Run for the Devil

by J.J. Ballesteros (iUniverse, 2017, 282 pages; $18.95 print, $3.99 Kindle edition)

Review by Wayne Gagnon

Run for the Devil centers around protagonist Simon Donovan, a sailor who ferries people and supplies along the shores of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche aboard his 65-foot schooner, Siete Mares. He’d brought her there and started his business to re-boot his life. He has a good reputation as someone who follows the rules, and at the same time knows how to get things done.

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Sailing Acts: Following an Ancient Voyage

by Linford Stutzman (Good Books, 2006; 330 pages; $14.95 print, $9.99 Kindle edition)

Review by Gregg Bruff

This book is amazing on several levels. Not only is it filled with sailing adventures, but the adventures are in the context of a rich biblical and historical backdrop. The author-captain and his mate cruised the Mediterranean, but did so following the sailing routes of the apostle Paul during the height of the Roman Empire.

The author’s dream of following Paul’s travels began when he was a little boy in 1955, while looking through maps in the back of a Bible. Fast forward 50 years, and Linford was still dreaming of biblical maps and places to explore.

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Exposed: The Dark Side of the America’s Cup

by Alan Sefton and Larry Keating (Adlard Coles, 2017; 304 pages; $35.00 print, $9.99 digital)

Review by Dan Spurr

When this A-Z history of the Auld Mug landed in my lap, my first thought was: “I am so over the Cup.” Being somewhat on the fence between favoring “traditional” yachts, like the 12-Meter, designed to a developmental rule, and the current super-fast one-design foiling catamarans where execution is more critical than design and even tactics, I’ve tried to keep an open mind regarding the future of the world’s oldest sporting trophy. Opening the book to Chapter 1, “Endless Intrigue and Controversy,” and noting the authors are from New Zealand, I figured there’d be a good bashing of the New York Yacht Club, which employed various chicaneries to keep the Cup for 132 years—until the winged wonder Australia II wrested it in 1983.

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Memoir of a Skipjack

by Randolph George
(Salt Water Media, 2017; 188 pages; $21.95 print)

Review by Wendy Mitman Clarke

It is probably inevitable that a memoir of a skipjack is going to leave one feeling a little melancholy. There are so few of these working sailboats left on the Chesapeake, our very own indigenous species slowly going extinct before our eyes. All the more reason, then, that we’re lucky Randolph George has written Memoir of a Skipjack, a thorough accounting of the life and times of the skipjack Martha Lewis and the families and people whom she touched.

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Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening

by Liz Clark
(Patagonia, 2018; 320 pages; $35.00 print, $14.95 ebook)

Review by Michael Robertson

Full disclosure: Liz Clark is a friend. I followed her adventures in Latitude 38 magazine almost from the start, then had a good fortune to meet her in person in French Polynesia in 2015, as she was putting the final touches on this manuscript. I wrote her story for Cruising World (“Still Riding the Swell,” February 2017, https://www.cruisingworld.com/sailor-profile). So when I heard this book was out, I was eager to read it, and a bit nervous to review it — what if it missed the mark? How do you tell a friend their book doesn’t warrant a good review?

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All I Wish I Knew Before Setting Sail: A practical guide for short and long distance cruising in the digital age

by Christian Rinke
(Createspace, 2017; 340 pages; $17.95 print, $9.80 ebook)

Review by Michael Robertson

This book is aimed squarely at wannabe first-time cruisers who are ready to take concrete steps to casting off for a voyage. The author is a relatively young cruiser who bought a 1973 Columbia 34 in need of some attention, completed a total refit, and crossed the Pacific with his wife. Though the text contains a bit of motivation and insight, this is a practical distillation of the knowledge the author gained, from start to finish. It’s well-organized and touches on just about every subject I can imagine, from finding the right boat, to outfitting, to life aboard.

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The Next Distant Sea

by James Baldwin
(Createspace, 2017; 350 pages; $13.99 print, $4.99 Kindle edition)

Review by Jim Papa

This is the latest of James Baldwin’s books chronicling his life and travels aboard Atom, his dependable Pearson Triton. Baldwin’s narrative begins in 1992, with Baldwin living aboard Atom in Hong Kong, midway through his second circumnavigation begun “four years earlier in Ft. Lauderdale.” The book covers Baldwin’s voyage from Hong Kong to South Africa by way of the Philippines, the Spice Islands, Mauritius, and Madagascar over several years.

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The Cape Horners’ Club: Tales of Triumph and Disaster at the World’s Most Feared Cape

by Adrian Flanagan
(Adlard Coles Nautical, 2017; 296 pages; $27.00 print, $9.99 Kindle edition)

Review by Lin Pardey

As a nautical author, I know why Adrian wrote this book. There is nothing quite as satisfying as reliving your sailing adventures by committing them to paper (or electronic files.) The highs, the lows, the beauty and the inner turmoil, you can relive each detail as you review your log book, look at your photos and let your mind drift back through each watch, each sail change. And when the adventure you undertook tested you severely, the catharsis of laying it out in words helps you regain perspective. However, the job of a reviewer is not to sympathize with the author, it is to help potential readers decide if they should invest time and money in yet another story about sailing through potentially dangerous turbulent seas, in a remote area where few will ever venture.

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Captain Cook’s Final Voyage: The Untold Story from the Journals of James Burney and Henry Roberts

edited by James K. Barnett
(Washington State University Press, 2017; 321 pages; $34.95 print)

Review by Brian Fagan

Captain James Cook was the preeminent navigator of his day. His three voyages of 250 years ago are classics of exploration and pilotage. Cook’s charts are still useful. Out of interest, I’ve used them in Polynesia myself and found them invaluable. The Admiralty sent the exhausted navigator on his third and final voyage in 1776. He was to search for the Northwest Passage and map the Pacific coast of North America. Cook’s wanderings took him to New Zealand and Hawaii, then to the Oregon Coast, Vancouver Island, also Alaska and the Bering Strait, where he identified Cook Inlet. He died at the hands of angry Hawaiians, the Discovery returning home after a voyage to Kamchatka and China.

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Jean-du-Sud and the Magick Byrd

 by Yves Gelinas, translated by Karen Caruana (59 North, 2017; 169 pages; $24.99 paperback, $9.99 Kindle edition).

Review by Karen Larson

Some sailors know Yves Gelinas as the nice guy behind the counter at boat shows selling Cape Horn windvanes, modeled on the windvane he built in 1981 for a world circumnavigation. Alberg 30 sailors know Yves as an icon because he made this voyage on Jean-du-Sud, his Alberg 30, after making some modifications to strengthen the hull and rig. Some know Yves as the famous Canadian from Quebec who set out to circumnavigate non-stop and to set a record with the smallest vessel to round Cape Horn. Others know him as a successful filmmaker and the winner of numerous awards for his full-length video, With Jean-du-Sud Around the World.

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Spindrift: A Wilderness Pilgrimage at Sea

 by Peter Reason (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016; 194 pages; $23.95 paperback, $23.95 ebook).

Review by Gregg Bruff

“Spindrift – spray blown off the crests of waves in winds of gale force and above. For sailors in a small boat, spindrift is the sign that forceful but workable conditions are becoming dangerous.”

If you have an affinity for sailing and the earth we live with, you should read Spindrift by Peter Reason. It’s that simple. Never have I found a book written by a sailor, about sailing, who can not only convey the fascinating and engaging details of a voyage, but who also can discuss and clarify big picture cultural and ecological concepts with his readers.

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Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire

by Wendy Hinman (Salsa Press 2017; print $20.00, Kindle $5.99)

Review by David McDaniel

Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire is a real rattlesnake of a tale chronicling the adventures, and misadventures, of the Wilcox family as they sail their way around the world in the early 70s. Leaving a comfortable home behind, the family makes their way out of San Francisco Bay aboard their 40-foot wooden sailboat, Vela, bound for Hawaii and all points beyond. And who better to pen the Wilcox’s story than Wendy Hinman, now spouse of Garth Wilcox, who later relived a similar voyage with Garth aboard a 31-footer? Considering her intimate connection, the story of the Wilcox’s circumnavigation surely took form for the author via bits and pieces related by each family member over time – especially by Garth, the one participant for whom the family’s adventure ultimately rang loudest.

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Kidnapped from the Caribbean


by Todd Duff (Seaworthy Publications, 2017; digital $2.99, print $14.95).

Review by Sarah Moore

Todd Duff’s novel is a thrilling adventure revolving around human trafficking, boat theft, international intrigue, and drug cartels. Though fictional, the book is based on several real stories of human trafficking. This gives a sharper edge to the story.

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Marine Diesel Basics 1

by Dennison Berwick (Voyage Press, 2017; print $15.99; Kindle $7.99)

Review by Robin Urquhart

Here we have a practical, illustrated guide for marine diesel engine maintenance. The main advantage of this guide is its clear and simple illustrations. This guide fills a gap where a person is just getting into diesel engine maintenance. Sometimes Nigel Calder’s books assume a level of knowledge that the neophyte mechanic simply doesn’t possess. Imagine trying to tell somebody how to check the oil that has no idea what a dipstick looks like or where on the engine to find it. Berwick’s guide is a huge asset for those wishing to get a little more hands-on in the engine room due to its simple, visual directions.

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Kings of the Sea: Charles II, James II & The Royal Navy

by J.D. Davies (Seaforth Publishing, 2017; Hardcover $29.95).

Review by Brian Fagan

Everyone has heard of the Great Fire of London and the plague of 1666. You may have read of the diarist Samuel Pepys’ bawdy exploits with a wide variety of young, and not so young, women. What is not widely known is that he was a respected naval administrator. But he played a less important role in what was effectively the founding of the Royal Navy than he, and many historians, would have us believe. David Davies uses his historical expertise to reveal what he pleasingly calls the “elephant in the room”—the two opinionated, sea-loving Stuart monarchs who built ships, took voyages themselves, and made Britain’s navy a force to be reckoned with. Kings of the Sea brings Charles II and James II to the historical center stage, especially the latter during his years as Duke of York and Lord High Admiral (a splendid title). His autocratic influence on naval affairs was immense, but often carefully hidden by Pepys.

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Broad Reach

 by Rob Avery (Jack Tar Press 2017; print $14.95, Kindle $3.99)

Review by Michael Robertson

Rob Avery is back, with the second smart, nicely crafted crime story in the series narrated by our protagonist, Sim Greene. Following a life-altering roller coaster ride of murder and deception and a lost love in the first book, Sim boarded his beloved Figaro and sailed south from Southern California to Panama and up to the Caribbean, looking for a new life with a bit less drama. But the Virgin Islands turn out to deliver everything but the peace and tranquility that lures tourists by the thousands. Instead, Sim finds corruption at levels he could not have imagined, and an unlikely ally in his quest to get his friend Al out from under false murder charges.

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Still Water Bending

by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Head to Wind Publishing, 2017; print $17.00; Kindle $5.99)

Review by Michael Robertson

I’m eager to tell you that the last book I read before picking up Still Water Bending was Lit: A Memoir by best-selling author Mary Karr. This is notable because the depth and poetic quality of Clarke’s prose is, page-for-page, on par with Karr’s. In case I’m not being clear, this is high praise.

Both authors are award-winning poets and equally skillful at leveraging their poetic perceptions to communicate the sensibilities of their characters and the true nature of the settings they inhabit. But here I’ll stop drawing comparisons because Clarke’s work stands alone. And it’s not a memoir, but a novel, a work that is equal parts lush and enveloping, and sharp and unyielding.

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Taken By the Wind: The Northwest Coast, A Guide to Sailing the Coasts of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska

by Marilyn Johnson (Createspace, 2016, 384 pages, print $44.95)

Review by Sara Dawn Johnson

Say you are planning a summer cruise from the Puget Sound to British Columbia, or maybe as far as Southeast Alaska. You’ve probably got a pile of guidebooks on your nightstand already; you spend your winter evenings perusing them, planning the anchorages and towns you’d like to visit. Besides filling your sailboat with food and fuel, you’re ready to go. But before you do, there’s one more book you need: and that is Taken By the Wind by Marilyn Johnson.

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Tales from the Captain’s Log: from Captain Cook to Charles Darwin, Blackbeard to Nelson—great voyages in their own words

by The National Archives (Adlard Coles 2017; 304 pages; hardcover $35.00)

Review by David McDaniel

Polar expeditions, naval battles, discovery, piracy, mutiny on the high seas…these are but some of the themes contained in Tales from the Captain’s Log. As the title implies, this collection of historical tales has been reproduced directly from actual ships’ logs and personal journals of the great men who sailed the oceans in the 17th and 18th centuries, a period long considered the Golden Age of Sail. Commanders, ships’ doctors, and even inmates frequently penned wonderfully vivid accounts aboard sailing vessels, providing today’s reader glimpses into their lives at sea. These documents have been preserved by the British National Archives and were selected as the foundation for this enlightening volume, transcribed and narrated by a host of authors.

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A Darker Sea: Master Commandant Putnam and the War of 1812 (A Bliven Putnam Naval Adventure)

by James L. Haley (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, November 14, 2017, 400 pages, print $27.00, eBook $13.99)

Review by Sara Dawn Johnson

I’m fond of books that take me back to another time, as if I’ve slipped through a portal, to experience our human history in person. A Darker Sea is one of those books.

Award-winning historian James L. Haley has written another gripping story of midshipman Bliven Putnam. The first in series details Putnam’s naval adventures in the Mediterranean and Tripoli; for this second installment, Putnam has returned stateside and been given command of his own ship, the modest USS Tempest. When the United States declares war on Great Britain in 1812, and although outnumbered in ships 50 to1, Putnam goes forth without hesitation to serve his country.

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Barefoot Navigator: Wayfaring with the Skills of the Ancients

by Jack Lagan (Adlard Coles Nautical/Bloomsbury, 2nd Edition 2017; hard cover; $22.00)

Review by Brian Fagan

It’s wrong for hoary mariners to bemoan the evils of GPS and the loss of traditional navigational skills. Nonsense, as Jack Lagan points out in his Barefoot Navigator. His extended exploration of the art of navigation is not about ultra-precision, but an informed excursion through the arcane history of navigation and traditional navigational methods that are invaluable, even if you have all the seductive machinery of the electronic age to guide you. In Part 1, Lagan takes us on a six-essay exploration of the “skills of the ancients.” There are the usual Polynesians and Viking participants, but now refreshing to see respectful treatment of Arab navigators and the Indian Ocean, also of Chinese expertise, much underrated in the West. He ends with Portolan charts and other better-known tools of the Renaissance navigational toolkit.

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Nefarious

by Antonio J. Hopson (Anaphora Literary Press 2017; 260 pages; paperback $20.00)

Review by Chas. H. Hague

It is Race Week in the Salish Sea, north-northwest of Seattle, Washington. This is important to many of the characters in Antonio Hopson’s novel Nefarious, but not because they want to win any of the races, at least not mostly.

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Rogue Waves: Anatomy of a Monster

by Michel Olagnon (Alfred Coles Nautical, 2017; paperback $30.00)

Review by Jim Papa

There is, perhaps, no more ephemeral and monstrous a phenomenon than a rogue wave. A ship that meets one may suffer grave damage or even disappear before a Mayday can be sent. And yet the sea is no different in the wake of a rogue wave than it was before.

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A Man For All Oceans; Captain Joshua Slocum and the First Solo Voyage Around the World

A Man for All Oceans book coverby STAN GRAYSON (Tilbury House Publishers with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2017; 400 pages, hard cover; $29.95)

Review by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wisconsin

Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s I became obsessed with the idea of owning a sailboat after seeing one on a trailer with a “For Sale” sign hanging from the bow, and soon found myself reading everything I could get my hands on related to sailing. Then Time magazine had a little blurb about the upcoming BOC Challenge, a single-handed, around-the-world sailboat race, and mentioned that Joshua Slocum was the first man to pull off a single-handed circumnavigation. Naturally, I went to the library and read his book, Sailing Alone Around the World. A few years ago my daughter bought me a copy for Christmas and I read it again with a greater appreciation for what Slocum accomplished, no doubt because by then I had my own boat and some sailing experience on Lake Michigan. That’s a rather long introduction to a book review, but it’s my background that caused me to jump at the chance to review this book..

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Sailing Into Retirement; 7 ways to retire on a boat at 50 with 10 steps that will keep you there until 80

By Jim Trefethen ( International Marine, 2016; 244 pages, Print $25.00; eBook $15.99

Review by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, WI

When author Jim Trefethen wrote Sailing Into Retirement, he combined some information from his previous book, The Cruising Life, first published in 1999, with a second, updated edition in 2015. But, in the author’s own words, “I have tried not to duplicate material…but to build on it, especially where specific subjects pertaining to elderly sailors are involved.” In the past 40 years he’s owned and sailed several boats on several oceans, so he knows whereof he speaks. He’s also in his 70s, which adds to his credibility, so being that I’m in my mid-60s myself, I felt it was worth a look.

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Who’s The Captain?

BY MARY LAUDIEN, ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAVE ALAVOINE ( Createspace, 2016; 56 pages, Print $13.99; eBook $7.99)

Review by Carolyn Corbett, Lake Shore, MN

Who’s the Captain? is a 56 page picture book of sailing life according to Dad and his crew. The humor in the text is accentuated by clever, colorful cartoons. Older kids who are familiar with the ins and outs of sailing will appreciate the humor and little ones will love the cartoon characters.

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And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air

Book Cover - And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind

BY BILL STREEVER ( little Brown, 2016; 308 pages, Print $26.00; eBook $13.99)

Review by Brian Fagan, Santa Barbara, CA

Bill Streever is a biologist and a well-known nature writer. He and his wife, Lisanne, are novice cruising folk, who boldly set off on a cruise from Galveston, Texas, to Mexico’s Yucatan with only a very brief sailing course under their belts. They set sail in a 50-foot yawl, which strikes one as foolhardy, until you realize that Bill takes weather forecasts very seriously indeed. They enjoyed a remarkably incident-free cruise, which speaks volumes for their calm acceptance of the vagaries of the sailing life.

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More Than You Think You Know

Book Cover: More Than You Think You Know

BY CYNDI PERKINS ( Beating Windward Press, 2017; 215 page, Print $18.95

Review by Karen Larson, Founder, Good Old Boat Magazine

Not in all the years that hundreds of sailing books have landed on my desk for review have I thought that a novel was destined for the leap from boating literature to mainstream reading and popularity on the big charts. This vault above all the rest of the books I’ve reviewed is all the more amazing because it is a first novel by a woman who has been a writer all her life but never the author of a book.

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Parrotfish Cay

 


BY VERN HOBBS (CREATESPACE, 2015; 316 PAGES, PRINT $9.95; EBOOK $4.95)
REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON, GOOD OLD BOAT

Vern Hobbs’ third novel is his best one yet, and the other two are very good. An artist and contributor to several sailing magazines, including Good Old Boat, Vern began his journey as an author in 2010 with Flying Fish, a detective work focused on a Florida fishing community harmed by political whims in Tallahassee and a large firm seeking to develop a local casino. From there, Vern’s readers were captivated by the live-aboard community described in Mudfish Creek, published in 2013. This time the characters (and an interesting collection of salty caricatures they are) are brought together by the mystery left behind in the will of one of their former dockmates.

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The Boat Drinks Book: A different tipple in every port

BY FIONA SIMS (ADLARD COLES NAUTICAL, 2017; 176 PAGES, PRINT; $20.00; KINDLE EBOOK, $9.99) REVIEW BY TOM WELLS, GOOD OLD BOAT, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

I read the title, The Boat Drinks Book: A different tipple in every port. I expected I’d find inside a cold and factual catalogue of all of the boat drinks I’d ever tasted, and perhaps a couple of new ones. As soon as I begin to read it, I remembered how very wrong first impressions can be.

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