he goes ashore in the dark, without a flashlight, and has to abort his mission, but Travis is certain there is something more going on. He sets off to first convince and then to enlist his friend and sailing partner, Carol Whitely, to help him find out just what it is.

Carol and Travis discover what they believe to be evidence of espionage on the island. Travis is sure there is a plot to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge but no one will believe his farfetched theory. So the two of them go about conducting their own investigation, not knowing until it is too late that they will be in danger and fighting for their lives in the process.

This “boat” book is a great read for boaters and mystery/thriller readers as well. The author’s style causes readers to believe the tale is real. The action continues to build up to the end, with its plot twists and surprises making it both a must read and hard to put down.

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Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain

by Stephen Taylor (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012; 368 pages; Release date: October 15, 2012; $28.95 (hardcover); $15.37 Kindle edition, available October 8; Nook edition available October 15.
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Every so often, when reading fiction accounts of the Age of Fighting Sail in the late 1700s and early 1800s, you’ll come across the name of Sir Edward Pellew. He was a contemporary of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson and — as author Stephen Taylor has convinced me —an equally important British naval officer, albeit one who never achieved the same star status.

If the British revere this sailor as they should, I’m not aware of it. Surely today’s Americans don’t know much about him. Those who are passionate about the Patrick O’Brian series of nautical fiction, however, may already feel they know Edward Pellew, because this man and his exploits were clearly the inspiration for O’Brian’s famous Jack Aubrey.

Captain Jack was a fictional character whose own naval career and trajectory through the politics of the times differed from those of Pellew, the real naval officer. But as you read Pellew’s biography, you can’t avoid the “aha moments” when recognizing the fictional activities of Aubrey. Pellew, for example, was one of few sailors who could swim and, as the result, dove off the ship several times to save sailors or to perform other activities to save or free the ship. He was a big, athletic man who enjoyed climbing to the tops even when he was an admiral.

He came from humble beginnings. He was not from the privileged class and therefore destined to become a naval officer. He began his career before the mast (rather than as a midshipman) and earned each promotion due to his seamanship, courage, and ability to think a few steps ahead of the enemy.

Not having a sponsor in the Admiralty to ensure that his career advanced appropriately and not having the proper British upper-crust foundation, diction, and connections was a problem for Pellew all his life, as there were always naysayers who put him down for not being properly refined. Yet this man succeeded so well on the quarterdeck, that his rise could not be ignored. Unlike Jack Aubrey, Pellew was luckier with prize earnings and in his dealings on land. Over time, he became a wealthy man with a large family and an intelligent and supportive wife who ran the household. ( Pellew was away from home for more than 36 of his 46 years in the British Navy).

Author Stephen Taylor does not focus (or even mention) the similarities between Captain Jack and Edward Pellew. He does, however, remind the reader of the parallel career of Nelson and the contrast between Nelson’s career and that of Pellew. While he doesn’t say that Pellew was more heroic and deserving, he leads the reader to draw this conclusion.
You can’t help but like Edward Pellew, a warm-hearted and very capable individual who contributed significantly to Britannia’s rule of the waves during the Napoleonic Wars.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys nautical history, particularly those who are Jack Aubrey fans.

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Sailboat Projects

by Clarence Jones (Winning News Media, 2012; e-book; 93 pages; Kindle and Nook editions: $2.99).
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Clarence Jones has always been a sailor and do-it-yourselfer. He describes himself as a writer/mechanic/inventor/tinkerer. Your choice. His inventions have been installed in a MacGregor 21 and 25, a Precision 18 and 21 and, most recently, a Catalina 28. He’s written several articles for Good Old Boat and more are in the hopper.

His e-book of published articles (including those in Good Old Boat) is a nice little collection of projects for trailerable and not-so-trailerable sailboats, based on projects he’s done on his own boats over the years.

I downloaded the PDF file to my iPad and took it on our summer cruise. I especially liked the articles on snagging the dock and Clarence’s mast-raising system. Clarence is a good writer with creative ideas for getting things done simply and inexpensively. He chooses materials that are easy to find at the local hardware and big box stores that don’t require a bank loan prior to purchase.

Sailboat Projects is a lot like a supplemental copy of Good Old Boat magazine. Download it to your computer or reader-type device and take it on your next cruise for inspiration.

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Cost Control While You Cruise

by Lin and Larry Pardey, edited and produced by Tory Salvia <> or <>), 65 minutes plus extras, $24.95 for DVD, $12.95 for download
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Lin and Larry Pardey’s newest video is another excellent production. These two have never done anything but top-notch books, videos, lecture series, presentations, and whatever else they decide to take on.

As the narrator, Lin explains that they cannot offer their very popular lectures everywhere in the country so they have decided to offer some of the highlights on video. The most frequently asked questions are consistently: How much does it cost to go cruising and how can we control those costs? Ergo, the theme of this video.

With beautiful background video images captured over the past 15 to 20 years of cruising, Lin presents everything you ever wanted to know about cruising life and the choices that affect your costs. Points included are the size of your vessel, the relationship you intend to maintain with people at home, your ability to fix things aboard, and whether you plan to work along the way.

She makes you consider the lifestyle choices you’ll face, such as: docking in marinas or anchoring in remote locations, how much time you’ll spend in towns, whether you’ll cruise in convoy or alone, how much eating out and cooking aboard you’ll do, and the quantity of entertainment ashore or tourist travel you’ll do.

She reports on an informal survey she conducted with 20 to 30 fellow cruisers regarding costs aboard. She learned that Americans averaged $1,500 a month, while the Europeans and South Africans (and other non-U.S. sailors) averaged $1,200. But the real range was $700 to $3,000 a month.

She also notes that the first year tends to be cheaper on average, since you generally leave home with a boat that is well-equipped with all systems functioning. In addition, the joy of cruising is often entertainment enough (sunrises and sunsets, shore explorations, sightings of birds and animals, and so on). By the second year you may need more parts and maintenance, may look for more shoreside entertainment and meals, and may want to make a trip home to visit friends and relatives.

Another interesting point is Lin’s “unstoppable boat” concept. This means that your systems — such as water, lighting, basic navigation, sail raising and lowering, and anchoring — must be separate so that the loss of one won’t stop your cruising. You should be able to do these things even if your electrical system or any other system fails. If you can do this, you can continue your travels until you get to a town large enough to make the repairs or have parts flown in relatively inexpensively.

She says you should have sails that you can maintain yourself and offers some tips on doing so. She adds that you must be comfortable at anchor with ground tackle you can rely on, a dinghy you enjoy using, and a way to bathe aboard.

Other topics include yacht insurance, health insurance, your boat as a warehouse, onboard communications, cruising in company, purchasing local foods, flying home, paper charts and guides, haulout, and traveling in less-frequently cruised areas. Just for fun, Lin also includes her tips regarding spending money. After all, she just helped you save it, didn’t she?

Another fun thing is the musical interludes Lin and Larry include as breaks. Some of their favorite sailor and musician friends are featured singing or playing classical guitar — a fun and unexpected highlight.

This video is enlightening, educational, and entertaining. We can all benefit from viewing it more than once. You’ll enjoy it. Guaranteed.

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Maritime Tales of Lake Ontario

By Susan Peterson Gateley (The History Press, 2012; 128 pages; $19.99)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Susan Peterson Gateley has written a jewel of a book for history buffs with maritime leanings. In the author’s words, Maritime Tales of Lake Ontario is a “collection of historic incidents and personalities who once worked on and by the waters of this Great Lake between 1728 and the present.” An abundance of pictures and illustrations accompany this well written and meticulously researched history of Lake Ontario, as Susan brings past ages to life.

This rich history of the lake’s nautical past features chapters on the naval activity of the 19th century wars fought on the lake, shipwrecks during the age of sail, larger-than-life lake mariners, and a look at 50 years of the St. Lawrence Seaway as seen from a maritime and ecological perspective. Her tales of notable sailors include fascinating portraits of “bold-hearted women” who voyaged upon Lake Ontario.

Susan, who has a 100-ton inland waters and Great Lakes Coast Guard license, has sailed Lake Ontario extensively. She has a background in science and, before taking up writing and publishing, worked as a fisheries biologist and a high school science teacher. She has five other books in print at this time, including The Edge Walker’s Guide to Lake Ontario Beach Combing, which contains information on lakeshore geology, wildlife, and seasonal focal points for hikers, beachcombers, and canoeists. Since 1995, Susan Peterson Gateley has published five nonfiction books on sailing and ecology of the lake, definitely making her the go-to person when it comes to knowledge of this Great Lake!

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Harts at Sea — Sailing to Windward

by Barbara Hart (Hart Enterprises, 2012; 246 pages; $12.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle edition)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

When a very gregarious plugged-in woman agrees to go cruising with her husband for an indefinite period of time — alone, just the two of them on a sailboat — it must be all about love. In her book, Harts at Sea – Sailing to Windward, Barbara says she knew he was a Sailor (with a capital “S”) when she married Stewart:
“When he finally proposed to me after a game of darts in a Portland (Maine) bar, he qualified this already unromantic moment by stating, ‘Before you reply you need to know that someday I will have a sailboat and will sail around the world.'”

I cried. These were not tears of joy.

Throughout this book, Barbara shares her experiences and the strong commitment to the cruising lifestyle she achieves within that first year of cruising … all with a great sense of humor. She talks about the lessons learned along the way, how a plugged-in woman stays plugged in even when “out there” (don’t miss the Networking in Paradise and Connections chapters) and about the cruising lifestyle itself (going aground, cruisers’ nets, haircuts, taxi and bus rides, dinghy docks, laundry, defrosting the freezer, boat security, hauling out, and staying happily married (from the first mate’s perspective, remember!).

Any woman with a sailing man and an iota of hesitation would do well to read Barbara’s book. Any would-be cruisers (gung-ho and otherwise) will find her lists — what works, what didn’t work, what we should have brought more of, things on the wish list, things I miss, and so forth — very helpful just before they take in the docklines for the final time. Barbara has some words of wisdom to share here. Listen up!

I chuckled with Barbara, enjoying her bubbly personality, love of life, and boundless extroverted enthusiasm. She has created nicknames for everything, for example. Stewart has become EW, because he spells his name with an “ew” rather than Stuart with a “u.” His son and her step-son, is referred to only as Favorite. NOAA’s automated voices (especially when in disfavor) are referred to simply as “Her” and “Him.” The engine, the autopilot, most likely everything else aboard is named and part of the family (some with higher rank than others).

Many of Barbara’s chapters were first published as a part of her ongoing blog at <>. She types she tweets, she blogs, she Facebooks. She must communicate. She can’t help herself. She has written an article for Good Old Boat (“The Boat Painter’s Apprentice” in our March 2012 issue) and has published with other sailing magazines. And now she has written a book.

Whether you do so on a tablet or in paperback, when you read this book you will become a member of the crew aboard La Luna, Barbara and Stewart’s 1985 David Pedrick-designed Cheoy Lee 47. You may enjoy reading about their first year aboard almost as much as they enjoyed living it. Their experiences may even entice your reluctant mate to come along.

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Across the Water

music CD by Larry Carpenter, produced by Bill Travers; 2012, 45:24 total number of minutes, $15 price, website or contact info:
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Almost from the time I began sailing in the Apostle Islands some 20 years ago, Larry Carpenter and his guitar have been a part of the sailing experience . . . sometimes at anchorages, sometimes in a gathering spot at the marina. He was often accompanied on flute by his wife and best friend, Judy Taylor. The rest of us gathered around, sometimes joining in the singing and sometimes just happy to appreciate the music.

This summer when I saw Larry, I learned that some of his songs are now available on a CD titled Across the Water. Although these songs are, for the most part, not the familiar nautical tunes we requested over and over as the years went by, it is a grand collection showcasing Larry’s accomplishments, highlighting Judy’s accompaniment, and adding the lovely voice of Laura Moe doing background vocals.

I listened to the collection on my iPod recently as I rode my bicycle on local trails. I was amazed at the power of music when the first raindrops began to fall on me just as the song “Coming Down in the Rain” by Buddy Mondlock began. I laughed over the Gordon Bok tune “Old Fat Boat” and I cried over several of the songs: “The Dutchman” by Michael Smith, “Get Her into Shore” by Larry Kaplan, and “Cold Missouri Water” by James Keelaghan.

Larry features a number of his favorite songwriters. Others are Ian Tamblyn, Connie Kaldor, Ian Tyson, Bill Staines, and Bill Houston. He notes that although he does not write his own music and lyrics, he has the best songwriters “working for him.” This collection of some of his favorites does justice to the team of singers and songwriters whose music Larry has played over the years.

Although I enjoy them all, my personal favorites are probably Tamblyn’s “Black Spruce” and “Angel’s Share.” I’m confident enough that you’ll find several favorites among them as well to recommend Larry’s CD highly. Just one thought, however: don’t listen to them on an iPod while riding your bicycle. These songs belong on your boat. Take Across the Water with you the next time you go sailing.

Here’s how to get it:

Send a check for $15 to:
Larry Carpenter
4505 Columbus Ave
Minneapolis MN 55407
(He travels a lot and it may not get answered immediately, but a CD will be sent.)

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Team Spirit: Life and Leadership
on One of the World’s Toughest Yacht Races

by Brendan Hall, Foreword by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (London: Adlard Coles Nautical, 2012; 236 pages; $19.95)
Review by James Williams
S/v Alizee, St. Petersburg, Florida

We all know that sailboat racing in any craft larger than a dingy is a team sport. The larger the boat, the greater number of crew and the more challenging the teamwork required to succeed. The first American recreational sailboat racing on New York Bay in the 1840s occurred on workboats called New York sloops. Twenty to 30-feet long with enormous rigs, they were ballasted with sandbags piled on the weather rail and took a crew of 10 to 15 to sail. Today, sailors aren’t hefting sandbags, but teamwork is still the foundation of successful racing.

ASA’s Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City, California, where I took sailing lessons long ago, began offering “team-building” sailing regattas for Silicon Valley corporate groups in 1986. The concept caught on in that youthful, high-tech mecca, and soon the Olympic Circle Sailing Club (OCSC) in Berkeley, California, got into the corporate-training field. Today, corporate managers easily can find team-building sailing programs, a sampling of which includes team challenges at Pacific Yachting, Adventure Associates, Schooner Woodwind in Annapolis, and Sunsail, the latter of which offers team-building programs in the British Virgin Islands, Port Solent in the U.K., and more recently, on San Francisco Bay.

In 1995, Sir Robin Knox Johnson, the first person to make a singlehanded non-stop circumnavigation, conceived the Clipper Round the World Race. Since its first race in 1996, Clipper Ventures has offered paying amateur crewmembers the chance to do the whole race around the world or on one or more legs of it on a fleet of identical yachts skippered by qualified captains. In contrast to the Global Challenge race, which has been run four times since 1992 with heavy, steel one-design yachts going westward against prevailing winds and currents, the Clipper race uses lighter, faster fiberglass boats and follows prevailing currents and winds. Thus far, eight races have been held, and crew applications for the 2013 race are currently open. <>

Team Spirit, by Brendan Hall, skipper of the Spirit of Australia, winner of the 2009/10 race, is a crisply written, deeply engaging account of the race as well as a wonderful primer on leadership and teamwork. Hall, a man with a remarkably healthy ego, is unafraid to confront himself, to explore both his strengths and weaknesses, and to learn from experience. Only 27 when he undertook the race, he is not your typical 20-something.

Hall begins by tracing his year of pre-race preparation, seeking out mentors from previous Clipper captains, and his early grasp of what makes a good leader. His chapter on training his crew, he confesses, is not what some sailors might expect, for he realizes here (and over and over again during the race) that sailing technique is only 20 percent of leadership — the other 80 percent is people skills. And, this is true not only for the skipper of the race, but for the crew as well, for whom 80-percent attitude easily wins over 20-percent aptitude.

At the end of each chapter, Hall offers real and succinct leadership lessons revolving around “what if” questions, judgment, feedback, and creation of a “no-blame culture” and more. Throughout the race, Hall and his crew learn early on to focus on long-term victory as opposed to short-term glory and to share responsibility for every aspect of bringing the Spirit of Australia safely through each leg and on to final victory.

Any sailor who races in a crew and any skipper who oversees a racing crew, whether it is on an E-Scow, a J-105, a Beneteau First, or even smaller two to three-person craft should read this book. I guarantee it will keep you on your seat’s edge and that you will learn a lot of very good things about leadership and teamwork. In the end, I’m sure any reader will be a better sailor for having spent a few hours with Team Spirit.

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World Voyage Planning

by Jimmy Cornell (Cornell Sailing, Ltd., distributed in North America by Paradise Cay Publications, 2012; 342 pages; $49.95.)
Review by Brian Koger,
Severna Park, Maryland

Buying, studying, and carrying this book on board should be mandatory for anyone contemplating a long-distance voyage on any of the world’s oceans. Jimmy Cornell definitely knows his stuff. Over the past few decades, he and his family have made numerous trips all over the world. Additionally, for this book he also asked almost 60 other highly-experienced cruisers for input and incorporated their knowledge into practical ideas for planning, preparation, and — perhaps most importantly — actually getting out there and sailing to those distant locations most of us just dream about.

The book reflects practical considerations, such as the proper number of crew (or whether it is advisable to have non-family crew on board at all), the comparative advantages of sailing in rallies versus making single-vessel voyages, the best times to make passages to the various destinations described in the book, places to head if an emergency stop is required, etc. Also, the destinations covered aren’t just the “usual suspects” of the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and South Pacific, but include such interesting locales as the Northwest Passage, Antarctica, and the Southern Ocean, to name just a few. To provide insight and interest to the discussions of topics and destinations, there are sidebars where cruisers provide personal stories to illustrate the points being made in the main text (e.g., a rundown of one boat’s annual cruising costs, how one sailor dealt with losing the engine almost immediately after leaving port, or tales of cruising the Amazon or Danube). Thist definitely makes the information “come alive.”

One of the most frequently-used illustrations in the book is the pilot chart wind rose, which thankfully is explained early on (pages 2-3). It took me a while to figure them out, but once I got used to them and “broke the code,” they were fairly intuitive. While the copy of the book I reviewed had some errors (e.g., in the Foreword, a sentence simply ended in mid-thought and another one started with no punctuation or break between the two), they were relatively minor and didn’t seriously detract from the readability of the book as a whole. If I could change anything in the book, however, I think it would be the lack of captions to accompany the illustrations. Some of the photos are quite interesting, but there were times when the text doesn’t mention what the reader is looking at, and there are often no captions for the pictures (although some pictures do have captions).

I would highly recommend this book to sailors anywhere. Even if you will probably never make it to Tahiti, there’s enough practical information included to enhance your sailing experience or at least give you something to dream about on a cold winter night.

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Turtles in Our Wake

by Sandra Clayton (London: Adlard Coles Nautical, 2012; 225 pages; $13.95)
Review by James Williams
S/v Alizee, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1998, Sandra and David Clayton decided to take early retirement in their fifties, buy a 40-foot catamaran and venture from the U.K. to the Mediterranean and beyond. Sandra kept a journal and wrote newsletters to friends tracing their travels from England via the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal to the Mediterranean, all of which evolved into a well-received book entitled Dolphins Under My Bed (2008). After a year’s trial on their catamaran, Voyager, the Claytons decided to make permanent their life on the water.  Turtles in Our Wake (originally published in 2009 in the U.K. as Something of the Turtle), focuses on their second year, exploring the Mediterranean Sea and making their way to the Madiera Islands in preparation for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Sandra is a wonderful writer and this is a cruising story that rises above most others I have read. Her descriptions of life aboard Voyager and the sites they visit, from the Balearic Islands to Sardinia and back to Spain, are filled with richness. She is self-deprecating and has a magnificent sense of humor, telling often laugh-out-loud vignettes of cruising life, from boats dragging for hours back and forth through anchorages, docking mishaps in strange and odd circumstances, ill-mannered powerboaters in crowded bays, and the general foolhardiness that all too often seems to happen on the water.

Turtles in Our Wake picks up in Menorca in the Balearic Islands, selling their house in the U.K., sorting out their possessions, and putting what’s left in storage. Although the first few chapters are a bit raggedly organized, Sandra nonetheless brings alive the pathos as well as the process of selling one’s home and sorting out one’s life possessions. Once things are settled up, Voyager truly becomes their home, and even the narrative finds a pleasant rhythm. Sandra artfully takes the reader from living on the hard in a boatyard through dozens of anchorages, historic sites, colorful villages, and encounters with people of every stripe as well as with dolphins, whales, and other sea life. Sailors will appreciate her take on resolving sailing issues, from dividing up chores on the boat and dealing with provisioning to refilling propane tanks, keeping engines running, navigating when one’s autopilot gives up the ghost, and getting caught by, and freeing oneself of, a drift net.

The final chapters of the book bring Sandra and David to Gibraltar, where they go into a boatyard to replace Voyager’s autopilot, fix engine problems, and then make a six-day passage into the Atlantic to Porto Santo in the Madiera Islands. This will be their jumping-off point for the Caribbean, a saga which Sandra tells in her forthcoming volume, A Thousand Miles from Anywhere, which is scheduled for publication in March, 2013 (Bloomsbury Publishing, U.K.). I won’t give too much away, but there are four more years of sailing ahead of the Claytons from the Caribbean, the Bahamas, America’s eastern seaboard, and northeast Canada, thence back across the Atlantic. Although they have not swallowed the anchor, they recently purchased a steel canal trawler in Holland to spend summers exploring Europe’s inland waterways. We can only hope that Sandra continues to share her stories with the rest of us.

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The Boat Galley Cookbook

by Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2012, 464 pages; $36.00)
Review by Rae K. Eighmey
St. Paul, Minnesota

Authors Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons have learned a lot about galley management and cruiser cooking since the first “big boat” charter they took with their husbands 20,000 sailing miles ago. Back then, they “helped out” the refrigerator chill plate during initial stocking by putting bags of ice around the food. At dinnertime, they discovered a solid block of ice encasing everything, including the “celebration” steaks.

Recounting this misadventure and a few others gives The Boat Galley Cookbook unmistakable authority from cooks who have been there, and makes the book a lot of fun to read. From their lessons well learned, Carolyn and Jan share experiences, provide tips, thoughtful considerations, and 800 recipes.

The easy-to-use 450-page book is about the size of a box of cake mix and weighs about as much as two cans of beer. Seventy-five pages are an introduction to cooking with a “galley frame of mind: equipping the galley for cooking and storage, provisioning —including a fascinating shopping tour inside a Central American “supermercado,” and ways to interact with locals to find the freshest seafood, meat, and vegetables. They explain sensible ways for stowing your foodstuffs so you can keep them at their best, suggestions for popular on-passage meals, a wide range of ingredient substitutions, and even storm preparation food strategies.

The basic recipes that make up the bulk of the book are well organized and indexed. Just about anyone could make any of these dishes. The authors give excellent step-by-step directions for some of the trickier cooking processes, often illustrated with black-and-white photographs. They are fun to read even if you’ll never use them. For example, if you are cruising inland North American lakes you are not likely to need to know how to kill a conch and make it suitable for feasting upon, but Jan’s explanation practically takes you dockside. It’s a great read.

I have one serious quibble with the book. It’s really not just for cooking on board a boat! The techniques and recipes are useful in any close-cooking situation — a small cottage kitchen in the North Woods where your boat is a daysailer or rowboat, an RV, or even a beginning apartment in New York City.

Carolyn and Jan are cheerful companions. Their on-the-boat adventures, vivid descriptions of engagements with the community of other cruisers, and in-the-galley expertise may be enough to tempt you into cruising, especially if you can take them along in the form of this handy, stowable book.

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