ACROSS ISLANDS AND OCEANS: A JOURNEY ALONE AROUND THE WORLD BY SAIL AND BY FOOT

BY JAMES BALDWIN; 2012 ATOM VOYAGES.COM; 370 PAGES
($9.95 PAPERBACK; HTTPS://WWW.CREATESPACE.COM/3786486;
$1.99 EBOOK FOR KINDLE; HTTP://WWW.AMAZON.COM/DP/B00738SYEG)

REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON

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.

Continue reading

WORLD CRUISING DESTINATIONS

BY JIMMY CORNELL (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW-HILL, 2010; 432 PAGES; $49.95)
REVIEW BY SUSAN LYNN KINGSBURY

… 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.

Continue reading

SHRADER MARKS: KEELHOUSE

BY ROB SMITH (DRINIAN PRESS, 2012; 440 PAGES; $15.95, $4.99 KINDLE)REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON

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?

Continue reading

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

 

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.

Continue reading

CALY’S ISLAND

BY DICK HERMAN (AUTHORHOUSE, 240 PAGES; 2011; $14.99 PAPER; $2.99 KINDLE AND NOOK)
REVIEW BY CHAS. HAGUE

 

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).

Continue reading

THE LATEST NEWS FROM PURGATORY COVE

AS TOLD TO PAUL ESTERLE BY PAUL ESTERLE (LULU, 171 PAGES; 2012; $15.95)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

THE LIMBUS OF THE MOON

BY BILL MEGO (<WWW.BILLMEGO.COM>, 2011; $24.95; 360 PAGES)
REVIEW BY CHAS. HAGUE

 

The Limbus of the Moon is a novel in the mold of a Dan Brown thriller, or at least it tries to be. Viator venenatusis 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.

Continue reading

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

 

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

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

 

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

CRUISING CONVERSATIONS WITH A DARING DUO

BY CHARLES AND CORINNE KANTER (SAILCO PRESS, 2011; 364 PAGES; $19.95)
REVIEW BY CHAS. HAGUE

 

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.

Continue reading

GONE TO THE SEA: SELECTED STORIES, VOYAGES, AND PROFILES

BY HERB MCCORMICK (PARADISE CAY PUBLICATIONS, 2011; 313 PAGES; $16.95)
REVIEW BY DAN SPURR


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.

Continue reading

Book Reviews From 2011

Reviews From 2011

February 2011 Newsletter

April 2011 Newsletter

June 2011 Newsletter

August 2011 Newsletter

October 2011 Newsletter

December 2011 Newsletter


AShipShapeSailboat™

Maintenance Management Software for Sailboats from the AssetCare Division of Intelligent Maintenance™ LLC (<www.intelligentmaintenance.com/sailboat/>), $59.95 + $5.95 shipping and handling).
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, WA

AShipShapeSailboat is a feature-rich software program (Mac & Windows). These features include very detailed maintenance plans as well as a records center that includes “Equipment Log” and “What’s Aboard” modules where a skipper can keep track of all essential items installed or stowed aboard their vessel. In effect, this program can become the go-to point for essentially all data about your boat.

Most of us keep a maintenance log that includes a modest list of key events — routine engine maintenance (oil, filter, raw-water impeller replacement), fuel filter changes, replacement or service of major electronic components, etc. A brief scan of the more than two dozen maintenance modules in this program quickly reveals how much more we could be doing to enhance our maintenance program and further reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises while out cruising. These maintenance modules range from “Cleats and fairleads” through “Engine,” “Exhaust system,” and “Fuel system” to “Winches and windlass” and “Woodwork.”

Realizing the full power of this program comes at a price — a significant front-end investment of time spent entering data about your vessel and its recent maintenance history. But, in return, a skipper can enjoy several benefits including alerts on overdue maintenance items, a comprehensive and well-organized maintenance record, and detailed checklists for pre-season, mid-season and winterization. These checklists would be valuable even if a skipper chose to set up and use only a few of the maintenance modules.

Bottom line — this program can be an important tool in a well-structured maintenance program, as well as the comprehensive data center for the boat. After living with this program for several weeks, I think that few recreational sailors would choose to utilize its full capabilities, but almost all skippers would appreciate seeing the maintenance checklists and receiving the maintenance alerts for the modules they do choose to use.

Back To Top


Doctor On Board: A Guide to Dealing with Medical Emergencies

by Jurgen Hauert (Sheridan House, 2010; 96 pages; $19.95 paperback)
Review by Brian Koger
Severna Park, Maryland

First published in German in 2008 as Medizinischer Ratgeber an Bord (translation: Medical Advice on Board), this handy guide covers medical issues that require more than the standard first aid taught by the Red Cross, Scouts, etc. Although there is also advice on treating minor issues so they don’t turn into major medical situations (e.g., hyperventilation, sunburn, etc.), the book deals mainly with serious emergencies such as heart attacks and amputations. Topics are presented in quick-to-read snippets with very easily understood step-by-step instructions, complete with illustrations in the form of color drawings or photographs. The illustrations are not of the “gross-out” variety and aim to rapidly clarify what to do rather than simply show just how bad an injury can look in real life.

The book has been “Americanized” so temperatures are given in Fahrenheit as well as Centigrade and references are made to US-based resources (e.g., the advice on accidental poisoning refers the reader to the American Association of Poison Control Centers rather than some place in Europe). While many of the spellings are in British English (diarrhoea, anaemia, etc.), they are nevertheless easily understood.

Most of the situations covered apply not only to sailors far out to sea, but also to those near shore or in an inland body of water where professional help could still be quite far away (either in time or distance). Although the book covers how to request professional help, it focuses on what to do before that help arrives — invaluable in the case of a true emergency. While doctors or other medical professionals may second-guess some of the specific advice, the text repeatedly advises the on-scene caregiver to get on the radio and ask for help and request instructions from medical professionals. Additionally, it covers something people might not think about until faced with an emergency situation: how to get the victim off the boat without causing further injury to the person or damage to the boat and/or rescue craft.

One caveat about the book is that it assumes the boat has a full-blown medical kit on board that includes such devices as wound staplers and hypodermic needles. I know my boat doesn’t have a kit like that and I start feeling out of my league when faced with anything more complicated than a regular-sized adhesive bandage, but this book offers a recommended list of what to have on board and — perhaps more importantly — gives the reader the confidence to take those crucial first steps to stabilize patients and provide them the help they need until they can get professional help.

I would highly recommend this book to sailors anywhere. I consider it cheap insurance that could help to prevent a medical emergency from turning into a disaster.

Back To Top


True Spirit: The True Story of a 16-Year-Old Australian
Who Sailed Solo, Nonstop, and Unassisted Around the World

by Jessica Watson (Atria Books, 2010; 368 pages; $16.00)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

The subtitle pretty well sums up the “plot” of this nonfiction story except to say that the Australian teenager who sailed back into Sydney Harbour on May 15, 2010, was a girl. A young woman. A very young woman with a dream who started planning her trip some five years prior to her departure. A young woman who joined the ranks of Jesse Martin, Tania Aebi, Zac Sunderland, Mike Perham, and David Dicks. The night before she set sail (for the second time, but that’s another story), she said to her parents, “Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and sail around the world.” And that’s what she did.

Jessica tells her story in a perfectly teenage way, though with surprising maturity. The young woman rounding Cape Horn was a long way from washing dishes to pay for sailing experience!

The book is divided into three sections: The Starting Point, The Voyage and Home. The first section is told in a conversational manner, introducing those who would become her shore team and sponsors, detailing her plan and how she made it come true, and telling how her parents coped with both the idea and the fallout from public opinion.

The second section of the book, the journey itself, is a combination of blog entries she made while underway, along with additional background and detail that draw the reader into her adventure. This reader began to question if she was sailing with Pollyanna until the author ‘fessed up that at the beginning of the voyage she kept her lower moods to herself in order not to worry her parents. Then there are lists. What she missed most about land/home. What she would miss most when the journey was over. Maintenance lists.

The third section tells of her return to port, sailing the 33’ Ella’s Pink Lady into the harbor to a pink carpet welcome by a huge crowd of Australians, including the prime minister.

A number of nifty extras make the book a winner. There are 16 full pages of photos, Jessica’s health chart from before and after the voyage, several of her favorite recipes and three appendices. The appendices include: A Guide to Ella’s Pink Lady, which labels the parts of the boat; Internal Guide, which does the same thing for the interior, and a glossary. An icon appears periodically throughout the book to alert readers to video on Jessica’s YouTube channel that was taken live at the time they are reading about. Definitely a unique twist, and a good one! This book is worth the experience.

Back To Top


Gentleman Captain

by J.D. Davies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2010; 320 pages; $25.00)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, IL

Most of the stories about adventure on the high seas — be they Hornblower, Aubrey, Amanda Garrett, or Richard Sharpe* — have several items in common: a young, smart, daring hero; an older subordinate who provides mature wisdom; a fast ship; intrigue and daring-do on great waters and, depending on when it was written, a certain amount of sex . . . Gentleman Captain has all of these elements. The difference is that, although those other stories are usually set in the late 18th or early 19th century, this story takes place in 1661, immediately after the English Civil War when Charles II sits uneasily on the newly restored throne of England. Thomas Quinton is a 21-year-old scion of a warrior family who somehow has been given command of one of His Majesty’s ships even though he has no nautical experience and only wants a commission in the Guards. Through ignorance and bad advice, he loses his ship. There are more ships than captains, though, and he is given the Jupiter, a single-decker whose captain has just died (or was he murdered?) and sent off to look into weapons smuggling in darkest Scotland.

This story grabs the reader less by the action than by the characters Davies surrounds Captain Quinton with. There is Kit Farrell, a skilled sailor who teaches his captain the ropes — literally; Captain Judge, a foppish sycophant who wears elaborate wigs and Egyptian robes on his quarterdeck; James Vyvyan, nephew of the former captain of the Jupiter, determined to find the people responsible for his uncle’s death; LeBlanc, the French sailmaker; Colin Campbell of Rannoch, the Highland chieftain; and Cornelius van der Eide, a captain in the Dutch navy and, interestingly, Quinton’s brother-in-law.

All of these characters have secrets, and practically no one is who he appears to be. This keeps young Captain Quinton guessing, right up to the climactic battle in the narrow waters off Glenrannoch, where Quinton acquits himself.

Davies’ prose is a bit turgid in places (“her eyes flashing like the broadside of a sixty-gunner”) but once he finds his groove the story moves right along. We can look forward to Captain Quinton learning seamanship and command skills in succeeding books.

*I know, Sharpe is set mostly on land, and Garrett is 21st century, but you get my drift.

Back To Top


Saving Sailing: The Story of Choices, Families, Time Commitments
and How We Can Create a Better Future

by Nicholas D. Hayes (Crickhollow Books, 2009; 240 pages; $22.00)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Nick Hayes, a market researcher, interviewed over 1,000 sailors and would-be sailors between 2003 and 2009 to gather material for this book. According to his figures, fewer than 1% of Americans are self-described sailors today. In the late 1980s, almost 10 million middle-class Americans called themselves active sailors.

Hayes’ concerns? Why isn’t sailing, the activity that has given his family so much pleasure amid the glorious aesthetics of the sea, the most irresistible pastime in the world? Why the decline not only in sailing, but in other active pastimes of American families? Hayes takes on not only the ebbing interest in sailing, but the dwindling of family togetherness as a whole. Wide-ranging as that objective is, his intentions in writing the book seem genuine.

His premise? In the introduction, Hayes sounds like a litigator. He says right out that he will present a case that the way we use our free time has enormous consequences for us, the people around us and potentially for the generations that follow. “I will show…I will distinguish . . . I will propose . . .We will consider . . . We will use . . . We will focus . . .” In the third chapter he is still telling us what he is going to tell us.

His approach? Hayes intersperses his findings and his opinions with vignettes consisting of composite characters patched together from the people he interviewed. In so doing, Hayes fails to project sufficient authority and, therefore, sufficient confidence on the part of the reader. Unfortunately, the characters feel like characters, not real sailors.

His answer? The choices people make in how to spend their “real available time” — about 55% of Americans say they simply do not have enough time to sail.

His solution? Mentoring. Rather a simplistic wrap to the entire family togetherness quandary, but would that it works. Saving Sailing ends with an action plan — “Specific ideas on how to rescue the Life Pastime.” Potential readers might like to scan this conclusion prior to purchasing the book.

The gist of it all? Saving Sailing could be subtitled “A Lite Look at Life Pastimes.” Nevertheless, it is an easy read and the author is enthusiastic about change in a direction that we all, undoubtedly, support. More present and future sailors? That’s good. More family together time? That’s good. Anyone who supports those goals. Again, good.

Back To Top


The Fyddeye Guide to America’s Maritime History

by Joe Follansbee, ed. (Fyddeye Media, 2010; 394 pages; $24.95)
Review by James Williams
Daytona Beach, Florida

Joe Follansbee’s Fyddeye Guide to America’s Maritime History is advertised as the “most comprehensive guide to historic ships, scenic lighthouses and maritime museums.” It contains over 2,000 listings of ships, lighthouses, museums, maritime research centers and organizations and has some nice black and white photographs and three or four short but somewhat inconsequential essays. Overall, it left me foundering, as though navigating the stacks of the Library of Congress without a well-thought-out catalogue.

Unfortunately, the book is not very well organized. Following a preface and brief introduction, 12 chapters, varying from two to 86 pages, contain listings of maritime history topics, each listed in slightly different ways. Chapter one, “Ships,” lists over 600 ships, ferries, tugboats, warships, steamers, and others and is organized by the type of vessel listed. Want to just look for ships in your state or region? You’ll have to plow through all the listings to do it. Want to look for sites by city? Go to the main index, but you will not find sites indexed by states, subjects, national parks, state parks or any other imaginable way, which is a shame.

Subsequent chapters offer other organizational approaches. The “Museums,” chapter is organized into two large groups — maritime museums and other museums — and within each the listings are by state. This is considerably more useful than the type-of-ship organization in chapter one, but here, again, the Guide’s main index is of little help. Chapters on “Lighthouses and Lightships” and “Life Saving Stations,” are listed by region. Also, three maps are added to the lighthouse listings, but they are not well tied to the listings, a problem that suggests another listing methodology might have been employed: a numerical identification for each listing with an alphabetical prefix or suffix for each chapter (e.g., S120 for Ships, listing 120; M31, for Museums, listing 31). Added to the main index, this would be an extremely useful way of quickly finding listings.

Additional chapters include one covering maritime heritage districts, such as Merrill’s Wharf Historic District in New Bedford, Massachusetts; markers and monuments, such as the National Rivers Hall of Fame in Dubuque, Iowa; and stand-alone “structures and sites,” such as the Municipal Ferry Terminal in San Pedro, California. Another chapter lists maritime organizations, from the National Park Service’s Maritime Heritage Program to the Dorchester Skipjack Committee in Cambridge Maryland, and two chapters, which could have been combined, list education programs and research libraries.

Although it might not be fair to point out omissions, I cannot help but mention a couple. The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), authorized in 1919 by the U.S. Congress and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, is a linear historical site most worthy of listing, along with some of its component parts, such as the Dismal Swamp Canal, opened in 1805 and still the oldest continually operating canal in the U.S. Also, perhaps because Follansbee includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in his compilation of sites, I was surprised not to find listings from the Bahamas, much closer to the eastern seaboard and a regular destination for many American sailors. How could one leave out the Elbow Key Lighthouse in Hope Town, Abaco? It is one of the last operating kerosene-fueled, first-order-Fresnel-lens lights in the world, and the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society which is responsible for its preservation and continued operation is a very active organization, closely linked to the United States Lighthouse Society (which is listed).

And, I don’t want to be picayunish, but more careful copyediting might have caught the error in presenting latitudes and longitudes given for many of the Guide’s listings. Unfortunately, they are given, for example, as “Latitude 38.7037 Latitude -76.3386.” I suppose those of us who are close to the sea will recognize the error, but it’s a shame it wasn’t caught before press time. Moreover, it may make readers wonder how many other errors there are in the Guide.

My observations aside, I am greatly impressed by Joe Follansbee’s effort to assemble this guide. It was no small task and the fact that he lists all the resources in the Guide on his website, <www.fyddeye.com>, and is updating, adding overlooked sites and resources, and offers a keyword search capability makes the project all the more worthwhile. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a fully searchable CD-ROM with active links to resources with, or in addition to, the printed version?

Back To Top


Passage To Nirvana: A Survivor’s Zen Voyage —
Reflections on Loss, Discovery, Healing & Hope

BY LEE CARLSON (HENRY CHAPIN & SONS, 2010; 342 PAGES; $17.95 PAPERBACK; $9.99 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY BRIAN KOGER
SEVERNA PARK, MD

Just as no one should read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance expecting to get step-by-step instructions on swapping out the piston rings on his Harley, this is not a book to teach how-to information about sailing. There are passages about sailing and boats; passages about the interesting people one meets on distant islands; passages about the liveaboard life and the bonds that form in the boating community; passages about . . . well, passages made on sailboats — but far and away, this book is about Zen Buddhism, particularly as it relates to the author’s personal spiritual journey. If you approach it with that understanding and if that’s what you want to read about, you will not be disappointed. The author discusses his Buddhist beliefs at length, but does not spend nearly as much time on the subject of boats or sailing, although he is a liveaboard sailor.

Lee Carlson was an accomplished writer and editor until he was accidentally run down by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI — a term that now appears frequently in the media since it is often associated with injuries to military personnel). The story of Carlson’s injury and the slow recovery process (including a nasty divorce and horrible experiences with the legal and insurance systems) make up the majority of the book. Some of it is interesting reading, but the author tends to repeat himself and belabor points that were made earlier in the book (which the reader almost feels guilty for noticing — that’s the nature of his injury, after all).

Carlson also discusses his mother’s tragic experience with a TBI (from a fall down a flight of stairs from which she never recovered) and also offers some interesting insight into the series of concussions suffered by Ernest Hemingway that eventually led to that author’s inability to write, his severe depression, and ultimate suicide. TBI is clearly a subject that means a lot to Carlson and he wants to get the word out about the nature of such injuries and their effects on people.

The book is a very quick read, mostly because the author’s injury keeps him from concentrating too long on a given topic, so the writing is broken up into short chapters. They are usually prefaced by a short poem he calls a “Po” (abbreviated form of “poem”) that provides the theme for the chapter. The chapters themselves may be a few sentences or several pages in length; no long slogs of reading are involved, although some of the Zen stuff is rather esoteric. Throughout the book, Carlson repeatedly returns to the subject of Zen Buddhism and his personal spirituality. That’s neither good nor bad, unless you were expecting to read a sailing book.

Back To Top


BULL CANYON: A BOATBUILDER, A WRITER AND OTHER WILDLIFE

BY LIN PARDEY

 

(Available for presale at http://www.paracay.com/nautical/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=6646; Full release in May; $22.00 until book is released.)

REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

With her newest book, Bull Canyon, a Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife, Lin Pardey makes it clear why she has such a following among her sailing readers: she’s a great observer of human nature and a natural storyteller. In this case, she writes about the four years she and Larry spent living in the California hills while they were building Taleisin.

The focus in this book is primarily on the Pardeys’ developing relationship, the cast of colorful characters living nearby, family politics, the march of civilization into the California countryside, and the evolution of Lin’s career as a writer. Although many years have passed since their time in Bull Canyon, Lin remembers events in excellent detail and recreates each scene with humor and honesty.

Any storyteller must have stories to tell and Lin is able to find them by the bushel wherever she and Larry wander, whether on land or sea. These two have consistently chosen the road less taken, which just happens to be where the best stories occur. They wind up in out-of-the-mainstream places where other strong-minded individualists (characters in every sense of the word) tend to congregate. Bull Canyon in the late 1970s and early 1980s was one such place.

The Pardeys’ very special characteristics, emphasized in this book, are their can-do spirit and positive attitude. Their good-natured acceptance of complications and their ability to get things done with their own hands makes anything possible. As a result, these two have accomplished much in life.

They are not confounded when the house they’ll be living in leaks profusely and is overrun by rats. The road washes out and firestorms threaten. They dig in, fix up, make do, and enjoy almost every moment. When the going gets particularly tough, the Pardeys seem to gather people around and celebrate. As a result, Lin and Larry have been having a wonderful life together, one well worth telling about . . . and Lin tells it well.

This book, while of great interest to the Pardeys’ sailing fans, will also be read and enjoyed by non-sailors. With it, Lin the storyteller has bridged the divide between sailors and landsmen and will touch readers of every inclination.

Back To Top


WOMEN ON BOARD CRUISING

EDITED BY LISA TARGAL FAVORS (FAVORS VENTURES, LLC, 2010; 251 PAGES; $24.95)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT
LAKE SHORE, MINNESOTA

Stop right there, guys! Let’s not be blowing off this book as Girl Stuff Only. The fact is that three-fourths of the folks who pre-ordered the book were men. A number of gents are buying the newly released book as a gift to wives or partners, to share with them the joys and realities of living aboard a cruising boat.

The 25 women contributors to the newly released book candidly share their fears and adventures with vulnerability, enthusiasm, practicality and humor. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had before I took off on my first seven-month cruise through the Bahamas. It’s a book from which couples can learn the fundamentals of cruising in the areas they will be traveling, which may not necessarily include Fiji or Christmas Island.

Some of editor and long-distance cruiser Lisa Targal Favors’ salty women have circumnavigated the “Loop” – the Eastern United States from the heartland rivers to the North Atlantic seaboard to the Great Lakes. Others have sailed around the world. Favors herself has 20,000 miles of cruising experience, including two 6,000-miles loops aboard her boat, Kismet.

A number of the Women on Board Cruising selections offered bulleted lists of tips, “need-to-knows,” and lessons learned, which help break up the tiny-sized font in which the soft-cover book is printed. For example, Darcy Searl’s selection, entitled “This is an adventure, not a vacation” offers the following suggestions:

  1. Ask a lot of questions.
  2. Purchase or borrow the cruise guides, as well as the charts, of all the areas you will be traveling.
  3. Keep a road atlas on your boat.
  4. Purchase a pair of communication headsets (marriage savers).
  5. Become a member of America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association if you plan to do the Great Loop.

Each vignette carries a “been-there-felt-that” mood, and pictures of each author make a nice visual addition. Bernadette Bernon of Cruising World magazine says, “It’s like sitting down with a cup of tea and a support group of experienced fellow cruisers who can’t wait to show you the ropes . . .” It brings to this reader’s mind a similar excellent book for women sailors, Diana Jessie’s The Cruising Women’s Advisor, the second edition of which was released three years ago. Anchored in experience, both books address questions common to those considering sailing off into the sunset.

Back To Top


FUNDAMENTALS OF MODEL BOAT BUILDING

BY JOHN INTO AND NANCY PRICE (SCHIFFER PUBLISHING, LTD., 2010; 160 PAGES; $34.99)
REVIEW BY SANDY WELLS
COLUMBIA, MISSOURI

My love of sailing guided me into building detailed ship models, and much of what I’ve learned along the way came by trial and error. My learning curve would have been much less steep if Fundamentals of Model Boat Building had been available.

John Into and Nancy Price have produced a very detailed, step-by-step guide that takes the reader from “Learning to Think Like a Model Maker” to the final product. The book centers on making a model of the Annie Buck, a Chesapeake Bay Deadrise workboat. Along the way, they discuss the research and planning that is required to produce an accurate model. They introduce the materials, methods, and techniques used to produce the model form and its intricate details. They describe the choices available for finishing the model, and they end the book with a nice photo gallery showing several examples of completed models. I looked at this book from the perspective of a fellow model boat builder and found the explanations and terminology easy to follow. With that in mind, I asked my husband, who is a sailor but not a model builder, to look it over and he told me it’s a fascinating read.

John and Nancy’s skill and their love of their art both come through in this book. Others who build models or might be interested in doing so would do well to add Fundamentals of Model Boat Building to their reference library.

Back To Top


Bucking the Tide: Making Do and Discovering
the Wild New England and Fundy Coasts in a $400 Yacht

by David Buckman (Eastworks Publications, 2010; 212 Pages; $19.00 +$4.00 S&H)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Leight’s captain and owner describes his vessel as a wreck that leaks “like a White House aide.” She is a $400 18-foot homemade cruiser in tough shape. The crewmembers are “as green as grass.” As David Buckman and his two-person crew explore the wild New England and Fundy coasts, the “half-pint vessel” encounters “miles of dramatic coast . . . breathtaking vistas . . . and dungeons of fog.”

When writing tools were handed out, David was apparently issued a lifetime supply of run-on sentences and overused adjectives but a dearth of periods. Bucking the Tide is a self-published book in need of a copy editor at its helm. Harsh? Um, note the subtitle.

Sentences running 60 to 70 words are common. Chapter 6 is 91 pages in length — nearly half the book. The sheer quantity of words lashed together, along with an onslaught of adjectives, creates a barrage of verbiage. A crisper telling would have been a blessing.

That said, you can’t help but like the guy. You can’t help but cheer him on. You can’t help but wish that you were David Buckman, at least for a while. He is an enthusiastic, optimistic, admittedly low-experience sailor, at least as presented in this book about his early sailing adventures (since those days as a newbie, he’s spent another 69 years sailing). And sincere. He’s sincere. The cover of his book describes a story that “touches on the blessings of economy, simplicity, resourcefulness, doing a lot with a little” and how the $400 investment in a dilapidated sloop (a Lightning he shortened from 19 to 18 feet by lopping off a foot of rotten wood at the stern and adding a new transom) led to the adventure of David’s lifetime.

His observations are keen and his descriptions of local folk and scenes are a pleasure to visualize from the comfort of couch or cockpit. David maintains, from experience, that if people know where to look, the raw materials of extraordinary experiences can be found close at hand. “We’d bucked the tide of convention in a modest way, had gone to great lengths, close to home for next to nothing, and found our native sea, soil, and life possessed of heroic proportions.”

The book contains a selection of photographs from the trip along the New England and Fundy coasts along with a number of well-done illustrations. Several chapters end with an inspiring quote from Thoreau or other Wise Ones. Readers who can get past the grammatical issues are likely to enjoy the story.

Back To Top


Catboat Tales

by William Winslow (Blurb Publications <www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1772983>; 2010; 70 pages; $51.95).
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

“You wake up to a beautiful sailing day with fleecy clouds scudding across a blue sky on gentle zephyrs of wind. Pack the lunch. Apply the sunblock. Let’s go sailing.” And so begins one of the 32 short essays in Catboat Tales.

Though not in chronological order, these little 1- to 2-page tales written by William Winslow are a collection chronicling the creation of the author’s backyard-built 18-foot catboat and sailing it around his home waters at the north end of Long Island, New York.

Each essay is a whole story in itself so the lack of order does not detract from the book, which covers a period of 13 years from the boat’s launch in 1995 to its sale in 2008. Many of the essays were previously published in the Catboat Association Bulletin.

For the most part, I found the stories to be enjoyable and lightly humorous, such as the alcohol stove that caught fire and had to be doused, then buried at sea or the overweight old gent whose attempts to climb back on board after a skinny-dipping excursion provided a sea of laughter for the other two crewmembers. These were usually combined with some sort of hard-earned and practical lesson, such as don’t put the fire extinguisher behind the stove and rigid ladders are better than rope ladders.

Though the reader can readily glean little tidbits about the specific sailing characteristics of catboats, this is not a book about sailing catboats. It’s about sailing in a backyard-built wooden sailboat that just happens to be a catboat.

At only 7 by 7 inches, this book is relatively small. It is also hardbound and too big to put into anything smaller than a large coat pocket or purse. Other than that, Catboat Tales might be great to carry around for those times when you have two or three minutes to spend while waiting for a child or spouse.

My only wish was for the book to be longer. It has large print and, with 32 photos and illustrations taking up page space, at only 70 pages, it is quite short. A fast reader could easily read the whole thing in less than 30 minutes. I did find a couple of the photos to be striking and, if enlarged, would probably make great wall prints.

Back To Top


Larke, El Capitan And The Theory Of Everything

by Hugh MacMullan (Xlibris Corporation, 2010; 157 pages; $19.99)
Review by Brian Koger
Severna Park, MD

At the opening of the book, Hugh MacMillan (who has been a past contributor to Good Old Boat magazine) has just gotten a reprieve from a potentially terminal cancer diagnosis, and while he relishes the fact that he now has a longer lifespan ahead of him, he also realizes that life is finite and he needs to act on that fact while he can. He then embarks on a short cruise from the Philadelphia area to Maryland’s upper Chesapeake along with his younger brother (the “El Capitan” from the book’s title).

The author is a gifted storyteller. His remembrances of growing up in the 1950s, life-changing events, such as his learning experiences as a young officer in the pre-Vietnam Marine Corps, and — most importantly to this book — the tale of his southward voyage from his home to his brother’s home on an 18-foot sailboat named LARKE make quick and entertaining reading. His tendency to use bizarre plot devices (for example, a genie in a bottle and a sea monster) are explained later in the book as his usual way of embellishing stories to make them more entertaining to the youngsters in his family. Unfortunately, some adult readers may find such contrivances a bit clunky or off-putting (for example, I couldn’t get the “I Dream of Jeannie” theme out of my head while reading the passages featuring the female genie). Similarly, if the reader does not share the author’s fascination with hook-and-line fishing, there are parts of the book that may prove a bit tedious.

Completely dismissing the book on that basis would be a shame, as the author has much to say and it is worth paying attention to. His philosophy, which is best summed up as “Life — and particularly life within a family — is a gift to be enjoyed and treasured to the fullest,” is not a bad way to approach things, and summarizing life metaphorically in a short sailing cruise is a classic way to present the subject. If the reader can ignore (or, if he or she so chooses — embrace) the insertion of genies, etc., there is much that can be learned.
MacMullan hints that he has subsequently made more cruises on LARKE. It will be interesting to learn what he gathered from those voyages as well.

Back To Top


Optimizing The Trailerable Sailboat

by Paul Esterle, Capt’n Pauley Productions <www.captnpauley.com>; 336 pages; $27.95 (print), $13.50 (download)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Illinois

Those of you who have read Paul “Capt’n Pauley” Esterle’s articles in Good Old Boat and his column in Small Craft Advisor are already familiar with the kinds of things that he has developed to make good boats better for daysailing and weekend cruising. Here is an entire book of them.

This book (there is also a video) contains almost 100 quick fixes, devices and gadgets that the good Captain has installed on his boat, Ternabout. The book is divided into 11 chapters: The Boat; Cabin, including gear holders and improving ventilation; Galley (including recipes!); Electrical; Cockpit; Deck/Cabin top, with instructions on repairing dings and replacing windows and pulpits; Hull; Engine; Sails and Rigging; Electronics (VHF and GPS, hand-held and fixed-mount); and Trailer. Every chapter has several suggestions and ideas to make one’s boat a more pleasant place. Capt’n Pauley describes the problem, lays out several possible solutions, then explains what he did in his easy to understand style. His article on mast raising systems, for example, goes into several different rigs and includes cautions about dealing with the hazards of handling the ungainly weight aloft.

Another great thing about his ideas is that they are inexpensive and use materials easily available, such as his waste bin/cutting board and perfectly serviceable curtains from kmart!

The book is spiral bound with plastic laminate covers—an advantage, since it will lie open on a workbench for easy reference. There are plenty of photos and drawings to explain the devices being proposed.

This book is a flipper—one does not read it cover to cover so much as flip through it, checking out Pauley’s ideas and getting inspiration for one’s own boat projects. I already have plans to adopt at least half a dozen of the Captain’s improvements to my own new/old boat.

Back To Top


Circumnavigating Low Key: Where a small boat
and a smaller budget lead to a big adventure

by Captain Woody Henderson (Sheridan House, Inc., 2010; 208 pages; $23.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Wondering why the author’s name sounds familiar? He is the very Captain Woody whose column has graced the pages of Latitudes & Attitudes magazine each issue for 11 years now. Here he is in his own book, telling the story of his circumnavigation aboard Low Key, a 33′ sloop. Captain Woody tells his story with the same humorous, down-to-earth (sea?), irreverent tone with which faithful readers of his articles are well familiar.

Woody’s account of his circumnavigation couldn’t be much different than Jessica Watson’s in her book True Spirit (reviewed in the February 2011 newsletter). Jessica’s story is about sailing around the world. Woody’s is about sailing around the world. His sketches and sagas, told in his distinctive style, of adventures ashore bring the book to life. Hey, the sailing parts are great, too, but Woody and crew stopped to smell the hibiscus. And quaff a few ales.

The chapter titles give potential readers a taste of what is to come:

  1. We’re sinking
  2. Tiki bars
  3. And then there was one (when his girlfriend left)
  4. In trouble with The Man
  5. How do porcupines mate?
  6. Man (Person?) overboard
  7. Work?!!

Packed with lively repartee and droll humor, Woody’s tale may remind readers of Jimmy Buffett himself. It’s a comfortable book. It draws you in, then makes you want to read “just one more chapter” before setting it down. It makes you want to be aboard the next time Woody sails out of the harbor. And it makes you drool over the eight pages of color photos that supplement the word pictures.

Woody says, “I got clear of cars and rent and bills and the rest of the mania that we all participate in when we are home in the States. Life slowed down and quality increased. The world opened up and revealed a thousand great experiences. I was back in the land of showering off the swim step, hiking waterfalls, getting to know the locals and enjoying three-stop shopping: bakery, fruit stand, vegetable market.”

Buy the book. Read the book. Enjoy the book. It’s time well spent.

Back To Top


The Ultimate Book Of Decorative Knots

by Lindsey Philpott, (Skyhorse, 2010; 627 pages; $29.95)
Review by Richard Skaff
Los Angeles, California

The art of tying knots is many centuries old. From sailors to mountaineers, from riggers to rescue workers, knots have been intimate companions for many professions.What better way to edify this old art than to have it condensed in one volume that illustrates every aspect of the art of making knots.

Lindsey Philpott, a rigger and teacher of contemporary marlinespike seamanship as well as a forensic expert of knot analyses in criminal cases, has written a marvelous book that captures the art of tying. The volume is beautifully designed and makes a fabulous piece of art that deserves to occupy any coffee table.

The book consists of a wonderful cornucopia of rare and exotic decorative knots. It contains 1,600 colored illustrations of every existing knot, starting with flat knots and ending with yacht wheel marker knots.

Philpott’s book begins with a brief history of tying that dates back to at least 380,000 years. In addition, it covers every knot that ever existed from all over the world, making it a distinct treasure chest saturated with useful information for anyone who harbors interest in this artisanship. From jewelry, macramé and holiday decorations to covering knots, knob knots, ornamental knots, and flat knots, the volume makes the most daedal patterns look easy and fun to make.

This volume is comprehensive, yet clear and precise. It is intense, yet fun and entertaining. From braids to plaits to sinnets, this book will take the reader on a panoramic journey to the land of knots through step-by-step instructions for tying hundred of types of knots both useful and artistic. It will also furnish the reader with directions to find the correct tools, materials, and the specialty shops that carry them. The chapters flow smoothly and deliver a significant amount of information that covers the whole gamut of knot land. It also contains a terrific glossary and a clear index that will help you find the knot of your choice.

The book is a terrific and thorough reference on knots, and will make a great read for sailors, mountaineers, rock climbers, firefighters, rescue workers, linesmen, riggers, campers, and anyone who has an interest in tying knots. It will even arouse interest in the knot indifferent.

Back To Top


Rescue Warriors

by David Helvarg (St. Martin’s Press, May 2009; 384 pages; $25.95)
Review by
Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

The United States Coast Guard has rescued more than a million people since its founding over 200 years ago. Most folks know about the Coast Guard rescue services. Boaters generally also know that the Coasties provide boating safety courses, license mariners, and inspect recreational, commercial, and fishing vessels. Not to mention flying around in those orange helicopters, making their presence generally known.

David Helvarg, author of Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America’s Forgotten Heroes, introduces additional Coast Guard roles in safety, security, and stewardship that may be unknown to many readers. For example, their duties are not blue water only. It is the “Inland Coast Guard” that responds when there is flooding or tornadoes in the Midwest, or a highway bridge collapses. They are also responsible for icebreaking operations on the Great Lakes. They cover a huge area. The U.S. Coast Guard’s largest district, the Eighth District, serves the heartland, protecting 1,200 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland navigable waterways. Covering 26 states, the Eighth District ranges from the Appalachian Mountains and Chattahoochee River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west, and from the U.S. – Mexico border and the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border in North Dakota.

As a multifaceted branch of our military, the Coast Guard:

  1. maintains buoys, lighthouses and other aids to navigation
  2. investigates maritime and bridge accidents
  3. enforces fishing and mammal protection laws
  4. inspects offshore energy production facilities
  5. seizes illegal drugs and migrants at sea
  6. conducts waterfront security patrols and directs port traffic
  7. responds to environmental concerns, including oil spills and water pollution
  8. works with foreign coast guards
  9. fights in foreign wars
  10. supports scientific research at sea

Of particular interest is the training of the helicopter pilots; the mechanics who maintain the choppers, run the hoists, and direct the pilots during a rescue; and the rescue swimmers. The Coast Guard’s standardized training is now so advanced that crews can be mixed and matched as needed. A pilot based in Florida and a swimmer stationed in Texas can operate as smoothly as a crew that has been flying rescues together for years.

Helvarg has amassed a great deal of information, from the establishment of the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 to the present-day challenges the Coast Guard faces in the wake of 9/11. The flow of the book, however, is hindered due to a preponderance of lengthy sentences overflowing with punctuation. In addition, it is somewhat disconcerting in a nonfiction book written in the third person to have Helvarg periodically insert himself onto the pages. It is particularly jarring when that commentary consists of frequently unflattering opinions about government agencies, prominent officials, and the other branches of the military. His digression to tell the reader of the “whore bar” he frequented in Belize probably wasn’t necessary either.

Nevertheless, this book offers some great information. Ignore the opinions and enjoy this tribute to the men and women who respond to more than 125 distress calls every day.

Back To Top


The Ditty Bag Book: A Guide for Sailors

by Frank Rosenow (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011; 127 pages; $14.95)
Review by James Williams
St. Petersburg, Florida

This is a magnificent little book for anybody who wants to do his own sail repair or fancy canvas work. First published in 1976 by Sail Books, Frank Rosenow’s The Ditty Bag Book was reissued again in 1982. Now, thanks to the author’s son and Skyhorse Publishing, it is available in paperback.

Rosenow (1944-1993) learned his nautical skills growing up in Marstrand, Sweden, raced and sailed cruising boats, and later apprenticed himself to master sailmaker Gunnar Andersson. In the 1970s, while continuing to cruise, he became a columnist for Sail magazine, where he is remembered for his award-winning pencil and watercolor illustrations. He also wrote Seagoing Knots (1980), Sailing Craft (1983) and Canvas and Rope Craft for the Practical Boat Owner (1988), all of which are still available through online book dealers.

Rosenow divides The Ditty Bag Book into two parts, tools and processes, and begins with the absolute basics. He describes the sailmaker’s bench and how to use it, what sort of clasp knife one should use, how to sharpen it and take care of the sharpening stone, what needles to use and how to care for them, how to choose and use a sewing palm, using beeswax to prepare the twine, and the sorts of twine to use. He takes you through the use of the sailmaker’s hook, types and uses of prickers, and spikes and fids, all the while making recommendations along the way as though he is your personal mentor. He clearly explains the craft of worming, parceling, and serving rope or wire rigging to protect against dampness and chafe as well as heaving tools and wire locks.  Finally, he shows you how to sew in rings and grommets and goes over traditional and wire rope, tape and canvas. All of this is beautifully illustrated by his drawings on the use of the tools.

Now you are ready, in part two — processes, to employ all you’ve learned. Rosenow takes you first through the step-by-step process of making a ditty bag, from the seams you’ll sew, cutting the material to size and then sewing it, running and roping seams, adding decorative touches, making the lanyard and a turk’s head slider. Truly a guidebook, you’ll learn by making your own ditty bag, just as apprentice sailmakers did in the past, and then you can get more practice by following Rosenow’s directions for repairing and patching damaged sails, palm-and-needle whipping, making chafing gear, creating a rope fender and, finally, splicing.

Ben Fuller, curator of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine, says: “Reading this little volume and practicing the skills therein is like being an apprentice to a master sailmaker, showing you everything from tool selection to the details of how to hold a needle.” I couldn’t agree more, and despite a couple of minor production errors (for example, the cover illustration is not the one described in the cover note written by Rosenow), I give it my highest recommendation.

Back To Top


Sail Tales

by Robert Engel (Xlibris Corp, 2009; 224 pages; $19.99)
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

According to author Robert Engel, “Sail Tales is about the adventures a humble sailboat owner had over the years.” Spanning 43 years of sailing — and still going strong — he’s had plenty enough adventures to select 56 to tell us about: good, bad, and in-between.

Captain Bob’s book contains many hard-earned tidbits of nautical wisdom, such as the simple fact that the timing of a sailboat trip cannot be predicted. He says, “If you need to get to a certain place at a certain time, take a bus, not a sailboat.”

I believe any sailor will find the two pages of sailboat “rules” Bob includes to be both funny and heartbreakingly true, including:

  • Nothing on a boat is level or square.
  • A rule of physics: on a boat there is no such thing as an easy, quick job.
  • If two sailboats are in sight of one another, it’s a race.

The book is organized into seven sections, mostly in chronological order. The first four sections are organized according to the progressively larger boats owned and sailed at the time, with a short history of each boat.

Bob’s first tale is how, as a former powerboat owner, he had unknowingly joined the ranks of the insane — “those special people who own and sail sailboats.” A large number of his sail tales take place along the eastern shore of Long Island, New York, and between the two arms of the north end. The rest take place in Virginia Beach and south into Florida. Bob repeatedly attempts to describe the Long Island area, but any reader not intimately familiar with the north end of Long Island will soon wish he had included a map illustration in the book.

For the most part, the stories are interesting and often humorous. Some, like “Upgrading Evening Star,” were a little tedious, but even that tale had a nugget of gold at the end.
I felt that a few of the stories were not very well composed, even amateurish, though the underlying story was good.

Words such as “horsepower” were split into two and the articles have unusual comma usage. The lack of an editor became rather annoying and seems strange, considering the author is a retired English teacher.

The stories are all short — most are only three or four pages. With 56 tales in 217 pages, it’s a nice little book to keep handy for when you have a few minutes to fill (though it’s not a “pocket book”).

After all, who among us doesn’t enjoy a nice sail tale?

Back To Top


The Pirate’s Bastard

by Laura S. Wharton (Cut Above Books, Second Wind Publishing, 2010; 168 pages; soft cover; $11.95.)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

Laura S. Wharton’s debut novel The Pirate’s Bastard, is set in colonial America in the first half of the 18th Century. This was an exciting place, especially for a young, ambitious man like Edward Marshall who epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit that made America a haven for him and those of his ilk. With dreams of becoming a shipbuilder, merchant, and businessman, he is well on his way to establishing a reputation as an honest, hardworking individual, learning and earning as he absorbs all he can to make his dream come true.

We first meet Edward as a young boy whose father had left his wife and their prosperous sugar plantation in Barbados years earlier to live a life of adventure as a pirate. He eventually ended up on the gallows in Charleston, but not before fathering Edward by his French mistress, who died in childbirth, giving Edward the moniker “The Pirate’s Bastard” around Bridgetown. To Edward’s good fortune, as a young child he was befriended by the Reverend Jonathan Eubanks, the local Anglican minister in Bridgetown, who became the father that Edward never had. Edward resented his lineage and the trouble it caused him, so when Reverend Eubanks invited the nine-year-old to join him in his new assignment in Brunswick, in colonial Carolina, Edward jumped at the chance. The story picks up fifteen years later when we see Edward in early adulthood making a name for himself as an aspiring entrepreneur in his adopted town, where he still seeks the advice of the aging Reverend Eubanks, whose friendship Edward still cherishes.

The Pirate’s Bastard is an OK read, but there were a few things that I felt were incomplete. Some of the characters develop quite nicely in the heart of the novel, but they seem to disappear when they could have been a larger feature and made a heftier contribution to the story, thereby adding to the intrigue. Similarly, the plot seems to lose some of its pizzazz about three-quarters of the way through and the story seems to fizzle, which is unfortunate because there are two features that lend a certain amount of credibility to the story: 1) Wharton has done her research and we get a fairly good idea of what life must have been like in the colonies; and 2) She also has a firm grasp on the nautical world in that era, which makes that part of the story come alive. In spite of this, however, The Pirate’s Bastard’s shortcomings could leave the reader wondering if, or perhaps more accurately, why the author ran out of steam toward the end of the project, which, in the beginning, showed such potential.

Back To Top


Living Without Reservations:
A Journey by Land & Sea in Search of Happiness

by Barbara Singer (Hear Me Roar Press, 2010; $18.95; 436 pages)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

When 44-year-old Barbara Singer walked away from a life that had become increasingly difficult, she did not walk directly aboard a boat. She took a road trip from Pennsylvania to Alaska and back before signing on as paid crew on a sailboat in the Caribbean. It was an excellent time for a midlife reinvention. Her only kid had gone off to college, she had divorced, and she’d fallen in love with a man who had suddenly died.

Singer’s journey became what she calls an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience. As she listened to tapes by Neale Donald Walsh and Deepak Chopra, and read books by Brian Weiss and Shakti Gawain, she began awakening. “Not waking up like I am sleeping, but wake up my soul like it was asleep . . . knowing what I want is the only thing I have to do and then let the universe handle the rest.” She made 3×5 cards to read each morning and night. Affirmations. Judgment keeps us from joy. Life is always a result of our thoughts. Expectation makes us unhappy. She assures readers that anyone can have an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience, can re-engineer their own lives.

The first two weeks of island hopping aboard the sailboat led her to learnings, a bit of re-engineering of thoughts about sailing. Not quite what Neale & Deepak teach, but legitimate learnings nevertheless . . .

  1. You must really love a dog to have it on a boat.
  2. Weather forecasters lie.
  3. We don’t sail, we motor.
  4. We don’t go fast. I can run faster than the boat.

Singer is selling the “You can do this too” line prevalent in those who have recently sailed off into the sunset, perhaps a bit more directly than most. Her second book is already available to teach you how to follow in her wake. Readers need to confront themselves, she says.

  • Would you rather have a plane ticket or a mortgage?
  • Would you rather have freedom or a paycheck?
  • Would you rather have a backpack or a walk-in closet?
  • Would you rather live your dream or watch it on reality TV?

She offers a series of tips on how folks can free themselves from life ashore: Liquidate your home. Sell your car. Get healthy. Forget about security and responsibilities. Then, Happy Happiness Search!

Back To Top


The Power & The Glory

by William Hammond (U.S. Naval Institute Press, October 2011; 256 pages; $29.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

I have been following the adventures of Richard Cutler since 2007 when the first of a projected seven-book series of novels was published. A Matter of Honor and For Love of Country, the first two novels in the series, were marvelously written and brought history alive in a most cogent and entertaining fashion. Book three in the series, The Power and the Glory, picks up where Book two leaves off. It does not disappoint.

A Matter of Honor takes place during the Revolutionary War. For Love of Country is set during the first decade after the war, when the infant republic and the Cutler family are forced to confront the attacks of Barbary pirates off the coast of North Africa and the outbreak of the French Revolution.

In the third novel in the series, Richard Cutler’s generation has married, watched their children grow older, gained business and political experience, and is playing an ever expanding role in the political and social events of the day. It is the late 1790s. War breaks out between the United States and France. It is a war fought without Congressional approval and entirely at sea in the West Indies. The newly minted U.S. Navy takes center stage with two of her first and finest “super frigates” seeing action against the French Navy at sea and against an island refuge for French privateers.

In The Power & The Glory, Richard Cutler serves as a lieutenant on the USS Constellation during her epic sea battles against French frigates L’Insurgente (depicted in the book’s jacket) and Le Volontaire. He also serves a brief stint on the USS Constitution, rubbing elbows there and elsewhere with such real-life naval heroes as Thomas Truxtun, Silas Talbot, Andrew Sterrett, Isaac Hull, and John Dent.

Bill Hammond’s characters, both fiction and non-fiction, are all three-dimensional and based on exhaustive research. His depictions of life at sea are compelling to lubber and mariner alike. But he does not stop there. At the core of all his novels is the great love affair between Richard Cutler and his English-born wife Katherine, a love nurtured by the children and family and friends they foster together.

Before I finished the first book, the central characters had become people near and dear to my heart. They are my friends and neighbors. They are people I care deeply about.

I highly recommend this historical fiction series. It’s as good as the novels of Patrick O’Brian. Start with the first book and read all three — then wait, as I must, with great anticipation for the release of Book four and other novels in the series.  Bill Hammond is a master writer of nautical fiction whose literary gifts are yours to enjoy.

Back To Top


Life Down Here

(CD); Derrick Hampton, performer/songwriter; RocDoc Publishing <http://www.amazon.com/Life-Down-Here/dp/B0040T1IS0>; $8.99.
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, IL

Derrick Hampton seems to want to be another Jimmy Buffet but that’s okay. The world needs more talented singers writing about sailing, and the sun is always over the spreaders somewhere . . .

Most of the ten songs on this professionally produced CD are about getting to, sailing around, or relaxing in the islands, which is an idea rather than a fixed geographic location. The images invoked by “A Sail and a Song,” “Shades of Blue,” “Humidity Stupidity,” and “Open Waters” are of sun, sand, and warm oceans: “I’ve been thinkin’ it’s time for an adventure / Headin’ out into the open sea / I’m tired of this long dark cold cold winter / I need some warm relief and some company.”

A different tack is taken by the song “Between the Devil and the Sea” about the HMS Victory sinking in the 1840s, and “Honor among Thieves.”

This is a CD you’ll want to have on as you admire the sunset off Antigua with a cool one in hand and a warm lady nearby; or, alternately, while snowbound in the Midwest to keep up your sailing spirits.

Back To Top


Voyages in Desperate Times

by Jule Miller (CreateSpace, 2011; $11.95 ($6.95 Kindle)
Review by Don Launer
Forked River, New Jersey

In the early 1940s, madmen were taking on the civilized world — and winning. The Nazis controlled most of Europe and were preparing to conquer the British Isles. The Japanese had decimated the U.S. Pacific fleet, and the United States and its allies were losing the war.

Off the East Coast of the United States, German U-boats operated freely, with little opposition, sinking our cargo ships and tankers. As the title of Jule Miller’s latest book — Voyages in Desperate Times — indicates, those were desperate times requiring desperate measures. One of these measures was the commandeering of personal yachts, mostly sailboats, to conduct rescue operations along the East Coast for the thousands of sailors whose ships were sent to the bottom by the German submarines and to patrol the coastal waters and report by radio, in coded messages, the presence of any U-boats. The sailors of this unlikely line of defense were termed the “Hooligan Navy,” a term that was first applied as denigration but soon adopted by those sailors as a badge of honor.

Jule tells about those times as a story-within-a-story. Although fiction, it is based on very real historical events and is true to the mores and feelings of that time — I know, because I was in the service during those years.

One of the two amalgamated stories, told in the first person, is about a young lady who is driving her grandfather from his home in Milford, Connecticut, to the funeral of an old friend in Vermont. She had always wondered about his World War II experiences in the Hooligan Navy and asks him about them.

His experiences, in the second story-within-a-story, are described in the third person and cover a period from just prior to WWII in the mid 1930s until his time aboard the 54-foot Alden schooner, Tiger Lily, during the desperate years.

The juxtaposition of the past and the present in the two stories works perfectly. It is said that you just can’t put some books down. I found that to be very true in this case. Not only does Voyages in Desperate Times capture the spirit and the differences of these two time periods, it also offers vivid insight into a moment of history that is all but forgotten. This is enhanced by Jule’s extensive knowledge of the sea and sailing, as well as the history of those years.

Back To Top


A Pirate’s Christmas Wish

(CD) by The Bilge Pumps (http://thebilgepumps.com/treasure.cgi?cat=music&pid=CD-APCW), $15.00
Review by Amy Flannery
Washington, DC

If you like drinking rum, saying “Aargh,” and you’re looking for a Christmas CD with a pirate twist, you’ll love the Bilge Pumps’ A Pirate’s Christmas Wish. It’s bound to please anyone with a streak of irreverence and a propensity for piracy. The Bilge Pumps take traditional Christmas songs and replace the lyrics with pirate fare.

“Silver Bells” becomes “Pirate Yells.”

Pirate yells, (yaaar) pirate yells, (yaarr)
It’s Christmas time on the high seas.
Plundering, killing things, soon it will be Christmas Day.

“White Christmas” becomes “Blue Christmas.”

I’m dreaming of a blue Christmas
with every lover that I slew.
May your days be filled with gold and brew,
and may all your Christmas’s be blue.

One of the most delightfully bizarre songs on the CD is “Kwanzaa Pants” sung to the tune of “Oh Christmas Tree.”

Oh Kwanzaa pants, oh Kwanzaa pants,
how festive are your colors.

Your brilliant hues, your dulcet tones,
have scrambled all my rods and cones.

The Bilge Pumps hailing port is Dallas/Fort Worth, which is pretty darn far from the sea for pirates. In addition to their CDs, they have a busy schedule of live shows. Their performances combine sea songs, shanties, and Celtic music with a large dose of silly comedy. The group consists of five men who look fabulous in pirate regalia and play a variety of instruments including steel drums, kazoos, hand drums, and guitar.

Craig Lutke, who’s pirate name is Maroon, is the band’s producer and distributor. His company’s name is Ibidis Mortem Productions <http://www.ibidismortem.com>. In addition to Bilge Pumps CDs, Ibidis Mortem offers an eclectic collection of assorted esoteric stuff such as a lady-on-stilts performer, wild west and medieval stunt shows, and hand-crafted steel drum mallets.

Though not a song, one of my favorite pieces on the Christmas CD is “A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas.”

‘Twas the night before Christmas and far out to sea,
the pirates was sleeping as snug as could be.
Cept me (the lookout), I’m walking the deck.
I knew if I didn’t, they’d sure stretch me neck.

So now you can imagine, it was quite a surprise,
when a light in the distance come into me eyes.

I peered through the spy glass, then let out a hoot,
for out on the billows I spied some old coot.

There was nary a reindeer and neither a sleigh,
but eight silver dolphins was pulling a red dinghy my way.

So if you’re tired of the same old Christmas tunes and looking for something salty, check out the Bilge Pumps’ A Pirate’s Christmas Wish. It’s the closest you may ever come to spending Christmas at sea on a pirate ship. For a good laugh and to learn more about the Bilge Pumps, visit their website: <http://www.thebilgepumps.com>.

Back To Top


Dolphins Under My Bed and Something of the Turtle

by Sandra Clayton, (Wheatmark, 2008; 277 pages; $21.95 and 2009; 216 pages; $18.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

“But what is happiness? . . . If I have learned anything at all by this
stage in life, it is that happiness comes from within not from without.”
Sandra Clayton, Dolphins Under My Bed

Readers of Sandra Clayton’s two autobiographies, Dolphins Under My Bed and Something of the Turtle, will experience her passage firsthand and in living color.

Clayton’s writing style is honest and from the heart. When her worst nightmare is realized — her husband decides they should retire early and sail away for health reasons, she is terrified. Although she enjoys everything associated with sailing, she does not like sailing itself. But one day she sees a Sea Cat and notices how it handles as other sailboats thrash around.

She tells her husband that she will sail — if they get a catamaran.

And so the story begins. Dolphins Under My Bed is ultimately the story of finding oneself and the journey getting there.

In Spain, the Claytons find Voyager, a 40-foot Solaris Sunstream, and they spend two weeks sailing her home to England with the help of a skipper. Once home, the planning begins, which in itself turns out to be part of the journey. Then they set sail, their original goal, to spend a year in the warm waters of the Mediterranean and then to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

As they voyage from England to the Channel Islands, to France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and finally, to the Balearic Islands, the author describes each port, the weather conditions, the sky, and the sea as if they are indeed characters in the story (which they become). This technique truly captures the readers’ attention, as does her depiction of the people they meet along the way, and how they survive the storms, turbulence and boat repairs.

“I think that in the right circumstances it must be possible to get drunk on stars. Certainly, after a dark and stressful night, I am pleasantly tipsy on these.”
– Sandra Clayton, Something of the Turtle

The saga continues in Something of the Turtle. Clayton and her husband David decide to sell their home and keep only the worldly posessions they absolutely need. This ends up being more difficult than once thought — what to keep and what to get rid of? And even worse than that are all the obstacles and delays they encounter when selling their home.

At last they are free, and the stress is gone.

Their journey begins again where they left off, in the Balearic Islands. From there they continue to Sardinia, back to the Balearic Islands, to Spain, Gibraltar, the Atlantic, and finally, the Madeira Islands.

The author’s superb storytelling style and perceptive descriptions of everything — from lost appetites and sleep deprivation to tiny droplets of moisture-illuminating spiderwebs and sea turtles swimming by — again hook readers as these determined sailors follow a path to becoming true bluewater cruisers.

Both books are well worth reading, for sailors and armchair adventurers as well.

Back To Top


SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain

by Victoria Allman (NorLightsPress, 2011, 204 pages; $15.95.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

When I first looked at SEAsoned I didn’t know what to expect. The front cover has a picture of one of those mega-yachts we see from time to time that make us wonder if the helipad is on the bow or stern. At the risk of sounding like an elitist, it’s definitely a boat for the rest of “them” rather than the rest of “us,” so my first thought was “Is this something Good Old Boat readers would enjoy?” Well, as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain is just that: the story of Victoria Allman, a world-class chef, and her husband Patrick, a licensed captain, and their adventures while serving “them” as charter crew members on 100-plus foot yachts in the Bahamas and Mediterranean over the course of about one year.

As I read along I began to realize that the author is, in fact, one of “us” in that she, her husband, and the crew members they acquire along the way, are simply working stiffs who enjoy life on boats as much as we do, only they’ve found a way to do it on someone else’s nickel. But as glamorous as that sounds, it’s definitely not a 9 to 5 job. There were many days that began well before sunrise and ended well after dark. True, some of those days were spent playing with the latest high-tech water toys in exotic surroundings, but it’s still work, and when someone is paying the kind of money it takes to charter a mega-yacht for a week or more, everything had better be perfect.

Allman has an earlier book, Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean, which could very well be the companion piece to SEAsoned. Both books contain about 30 recipes that she uses regularly, so you could say that you’re actually getting a cookbook (complete with a culinary glossary in SEAsoned) with stories. Or perhaps a storybook with recipes. However you want to look at it, SEAsoned is a relatively easy read that can be covered in a few evenings when you’re looking for something light, funny, and not a little self-deprecating. WARNING: just as conventional wisdom warns us not to go grocery shopping when we’re hungry, before you read SEAsoned make sure you’ve already had dinner or that you at least have something to snack on.  It could go bad for you when you start reading through some of those recipes.

Back To Top


The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told

edited by Stephen Brennan (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2011, 566 pages; $12.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. That’s why I try to listen to different types of music and eat different types of foods. But I definitely have my favorites: listening to classic rock while sipping a cold beer with a good pizza, or a nice lean steak smothered in onions in the company of good friends is hard to beat. When I read I like to have some Beethoven or Mozart playing softly in the background. I also try to vary my reading material, but I have my favorites there too. I read some biography and other non-fiction, some light sci-fi, but I tend to gravitate toward historical fiction and nonfiction and action/adventure with a nautical theme. I’ve read several works by James A. Michener, Herman Wouk, and William Manchester and I’m currently working my way through Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. Years ago I read the Horatio Hornblower saga and revisit it from time to time.

With that in mind it didn’t take me long to get into Stephen Brennan’s The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told. Brennan has done a wonderful service to those of us who enjoy reading stories by the masters, including Jack London, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, and many more. He has compiled 44 stories, including a 13-page sailor’s glossary to help when you come across some unfamiliar terms used in some selections.

Many of the selections are short stories that stand alone, while others are excerpts from longer works that I recognize from Moby Dick, Two Years Before the Mast, and more.

I’ve been an avid reader for many years. Consequently, I have acquired several anthologies of short stories and many of them have an introductory paragraph to each selection and/or a brief statement about the author. The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told doesn’t do this, which is a shame because a little background information on the author or the work would make it more interesting. But if that’s the only complaint, it’s a minor one. I truly believe that most readers of Good Old Boat will find The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told a welcome addition to their library.

Back To Top


Winter in Fireland —A Patagonian Sailing Adventure

by Nicholas Coghlan (University of Alberta Press, 2011; 496 pages, 4 maps, 48 photographs; $34.95)
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Illinois

In 1978, newly graduated Nicholas Coghlan and his girlfriend Jenny moved to Buenos Aires to take a job at a private English school. While there, they traveled extensively on the continent, including an extended trip south to Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego.

Fast-forward 25 years (that’s the first sentence of Chapter 2). Now Canadian Consul General in Cape Town, Nicholas and wife Jenny decide to return to the South by sailing there in a 27-foot Vancouver named Bosun Bird.
In September 2005, Bosun Bird departed Port Owen, South Africa (shades of John Vigor), and sailed to Rio de Janeiro, via St. Helena and Trindade. Then they headed south to Puerto Deseado, around Cabo San Diego, and into the Beagle Channel. After wintering over at Puerto Williams on Navarino Island, Chile, Bosun Bird continued west through Cockburn Channel and into the Strait of Magellan, then north through the Patagonian Islands and the Corcovado Gulf to Puerto Montt, sailing through terrible weather in some of the most isolated waters on the planet.
Winds were strong and contrary; charts were poor — “sailing in the white” meant going into blank areas where the chart hadn’t been filled in yet. Where protected harbors were found, standard mooring procedure called for two anchors, plus lines made fast to trees on shore—when there were trees. At one point Nicholas and Jenny were trapped in a rock-walled basin for nine days while gales blew down the channel just outside. Other days, progress was only a few miles.

Few people live in this cold, wildly beautiful part of the world. Not surprisingly, they are remarkable, like the fishermen from Chiloe Island, and the villagers eking out a thin existence along the shores. Coghlan writes about these hardy folk, and also of the previous explorers: Magellan, of course, and Slocum, but also Thomas Cavendish in 1586. One of his crew, a Welshman, named the thousands of swimming birds he saw “White Heads” or, in his native language, “pen gwin.” The Beagle spent two years in Patagonian waters, and Charles Darwin wrote extensively of the land, animals, and native people. More modern yachtsmen include Gerry Clarke, who circumnavigated Antarctica solo while in his 50s.

At one point, Nicholas and Jenny sail past four small islands in Beagle Channel, named Despard, Bertha, Lucas and Willie. They were named after the children of Thomas Bridges, a missionary who realized the futility of thrusting Christianity down the throats of the native people, and set to helping them instead. His wife, Mary, arrived at his outpost on the 42-ton Allen Gardiner, named after a man who led a group of missionaries to this area. After unloading their equipment, they discovered that they’d left all their ammunition on board the now departed ship.

Winter in Fireland is full of yarns like these. Coghlan will describe the day’s sail, mentioning the landmarks, telling what happened to previous explorers, then talk about the interesting people who make their living on these forbidding waters at the bottom of the world.

Nicholas and Jenny are now living aboard Bosun Bird “somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.” I’m hoping for another book from them about this journey.

Back To Top


Mariner’s Guide to Nautical Information

by Priscilla Travis (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2011; 544 pages; $35.00)
Review by Ted Brewer
Agassiz, British Columbia

After going through this book, almost page by page, I have decided that a much better name for it would have been the “Mariner’s Encyclopedia.” Its 544 well-illustrated pages are, truly, that complete and contain so much more than just a simple guide. It will prove an invaluable reference and a great source of information on all aspects of cruising for the newcomer to sailing as well as for the experienced coastal cruiser who is considering venturing offshore and dreaming of blue water and distant ports.

The author, Priscilla Travis, is the holder of a USCG 100 Ton Master’s License and a sailor with over 35 years experience. During those years she has logged over 85,000 nm at sea, with over 4,000 nm of those as solo skipper of 33- and 42-foot sailboats. Priscilla and I have kept in contact since 1988 when I began work on the design of her 42-foot cutter, Nomad. Since Nomad’s launching in the early ’90s Priscilla has sailedfrom her home in New Jersey to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador several times, crossed the Atlantic at high latitudes to Scotland, circumnavigated England, Scotland and Ireland, crossed the North Sea and made three trips above the Arctic Circle. And, although she does not mention it, there is a photo of Nomad on page 332 for the curious.

With that wealth of experience behind her, Priscilla created this guide with all the subjects arranged alphabetically from “Abbreviations” to “Z” (zulu time) and everything in between. For example, “heave to, heaving to, hove to (adj.) –stopping the boat at sea under sail with the JIB ABACK so that most forward progress is halted.” This section then goes on to explain how to heave to, adjust the helm, and position the sails to get the boat to lie quietly. It then, wisely, suggests practicing in both light winds and rough conditions before you need to heave to in order to ride out a severe storm.

The book concludes with an extremely thorough 50-page bibliography containing information on books, equipment, websites, organizations, weather, etc., and finishes with a 30-page index of the topics covered, so you can look up what to do if you have a runaway diesel!

Of course, nothing is perfect and the photo of a cleat on page 96 shows a proper cleat hitch, fine for securing the vessel to a dock. However, my old friend and mentor, Bill Luders, would never allow us to use a cleat hitch on a jib or mainsheet as it could jam and be difficult to undo in an emergency or in the dark. Also, I have to chide Priscilla for using the term “cutter ketch” to describe the lovely old yacht on page 228. A cutter has one mast and a ketch has two, so the old-timer is simply a ketch, although many would use the more descriptive term, “double headsail ketch.”

But, enough nitpicking. This is a wonderfully complete book on sailing and cruising that will educate and entertain the neophyte and the old hand, as well as serving as a great reference work both aboard your yacht and in your home library.

Back To Top


Shipwrecks of the Northeast

a wall map by National Geographic; $14.99
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

We recently received a large (28 x 36-inch) wall map featuring the shipwrecks off the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Suffice it to say that over the years there have been a great many of them! Just off the coasts of these four New England states, the wrecks shown on the map number in the thousands. The big-picture perspective is frankly more than a little overwhelming.

The map displays ocean depths and coastal details and includes inset maps for the busier areas — where there have been many more wrecks — such as Nantucket Sound, Cape Cod Bay, Martha’s Vineyard, Narragansett Bay, and Boston Harbor Islands. Each wreck site is symbolized to define the class and type of vessel. The vessel’s name is given, along with the date of sinking.

Historical events from the mid-1600s to the 20th-century are noted. A note about the first fully authenticated pirate ship, Whydah, is highlighted in the pirates of New England section. The wreck of the Andrea Doria, in July 1956, is explained in some detail. This tragedy has been mentioned in Good Old Boat several times over the past few years.

While it’s not comfortable to spend a lot of time reading a wall map covered with small type, it makes fascinating reading, particularly if you’re from the area or familiar with some of the events that sent these ships to the bottom. As a sailor, however, I’m not sure I want this sort of reminder hanging on my wall. I’d prefer to be enthralled by the detail captured here and then to store the evidence somewhere out of sight.

A similar map of the Delmarva Peninsula has also been published by National Geographic and is available in basic paper or laminated formats. These maps are available from <www.NationalGeographic.com>. Search for “shipwreck maps.”

Back To Top


Stone Boat Odyssey

by Ralph and Phyllis Nansen, 2011; 320 pages; available from Amazon; $19.99
Review by John Butte
Lopez Island, Washington

Stone Boat Odyssey by Ralph and Phyllis Nansen is a follow-your-dream story many sailors will relate to. In the mid-1960s, Ralph and Phyllis were a successful Pacific Northwest couple in their 30s who shared a dream of sailing the world’s oceans and visiting its exotic ports on their own boat. A Boeing engineer, Ralph was a program manager in NASA’s moon-landing effort. Phyllis was a working professional opera singer. They had three young children. Neither Ralph nor Phyllis knew how to sail.

Working within these constraints, the Nasens nurtured their dream . . . overcoming false starts, setbacks, and near tragedy along the way. Sweethearts since childhood, they worked together over the next three decades, choosing first boats to learn on, learning to sail, and ultimately building their 55-foot ferrocement passage-making yacht. They persisted through multiple moves back and forth between Seattle and Louisiana, following Ralph’s NASA moon shot and later space shuttle responsibilities. Once they sold their final house, they became liveaboards. This made it possible to spend weekends and holidays and to take many mid-week overnight sails, further increasing their experience and knowledge as cruisers.

Uncommonly (and often hilariously) candid about their “learning experiences” and near misses, the Nansens bring us along on their shared journey from the muddy bayous of Louisiana through the world-class cruising waters of Washington State’s San Juan Islands and British Columbia, to the palm-graced atolls of the South Pacific. Ralph learned all the boat’s systems, becoming Mr. Fix-it to fellow cruisers. Phyllis learned celestial navigation (before GPS was available) and ham radio operation. They both mastered sailing and boathandling.

Less like exotic and daring adventurers, and more like capable professionals, Ralph and Phyllis Nansen have shared in the writing of a book that shows us how it can be done, how they did it, and the rewards they enjoyed as a result.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2010

Reviews From 2010

February 2010 Newsletter

April 2010 Newsletter

June 2010 Newsletter

August 2010 Newsletter

October 2010 Newsletter

December 2010 Newsletter


Serena to Sea Story II

by Mary Jane Hayes (Nautical Publishing Company, 2009; 200 pages; $24.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

The work of Mary Jane Hayes (magazine covers, photo spreads, and articles) has appeared dozens of times in the pages of Good Old Boat. Now she has published the book that explains how she captured those images and the significant cruising events that were her inspiration. Called Serena to Sea Story II, this book tracks the evolution of Mary Jane and her husband, Warren, as boatowners and East Coast cruisers starting in 1969.

Mary Jane has always had a gift of observation and a way with words. She was able to find the beauty and the humor in scenes around her and to capture each event in words and pictures so eloquently that others are transported there to share the experience. Over the years as the wife of an avid boater, Mary Jane has been blessed with a rich pageant of water scenes and shoreside activities to describe with her pen and camera. It breaks my heart to report that she died in early January soon after this book was published.

“Sea stories almost write themselves — that is if you’re receptive and have a pad and pen handy,” she tells her readers in this book. “All writers have an almost compulsive need to record. To see something clearly or to feel something deeply is to wish to express it. Whenever anything catches my eye, stirs my heart, or bubbles up from the subconscious, I write it down … Since the sea is the core of my husband’s heart and soul (after his family) and central to our relationship, it was inevitable that I would write about it.”

The things that stirred Mary Jane’s soul were the ordinary sights other sailors take for granted: “I love the sight of a sailboat romping by itself in a brisk breeze on an otherwise empty bay. I love still waters, endearing children, and their patient parents enjoying the myriad aspects of aquatics, and “old salts” with their weather-beaten visages and mischievous grins. Dogs of every description aboard any kind of vessel are a continual visual feast. So are dinghies, tethered willy-nilly at docks; the doughty forms of tugs and other workboats; and on it goes … the sea heaving up an endless procession of memorable and fascinating images to admire and record.”

If you’re an East Coast cruiser, like Mary Jane and Warren, you’ll particularly enjoy reading her descriptions of places you’ve visited as she sketched the highlights of their cruises in colorful detail: “Twilight descended on a Cuttyhunk bathed in peach and gold; sunset giving way to a night so calm and bright we might have been anchored in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.” Or “As if to make up for her misbehavior, Nature, in both Sakonnet Harbor and Westport, fashioned sunsets so splendid we would have liked to frame them and send them home as postcards.” Or “How we relished this cruising country! To the east, we knew, lay Falmouth, which had amazed us on a previous trip with its numbers of boats tucked into what was essentially a finger of water, so many large powerboats to either side of the harbor they seemed to face each other like the dancers in a reel.”

So, if you cherish the same cruising country … if you want inspiration that comes of seeing ordinary scenes made extraordinary and new … if you cherish cruising with a woman who had a magic touch for description, get the book and join Mary Jane and Warren as she reminisced on their adventures afloat.

Back To Top


Fast Track to Sailing: Learn to Sail in Three Days

by Steve and Doris Colgate
(International Marine/McGraw Hill, 2009; 120 pages, $19.95)
Review by Bob Wood, Angola, N.Y.

Fast Track to Sailing is a large format softbound book that covers the wide spectrum of knowledge required for introducing students to sailing. The authors are internationally recognized for their Offshore Sailing School and professional expertise, with over forty years of instruction development.

In ten chapters, complete with diagrams and photos, the techniques of sailing are shown and explained. Also included are introductions to right-of-way, navigation and seamanship.

It would be easy to relegate this book to the large selection of efforts already available, but it shouldn’t be. This one is decidedly different.

For instance, this manual covers just the essentials. Learning to sail safely, comfortably and efficiently is the entire focus. Related subjects such as maintenance, tradition and etiquette are reserved for later training.

Also different is the exceptional clarity of the writing. Every concept, every maneuver, is so well explained that the average person can easily understand and accomplish the described step.

The book is a confidence builder. Information is discussed in a matter-of-fact style with the authors giving students credit for everyday knowledge. It is written to “you,” not to a third-person stranger — a small but effective distinction.

Finally, this is an ideal standalone course. It is possible to purchase this book and learn independently how to sail a smaller boat. There are beginners who wouldn’t do that, preferring some hands-on instruction, but it is definitely possible.

If there is a weak point, perhaps physical agility is not emphasized enough. Along with the skills, sailing still requires some balance, an ability to function on a rolling work surface. A minor point, but a new sailor should expect a moving environment where sure hands and anticipation of the boat’s action are essential.

I wish I had had this book fifty years and seven sailboats ago, rather than learning through my often-vivid mistakes. It is simply the single best source of basic sailing instruction I’ve seen. Steve and Doris Colgate are to be congratulated.

Back To Top


Flotsam and Jetsam: The Collected Adventures, Opinions,
and Wisdom From a Life Spent Messing About in Boats

by Robb White, Breakaway Books, 2009; 568 pages, $19.95.
Review by Chas. Hague
Des Plaines, Ill.

I’m attempting to review this book in the same style it is written.

Those of you Good Ol’ Boat readers who listen to NPR may be aware of commentator Bailey White. Turns out she had a brother named Robb White who was a science teacher, a boatbuilder, a man who loved to marvel at the world, and a writer of prodigious talent. He lived down in the Georgia pine woods, just north of the Florida line near the Big Bend of the Gulf of Mexico, and he had a 65-year-long childhood, much of which he recorded in articles written for Messing About in Boats magazine and other places. His stories have been collected by his wife Jane into this book, Flotsam and Jetsam.

He writes in long, rambling sentences that have a tendency to veer off in odd directions and use peculiar words, kind of like you’d expect a man from rural Georgia to write, except that he knew a thing or two about a thing or two — he will use the local name, the “Yankee” name, and the scientific Latin name for whatever bit of local flora and fauna he’s discussing. When talking about making a tin canoe, he uses the correct jargon to describe the construction.

I need to take a minute to describe the construction of a tin canoe. They were made from one sheet of “five V crimp,” obtained from the roof of a chicken house, and shaped by laying it on a nice fluffy lawn and stomping it with bare feet until it looks sort of like an 1890’s battleship. The balance between beam and freeboard is real tricky. If made too narrow, it will be so tippy you won’t be able to get settled before it turns over. If made too wide, it won’t have enough freeboard and will sink quickly to the bottom.

But I digress. White’s essays into boats (sail and power) outboard motors, weather, island living, anchoring, the ecology of the Florida Bend country, children, fish, ducks, and hurricanes are both entertaining and educational. Although much of the book involves powerboats, there are some tales of voyages under sail: “Naked Woman Inlet,” “The Time We Almost Lost the Chicken Feed Skiff,” and “Po Boy Bahama Trip,” in which we learn that lee shores off of poor holding anchorages are good places to look for salvageable boat parts.

This is the kind of book which will make you an annoyance to others in your vicinity as you quote cute descriptions, bizarre events, and bits of philosophy at them. In that spirit I leave you with this: “If your boat ain’t too pretty to walk away from without turning for another look, you ain’t getting all the goody out of life.” Read this one and save me the trouble of quoting it to you.

Back To Top


Twinkle Toes and the Riddle of the Lake

by Susan Peterson Gateley (Ariel Associates/Whiskey Hill Press, 2009; 230 pages; $15.95)
Review by Henry Rodriguez
Mound, Minn.

Twinkle Toes and the Riddle of the Lake is a book written by a cat. Don’t let that put you off; this cat is not a bad writer. A quick Google search shows that quite a few cats have taken to writing, though not all were as successful as this one. This appears to be a children’s book but it has much to recommend it to adults. It is a great book to read aloud to your school-age kids or grandkids. The story will keep them interested while at the same time educating both reader and listener about the perils facing our Great Lakes.

As mentioned, Twinkle Toes and the Riddle of the Lake is written from the perspective of the real author’s cat Twinkle Toes. Twink, her mother Dusty, and her cousin Miss Piggy are landlubbers all. They hate the idea of cruising in a small sailboat. Nevertheless, they are shanghaied aboard Skipper Sue’s 23′ wooden yacht,Ariel, for a cruise across Lake Ontario. They soon figure out that the fastest way home is to solve the mystery of where the lake’s eels have gone. To do that, they have to sail to the lake’s most remote island, Main Duck. The cats have a number of adventures on the way and learn a lot about the history of the lake from various characters they meet.

Part 1 of this book is the fact-based novel told from the perspective of the cats. It includes a glossary of nautical terms as well as diagrams of the boats involved. Part 2, an extensive appendix called “Skipper Sue’s Notebook,”contains a number of environmental and historical articles. Included are short chapters on subjects as diverse as slaves and the Underground Railroad, eels, ship ballast, and territorial swans.

Twinkle Toes is a good read for children, parents, and anyone interested in the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario. It has enough action to keep youthful readers interested while giving valuable insights into the history and ecology of the lake.

Back To Top


Wild Beauty: A visual Exploration of BC

by Al Harvey (Heritage House, 2009; 128 pages; $26.95)
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, Wash.

This book is well named. Those of us who have fallen in love with cruising the coast of British Columbia are in awe of its wild beauty. We boaters skirt the headlands, explore the inlets, and sometimes prowl a short ways up one of the great river systems. This book shows mariners how much more grandeur awaits in the interior. So much more, that perhaps we should let our boats rest easy in their slips for a while and go explore a portion of the interior.

Al Harvey is a remarkably talented photographer, and it is his images that will draw people to this book. The book is organized into three major sections: Mountains, Rivers, and Shorelines. There is an introductory four-page Overview which helps orient the reader to the geography, peoples, and history of British Columbia. This overall organization works well. Starting with “Mountains” allows Al Harvey to lead off with some of his most stunning images. It is the glaciers and snowfields of the mountain ranges that give rise to the rivers, which in turn take one down to the shoreline.

Each of the major sections includes its own short introduction that highlights key features. Intermixed among the photographs of the section is informative, descriptive text. This material can help readers plan an exploratory trip to a region that particularly appeals to them.

Al Harvey has spent much of his life exploring BC: backpacking through the mountain ranges, rafting the rivers, and sea-kayaking along the shorelines. Most of the photographs selected for this book originated during those outings. In addition, he has included images captured from the air. His love of this country shows clearly in this work. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in the “wild beauty” of wilderness areas in general, and of British Columbia in particular.

Back To Top


A Cruising Cook’s Guide To Mexico:
Essential Provisioning & Cooking Tips
for Cruising the Mexican Coast

by Heather Stockard (Seaworthy Publications, Inc., 2008; 196 pages; $24.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

“My goal . . . to help you learn to shop for food in Mexico . . .prepare delicious meals using locally available ingredients . . . learn how to adapt your own recipes to use Mexican ingredients.”
–Author Heather Stockard

A Cruising Cook’s Guide To Mexico is much more than a cookbook. In fact, you won’t find the recipe section until you get to page 74. What you will find is one of the most complete and up-to-date provisioning guides ever published for those cruising the Mexican coast.

Heather relies on vast personal experience — three years of sailing the Pacific coast of Mexico with her husband aboard Legacy, a Saga 43 — and she thoroughly shares that abundant knowledge with her readers, in an easy-to -navigate format. But while she reveals all she knows, she also encourages would-be cruisers to use the information only as a guide, personalizing their experience based on their own cooking preferences.

The author’s conversational writing style draws readers in from the first page. You will feel as if you are sitting and chatting with Heather — not reading a book. Her goal is to take the guesswork out of provisioning for those cruising Pacific Mexico. Two tips she shares: 1) don’t believe everything you are told about what to take, and 2) you are not likely going to change the way you eat entirely, just because you’re cruising.

In “General Provisioning Tips” she advises future cruisers on a multitude of topics, including cash and currency, the variety of grocery stores available and what to expect, safe food and water, and the most useful items to have onboard.

Find out what foods and ingredients are available, along with their Spanish translation, where they can be found, and ideas for preparation in the section titled: “Ingredients and Cooking Terms.”

“Things to Bring From the U.S.” and “Substitutions, Conversions and Rules of Thumb” are two chapters you will want to be sure to read before leaving home. Knowing what to take and what’s available once you get there can make life a whole lot easier. Why overload your boat if you don’t need to — or do without if you can bring it along? And once you are happily cruising, you will still be able to prepare your favorite recipes, even if you run out of your usual ingredient, by utilizing one of the tried-and-true substitutions listed. Extremely helpful is the exchange rate chart on page 52, converting pesos to American dollars.

Stockard provides information on Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Santa Rosalia, Puerto Vallarta, and numerous other port cities and small villages you may visit, including the VHF channels used, transportation offered onshore, types of stores and foods available, and more in the “Local Provisioning Information” chapter.

The recipe section is another book inside a book and includes appetizers, beverages, and raft-up food; make-ahead main dishes and favorite main dish recipes; soups, salads, and side dish recipes; bread and breakfast recipes; dessert, sauce, condiment, and topping recipes.

Prepare “Tuna Pate” or “Warm Artichoke and Chile Dip” for your next raft-up. Enjoy a “Cranberry Cooler” or “Sunbreak Mango Margarita” on deck after a day of sailing, followed by a delicious pre-prepared dish of “Shrimp Paella” or “Easy Baja-Style Fish Tacos.” How about a thick wedge of “Triple Chocolate Rum Cake” for dessert? Still hungry? You’ll find nearly 170 recipes to choose from.

A Cruising Cook’s Guide To Mexico would be a great addition to any cruiser’s galley or boat-book library.

Back To Top


Sustainable Sailing: Go Green When You Cast Off

by Dieter Loibner (Sheridan House, 2009; 210 pages; $24.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

Sustainable Sailing is a wake-up call for the boating community of incipient disaster. Steadily eroding our watery world are pollution and disappearing resources. The disaster is an apocalyptic echo of political cartoonist Walt Kelly’s proclamation, “We have met the enemy . . . and he is us.”

This book chronicles, with numbing detail, the nautical history of our misuse, our current overuse, and the stark potential future of non-use. It also offers shimmering alternatives that could slow or even reverse our future’s unraveling.

Dieter reminds us of the famous moment in the film, “The Graduate,” when Mr. McGuire’s advice was, “…There’s a great future in plastics.” The idea symbolized progress 30 years ago but its unchecked advocacy has become today’s ecological suicide.

Using data and statistics, the author has carefully documented our plight. Fiberglass boat construction requires a massive carbon footprint. The amount of oil needed to produce a 30-foot hull and liner is staggering. At the same time, thousands of boats that are no longer used are clogging the waterways. Recycling solutions are obvious.

For the sake of convenience, we often use fossil fuels to hasten passages, heat our cabins, and cook our meals. These same precious fuels are used in the manufacturing of boat interiors, tanks, sails, and much of our clothing.

First impressions from reading Sustainable Sailing can be shock and hopelessness. Is pleasure boating already extinction-bound and are we blind to the tragedy? A cautiously different answer might be, “Perhaps not.” Instead, we must change.

In ways big and small, our focus must change. Change to enjoying the purity of traditional sailing, with motors reserved for clearing marinas and maneuvering. Change to reincarnating unused boats and equipment rather than longing for the shiniest and newest. We must embrace “green technology” and environmental stewardship to prevent and reverse the direction of our waters becoming toxic waste.

Brace yourself: Sustainable Sailing is a bucket of cold reality. Pollution and consumption, in our planet’s environment, will taper off until equilibrium is reached; that is scientific fact. Whether sailing still exists when it’s reached depends entirely on our choice to preserve or squander. More to the point, it is our inevitable fate.

Back To Top


Every Boat Turns South

by J. P. White (The Permanent Press, 2009; 240 pages; $28.00.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

J. P. White is an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in over 100 publications in the past 30 years. He also has four anthologies of poetry to his credit, the earliest in 1978, the most recent in 2001. Every Boat Turns South is his first novel. The story takes place in the 1980s when Matt Younger returns to his parents’ home in Florida after wandering around the Caribbean, primarily the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, as a delivery captain.

Along the way he meets some pretty unsavory characters and ends up paying a hefty price for his wayward lifestyle. Through a series of flashbacks, Matt tells Skip, his dying father, where he’s been for the past several years. While Matt’s Caribbean experience is the focal point of the story, we also learn about the family’s earlier adventures on Lake Erie when Matt and his older brother, Hale, were kids, how the family came to Florida in Pirate’s Penny, a 40-foot sloop that Skip had built, and how Matt became a vagabond after the death of Hale, the family’s golden child.

Without giving away too much of the story, the circumstances surrounding Hale’s death foreshadow Matt’s life as he relates it to Skip as he lies on his deathbed. All the while Matt and his mother, Emily, keep each other at arm’s length, he out of guilt, she out of disappointment.

As I read through Every Boat Turns South I was struck by the vibrant imagery, but once I went online and found out that White is an accomplished poet it all fell into place. His character development and descriptive narrative are skillfully done, and the reader feels like he’s along for the ride, rather than a mere spectator. His portrayal of the Bahamas and Dominican Republic are believable enough to discourage anyone from getting too far off the beaten path for fear of who or what they’ll run into, although I imagine, or at least I hope, that things have improved in the 20 or so years since the story takes place.

If you’re in the market for some light reading that moves quickly, and you’re not easily offended by graphic language, Every Boat Turns South definitely has something to offer. It would fill a few quiet evenings at anchor with a story that’s well paced, has plenty of colorful characters, and enough intrigue to keep the reader involved from start to finish.

Back To Top


The DeWire Guide to Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, 2nd edition

by Elinor DeWire (PARADISE CAY PUBLICATIONS, 2010; 292 PAGES; $19.95)
Review by Lewis Keizer
Aromas, Calif.

Why haven’t lighthouses faded into obsolescence like RACON and LORAN? Because everybody loves lighthouses, and Elinor DeWire shows us why — not just tells, but shows, with attractive full-color and archival photos on nearly every page, plus diagrams and historical lighthouse log entries. Elinor (<http://www.elinordewire.com>), who has researched and written guidebooks to every one of our nation’s historical lighthouses, writes compellingly about lighthouse ghosts, pets, gardens, and the devoted men and women who kept the lights burning and the steam engines turning to drive their huge foghorns. Many keepers were women, such as the amazing Emily Fish of the Point Pinos Lighthouse on the rocky Southern point of Monterey Bay. She not only scrubbed the inevitable mess of bird droppings from the windows surrounding the massive Fresnel lens, but was a beloved Monterey socialite who held tea gatherings at her lighthouse home and always dressed fashionably even when weeding her garden.

Then there were the brave seamen who manned the old lightships, like the Columbia off the Columbia River Bar in Oregon. The lightships were painted with red topsides and, while equipped with powerful anchors, they had wholly inadequate propulsion. When the Columbia broke free in a November storm in 1899 she was unable to maneuver, landed on the rocks at Cape Disappointment, and was given up for lost. But an enterprising house mover from Portland employed teams of horses and a railway to salvage her and eventually put her back into service.

Elinor’s look at the lighthouses of California, Oregon, and Washington takes you on a journey from San Diego to the San Juan Islands, but it is not a dry reference book like a Coast Pilot. It has the copious illustrations and graphics of a coffee-table book, telephone and contact numbers in a sidebar for each lighthouse like a tourist guidebook, and fascinating sections about lighthouse history and personalities that read like short stories. You can read it from cover to cover like a novel, then keep it for reference when you get a chance to visit one of the historic lighthouses — some of which are maintained by private non-profits, others by park agencies. Today they function as fully automated aids to navigation, but also serve as museums, bed-and-breakfasts, and hostels. Elinor DeWire’s book will inspire you to visit them!

Back To Top


George Washington’s Great Gamble and
the Sea Battle That Won the American Revolution

by James L. Nelson (McGraw-Hill, 2010; 376 pages; $26.95)
Review by William Hammond
Golden Valley, Minnesota

There are those who to this day insist that the United States was born by an act of divine intervention. How else, such people argue, could a ragtag band of farmers, silversmiths and shopkeepers prevail against the mightiest military the world had ever known?

A compelling view to such speculation is provided by James L. Nelson’s well-researched account of the final months of the American Revolution, a time when rebel enthusiasm for the Glorious Cause was clearly on the wane. America desperately needed a victory on land, and she desperately needed French control of the sea to ensure that victory.

Unsuccessful in its campaigns in the North, in 1780 the British High Command settled on a “southern strategy.” At the core of this strategy lay the assumption that living in Georgia and the Carolinas were legions of Tories loyal to King George who would flock to his banner if offered the opportunity. Once Lord Charles Cornwallis had subdued the Carolinas, he could march north, conquer Virginia, and restore the entire South to the British Empire.

However, as Mr. Nelson points out with an intriguing blend of cutting edge analysis and commentary sprinkled with a delightful dose of dry wit, there were several problems with this strategy. First, while there may have been numerous Tories living in the South, precious few of them were willing to spill their blood for the British king. And second, Cornwallis’s superior, Sir Henry Clinton, was in New York, many miles away, and the two generals had little use for each other. Both wrote to American Secretary Germaine in London rather than to each other, and Germaine’s views of the war were almost child-like in their naivete and optimism.

After a series of battles in the Carolinas produced no conclusive outcomes, Cornwallis finally marched north into Virginia. There, a perilous game of chess was being played between British and American forces, each side jockeying for position between the Virginia capes and the capital of Richmond. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, le Comte de Rochambeau had landed in Newport with a French army and le Comte de Barras had sailed in with a fleet of battle cruisers. From the West Indies le Comte de Grasse wrote General Washington that he would be sailing with a far greater naval force for the Chesapeake, where he would remain until the end of hurricane season.

As Mr. Nelson writes, “Finally the stars were beginning to align to make a decisive victory possible.” Washington, who had long favored a siege of New York, now suddenly changed strategy and ordered his ragged Continentals and the superbly uniformed French army on a forced march to the Chesapeake.

What happened next was a checkmate for the ages. Cornwallis’s army was defeated at Yorktown, but it was a victory made possible by yet another shocking wave of British blunders in an epic sea battle fought between de Grasse and Adm. Sir Thomas Graves.

The benevolence of a divine providence? You decide, but not until you have read this gripping and superbly written account of the facts at hand.

Back To Top


Adventures in the Trade Wind

by Richard Dey (Offshore Press, 2009; 329 pages; $22.99)
Review by James Williams
Daytona Beach, Fla.

This is the story of pioneer charter-boat captain, Morris Nicholson, and of yacht chartering in the Caribbean since World War II. It is an incredibly rich topic, sure to attract sailors and wanna-be sailors alike. I have read many West Indies cruising guides, new and old, and a dozen or more cruising memoirs (the best: An Embarrassment of Mangoes) and know well Ed Hamilton’s web site historical sketches of the British Virgin Islands’ charter story <www.ed-hamilton.com/charter-connection-Pastfeatures/history/history2005.05.html>, yet Nicholson’s story, as told by Richard Dey, is the most complete I’ve found. It is also one of the most frustrating.

Morris, a young lad running off to sea, answers a call in Britain to purchase a share of a 60-year old 80-foot wooden ketch and join other adventurers in taking it round the world. They made it to Spain, Morocco, the Canaries, and across the Atlantic to Martinique, where the conniving Captain went ashore and sold the boat out from under them. Marooned in the Caribbee, Morris made the best of it. He got passage to Castries, St. Lucia, and found work with another English émigré, mechanic and craftsman Bert Ganter. Morris ran boats for Ganter, helped get his marina at Vigie Cove organized, and became acquainted with charter yachts out of English Harbour, Antigua, which came regularly to Vigie Cove to have work done. He became acquainted with Gus and Jane Koven, who were building Eleuthera II, a 60-foot ketch, in Germany. Morris became her skipper for over thirty years, helping outfit her, and sailing her with the Kovens from Bremen, Germany, to the Med for a year, and eventually to St. Lucia.

The Kovens increasingly booked charters for Eleuthera, and Morris was kept busy after 1956 sailing well-to-do Americans around the Caribbean. This early chartering centered on English Harbour, Antigua, where retired British naval commander Vernon E.B. Nicholson and his family (no relation to Morris) had started a charter business with their 70-foot schooner Mollihawk in 1949. They soon had a flotilla of charter yachts, skippered and owner-operated, sailing out of English Harbour. Eleuthera was based for a couple of years there as a member of the Nicholson charter fleet, and in 1959 Morris won the first yacht Antigua yacht race — officially the “Guadalupe Channel Race” — which morphed into the now-famous Antigua Race Week the following year.

Adventures in the Trade Wind takes readers on a sprawling passage through the post-World War II West Indies. Landfall is made at Grenada, Trinidad, Panama, the Windwards and Leewards, Cuba, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and more — the breadth of the Caribbean. I found myself immersed in the flavor of the region and its people, intrigued by a very good history of bareboat chartering in the Virgin Islands, yet annoyed by the telling of it all. Quite simply, Dey has not mastered how to tell someone else’s story, for his voice and that of Morris Nicholson collide repeatedly and convolute the tale. Too often Dey is rambling and distracted. In the chapter “Out of Bequia,” for example, he splices together seemingly unconnected vignettes – a rogue wave incident, Morris’s search to find the bones of Enid, the yacht that originally brought him to Martinique, and an observation on smuggling — all quite separate from the meat of the chapter — bareboat chartering in the Virgin Islands. And, when one goes to the index to try and locate places, people, and events you know are contained in this jumbled landscape, they as often as not are not to be found.

All this said, however, Richard Dey has assembled a vast amount of material from his interviews with Morris Nicholson and from his wide reading. His bibliography is an excellent starting point for digging further, and his chapter notes, though few in number, contain gems of information. It is a book you’ll pick up again, despite any aggravations you might find with it, because it is a heartfelt and truly rich story.

Back To Top


Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated

by Roger Marshall (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2010; 184 pages; $24.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

Admittedly, I’m not what you’d call a “hands-on” kind of guy. But in the eight or so years that I’ve owned Tortuga, my 1969 Westerly Centaur, I’ve become handier than I ever thought I’d be, and I’ve enjoyed working on my boat more than I ever imagined I would. Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks; it just takes a little longer. I’ve done some minor fiberglass repairs on my boat, and have several books on the subject, but when I was asked to review Roger Marshall’s Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated, I thought it couldn’t hurt to have another resource. I wish I’d had this book a few years ago.

Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated is made for guys like me. There are nine chapters in all, covering everything from cosmetic repairs like gelcoat restoration and repair and renewing non-skid surfaces, to identifying and repairing major structural damage to hulls, keels, rudders, decks, etc. And each chapter has plenty of high-quality color photos worth tens of thousands of words that will make almost any job at least seem less daunting than one would imagine. For example, chapters 1 and 3, “How Fiberglass Boats Are Built” and “Materials, Tools, and Basic Techniques Used,” respectively, are practically encyclopedic. Both chapters clearly show-and-tell materials, tools, safety equipment, procedures, and various products from a variety of suppliers, including WEST System, Interlux, MAS Epoxies, and System Three, to name a few. Marshall also explains the different applications of each item and its cost effectiveness dependent upon that application. In short, he’s taken a lot of the guesswork out of what to use, and when and where to use it. I think the two chapters should have been run sequentially, but that’s a minor detail that won’t detract in any way from the usefulness of the book. The remaining chapters give detailed descriptions, and more of those photos, of any kind of repair job you’re likely to run into.

Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated is a comprehensive, easy-to-use reference for anyone who owns a fiberglass boat, be it sail or motor. We never know what we’ll have to repair, and this could prove to be an almost indispensable resource. No matter what books you may already have on the subject, I believe that if you were to invest in a copy of Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated you would not be disappointed.

Back To Top


The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon: And 101 Other Things
for Young Mariners to Build, Try, and Do on the Water

by David Seidman and Jeff Hemmel (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2010; 272 pages; $24.95)
Review by Ashley More, Age 12
Shorewood, Ill.

I would recommend the book The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon: And 101 Other Things for Young Mariners to Build, Try, and Do on the Water to kids 12 and even up to adults who have experienced or like sailing or being on the water. This book covers many of the safety skills needed on the water, including how to escape a rip current, weather safety, rescues, sun calculations, taking boating safety exams, and many more. It would also be helpful for kids interested in being around or in a water sport like paddling a canoe, learning to waterski and barefoot waterski, and sea kayaking. Another way this book is helpful is the lesson on how to tie knots. This skill would be handy on any boat. I would recommend this book because of the fun projects to make, like making a paddle, rope swing, boat, weather glass, and many more. The fun facts in the book are very interesting and information that most kids don’t know.

The only thing I did not like was that it was hard to pick up and read from cover to cover in one sitting. This book would be a great resource to find out information on boating fun. I also wanted to do the projects on my boat but we did not have all of the supplies on hand. I am planning on continuing to read this book as a resource and as I want to look up information on water activities.

Thank you very much for allowing me to read and review this interesting book. I enjoyed the opportunity to read it this summer while on my boat.

Back To Top


Maxing Out: Red Sea Chronicles

(Maxing Out Media, 2008; 82 minutes, DVD; $19.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling in the U.S. and Canada; $19.95 plus $10.00 shipping and handling international. See: <http://www.maxingout.com>.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisconsin

Maxing Out; Red Sea Chronicles is a homemade documentary that follows the Abbot family as they sail from Salalah, Oman, through the Gulf of Aden to Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Sorrows) where they enter the Red Sea, and then north to Port Said, Egypt, on the Mediterranean. Dave Abbot is the captain of their 39-foot catamaran, Exit Only, and a retired eye surgeon who spent eleven years working in Saudi Arabia while dreaming of sailing around the world with his family. Dave, his wife Donna, their son David, and his wife Sarah sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to Oman where this adventure begins. As they sail up the Red Sea they share many of the sights and sounds of this exotic region, dodge pirates, wait out weather, and tour some of the oldest sites of civilization in the world, many of which we’ve all read about in history books as kids, and see today in contemporary news media.

There are moments when the viewer may think they’re watching home movies, but David, the chief videographer and editor, does a good job of keeping things from becoming too (for lack of a better word) schmaltzy. The overall quality of the piece is such that it can be seen in short segments on Bob Bitchin’s TV show Latitudes and Attitudes. In addition to the 82 minutes of travelogue, like most DVDs there are over 40 minutes of special features that include information on cruising in a catamaran, some useful things to know if you plan on cruising in the Red Sea, boat management in stormy weather, and more.

Like many others, when I was much younger I would fantasize about sailing around the world. But, also like many others, as the years went by that dream was tempered and now I spend summers cruising the Great Lakes, which is pretty cool in and of itself. However, while watching this I found that those old dreams are being stirred up out of the silt at the bottom of the slow moving river of time. I dare say that Maxing Out; Red Sea Chronicles could have the same effect on anyone else who has ever put a similar dream on hold.

Back To Top


For Love of Country

by William Hammond (Naval Institute Press), 2010; 256 pages; $29.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Bill Hammond and Richard Cutler, the hero of his historical naval series of novels, have done it again in Bill’s second book, For Love of Country. This book begins tracking the activities of the Cutler family just after the end of the American War for Independence.

Because it is a young country lacking resources and international respect — and a navy — the merchant ships of the United States are harassed by the British and other countries, including the Barbary States of North Africa. The British prevent the Americans from trading freely with Great Britain’s colonies by boarding and impounding American merchant vessels. The Barbary States take ships and sailors as hostages (ever wonder about the origin of the word barbaric?) and demand exorbitant ransoms for their release.

Meanwhile, the revolution in France is underway and the sugar islands of the West Indies are hotly contested by the empires of France and England.

Richard Cutler and members of his family are, quite naturally, involved in this political stew, as they own merchant ships trade in the West Indies, United States, and Europe. To further personalize the situation for the family, Richard’s brother, Caleb, serves as a foretopman on a Cutler merchantman seized by Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean.

Richard gains Congressional approval (and the use of family funds) to operate as an American agent in Algiers to secure the release of Caleb’s ship and crew. Thus the stage is set for Richard Cutler to once again take the reader to many of the political hot spots of the times, from an encounter with Captain Horatio Nelson in Antigua, to a stopover in Gibraltar, to Algiers and on to France as the revolutionary fuse is being lit. There he meets with the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, and Captain John Paul Jones.

There are a few thrilling chase scenes, some not-so-chaste sex, and excellent dialogue. Bill Hammond is a master historical researcher and author. It’s wonderful to see the Cutler Family Chronicles receiving the acclaim it deserves. There are several more books on his drawing board. We will all be enriched as he brings history to life by making the people of the times heroes and fond friends. If you haven’t read A Matter of Honor, the first book in this series, start there before you move on to For Love of Country. You’ll be glad you did.

Back To Top


An Illustrated Cruising Guide to the Great Loop Inland Waterway:
Chicago to Mobile (Volume 1: Chicago to Paducah, Kentucky

by Mark and Diana Doyle, semi-local publications LLC; <http://www.managingthewaterway.com>; 2010; 168 pages; $49.95)
Review by Cyndi Perkins
Houghton, Mich.

Managing the Waterway authors Mark and Diana Doyle were intercepted by inland waterway patrols for “suspicious behavior” aboard their 22-foot pilothouse C-Dory while creating this new and improved addition to the popular cruising guide series. Questions raised by leisurely wending, inexplicable weaving, and close-up picture-taking in and around the channels are answered in this exhaustively comprehensive, well-illustrated volume that is actually three guides within a guide: a preparation and planning section that contains fascinating natural and historical highlights and river trivia; a mile-by-mile cruising guide; and an annotated chart guide for the 580-mile transit of the Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers from Chicago, Illinois, to Paducah, Kentucky. Organized with a nod to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” the Doyles proceeded on the premise of working up the “Cruiser’s Triangle,” prioritizing safety first, followed by planning and, finally, appreciation of natural and man-made resources along the journey.

Issued just in time for the yearly migration of snowbirds and America’s Great Loopers, Volume 1 is the debut of enhancements in design, including color icons that allow for quick location of marinas, anchorages and other essentials. Guide favorites, including a top-of-each-page “heads-up” list of vital safety info such as upcoming locks, bridges, and barge-fleeting areas, remain a staple. Of particular note are the “documentary-style” photos liberally sprinkled throughout, which are extremely helpful to mariners in visually identifying approaches to the correct facility or landmark while piloting the often deceptive rivers.

The lay-flat spiral-bound, 168-page, three-pound guide includes 180 GPS waypoints, 548 photos and illustrations, 182 bridge and lock listings, and 309 websites and phone numbers.

As the Doyle’s note, “The best way to outwit chart gaps and discrepancies is to use several different sources of cartography. Use paper and electronic, raster and vector, and government and private. Most important, keep an eye on the water!” The seven official chart books covering the route from Chicago, Illinois, to Mobile, Alabama, while essential, are dauntingly primitive due to the nature of the rivers. Season-to-season, sometimes hour-to-hour, depth levels fluctuate, buoys drown, currents vary, and lock/bridge schedules are altered. To assist in immediate tracking of changing conditions, each geographic region in the MTW series, including the new Chicago to Paducah guide, is now updated using Twitter feeds via e-mail, Web, RSS feed or SMS text. Finally, a valid reason to Tweet!

Back To Top


The Blue Book of Sailing: The 22 Keys to Sailing Mastery

by Adam Cort, (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2009; 264 pages; $19.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

Like angle of sail, the wind — its strength, its direction, the way it’s trending — should always be in the back of a sailor’s mind. – Adam Cort

Whether you are already an experienced blue-water cruiser, expert racer, sail for pleasure or are just learning to sail, reading The Blue Book of Sailing will have you looking and thinking about sailing in a whole new way.

According to the author, Adam Cort, when you know your boat and how it responds to different conditions, you are able to plan ahead and know what actions to take. This may seem simplistic. Believe me, it is not. So many topics are covered in The Blue Book of Sailing, and in such a comprehensive manner, that you will want to keep a copy on your bookshelf for future reference.

Cort’s goal is to “bridge the gap between basic sailing skills and true sailing knowledge.” He accomplishes this by taking us chapter by chapter, beginning with basic sailing maneuvers such as tacking, jibing and points of sail — and in 22 chapters he unveils the keys to sailing mastery.

He begins with “Knowing the Angles” of sail, called point of sail. Know if you are on a run, reach, beam reach or close reach. Detailed descriptions and easy-to-read illustrations set up a great general knowledge base for all that follows.

In “Getting to Where You Want to Go” you will jibe, sail downwind, sail windward and even zigzag. Then you will find out “How to See The Wind.” Cort advises to sail without a wind indicator to develop your skills and look around — the wind is not really invisible.

The author explains in “Catching the Wind” that sails are more intricate in design than airplane wings. In fact, both sides of a sail work in unison in powering a boat through the water.

How do your keel and rudder come into play when “Steering with Your Sails”? Find out all the facts when it comes to getting centered, resistance, balance and heel and you will know instinctively how to steer with your sails.

Read on — “The Anatomy of a Knot” and “Docking Under Sail and Power” chapters offer a multitude of information on the best knots to use on our lines and sheets and step-by-step directions for docking.

Why are boats designed differently? The chapter “Sail Plans and Lines Drawings” gives readers the opportunity to study in-depth illustrations and details on boat rigging, sterns and hulls and discover the answer — and why they do what they do. Then follow up with “Keels, Rudders and Other Hull Features” and learn how different shapes affect speed, comfort and resilience.

The Blue Book of Sailing also covers why sails are shaped like triangles, boat speed, why sailboats don’t tip over (usually), and even the basic question of why we sail.

Do you want to become more than what Cort calls a “practiced novice?” Reading The Blue Book of Sailing will definitely take your sailing to a new level.

Back To Top


The Galley: How Things Work

by Donald Launer (Sheridan House, 2009; 112 pages; $17.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minn.

The short version of this review? Buy the book. It is comprehensive. Applicable. Balanced. Informative. Understandable.

If you prefer further details, read on.

Author Donald Launer tells readers that The Galley: How Things Work is not the typical galley book. No recipes; few references to food at all. This book is about “the infrastructure of a boat galley.” Launer then proceeds, over the next 100 pages, to do a dynamite job of detailing equipment available for galleys, how the stuff works, installation requirements for said stuff, and suggestions — all in a basic, comfortable-to-read framework.

A hundred pages. Fifty-five illustrations covering everything from accumulators to electric instantaneous no-tank water heaters, along with concrete examples of the author’s own schooner. Launer is frank, supporting his recommendations with facts. He is clear about the drawbacks of equipment or installation procedures, but presents all options. The pros and cons are laid out, along with specific “what happens if” examples. Once Launer has made clear the disadvantages, he puts just as much effort into describing how to make it work if a person is sold on it. With all equipment and procedures, he weighs the materials available and their cost, the installation cost and the life expectancy of the setup.

When he says that boaters “should” install a particular piece of equipment, he explains clearly why he considers it to be critical. He often identifies certain subsections of boaters who need particular items and why. He may then go on to explain why it is good for everyone to have it aboard, but again, he doesn’t push.

Launer’s suggestions are both eclectic and practical:

  • The freshest source for diesel for stoves is likely the gas station.
  • Stores catering to the RV crowd carry a wider variety of 12-volt galley appliances and are cheaper to boot.
  • Maple cutting boards are safer than plastic. (Don’t believe it? Read the book.)
  • Solid fuel includes pine cones.
  • Cell phones and curing fiberglass can trigger carbon monoxide detectors.

The long version of this review? Buy the book.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2009

Reviews From 2009

February 2009 Newsletter

April 2009 Newsletter

June 2009 Newsletter

August 2009 Newsletter

October 2009 Newsletter

December 2009 Newsletter


Further Offshore, A Practical Guide for Sailors,

by Ed Mapes, (Sheridan House, 2008; 352 pages; $39.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

Further Offshore is the textbook for those who are serious about sailing the open waters. All-inclusive, it is meant to be read and digested from cover to cover.

Delve in and you will find six sections to explore, each one covering a separate aspect of offshore sailing in intricate detail. Nothing is left out; when you finish reading Further Offshore, it is doubtful you will have any questions left unanswered.

    • “The Big Picture” is an introduction to what Mapes calls “the voyage.” He addresses everything from making the final decision to go on an extended voyage and finding the right boat, to equipping your boat, choosing your crew, cruising with children, meal and trip planning, and more.

 

    • “The Boat and Fitting Out” takes you right to the nitty-gritty details of finding the right sailboat for your adventure. The author discusses types, weights and configurations of hulls, boat size in relation to need, construction type and materials, steering, mast and rigging — the list is extensive.Information on gear and instrumentation is also included and covers Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB), self-steering systems, Global Positioning System (GPS), communications and safety equipment and measures, just to name a few.

 

    • “Planning for the Voyage” — It’s time to start planning. Most sailors who are able to finally embark upon bluewater sailing are not as young as they used to be. This means you’ll need to plan to take care of your health before sailing off into the sunset.Smart voyagers will prepare before leaving dry land by signing up for emergency first aid classes, putting together an onboard medical kit (complete lists of recommended contents are provided) and purchasing comprehensive health insurance coverage while at sea.
      Finding the best boat insurance, a guide to weather fundamentals, routing your voyage, preparing the crew, meal planning and provisioning, and final preparations are also covered. You may decide to read this section more than once, as it deals with so many important topics.

 

    • In “Boat Handling and Shipkeeping” the following are covered in detail: maneuvering under sail or power, docking, anchoring, going up the mast, safety tactics, protocols and procedures. This is a must-read section as sailing in extreme conditions is addressed as well, including tropical cyclones, hurricanes, waves, and navigating to safety as a crew.Tips on routine maintenance and upkeep of your vessel are also included. No details are left out — even insects and other pests are addressed.

 

    • “Underway,” one of the shorter sections of the book, contains thorough details on departure, watchkeeping, logkeeping, making landfall, and port clearance.

 

  • The Appendices include various usable checklists, lists, and plans to ensure you are ready to shove off, a general Power of Attorney form, COLREGS list, a section on medical emergency procedures, and helpful conversion tables.

Any questions? Read Further Offshore for all the answers!

Back To Top


The American Pram

by Paul Austin Jr. (Published by the author, 4104 Block Drive 319, Irving, TX 75038, utf21@att.net; 2008; 36 pages; $15.00)

Review by Bill Sandifer
Mandeville, La.

The Home Depot motto, “You can do it; we can help,” could be the name of this book. There are nine potential prams you can build just from this one slim volume. It is detailed enough that a person with the desire and basic skills will have no trouble building a useful and good-looking pram.

The author has selected a group of nine easy-to-build prams under 10 feet in length. Included are prams by Bolger (2), Atkin (1), Joel White (1), Sponberg (1), Jordan (1), Clark Mills (1), Holtrop (1) and Anderson (1). My favorite, the Nutshell pram, is Joel White’s contribution to this group. This group certainly does not include all the prams in this length range but is representative of the best of a group of designs.

The book lays out the basic parameters for building the prams and leads the reader step by step through the construction cycle for each pram. The book includes a good materials list as well as basic design layouts, saving loads of time. Lofting is not required but a good ladder jig, well reinforced, is definitely a must. The author gives simple directions for the construction, although he occasionally lapses into “boatbuilder speak,” which he thinks you understand but may not. This occurs where the author is discussing the Atkin pram and uses “cross-spall” in the ladder jig. There are numerous examples of this “boatbuilder speak” throughout the book, enough to be intimidating and annoying to a person not used to this language.

There are discussions of wood uses and weight as well as nifty ideas for fittings, oars, daggerboards, and leeboards. An index gives the source for plans for the nine prams, including costs. The pictures and illustrations are well selected and add considerably to the reader’s understanding of each pram. The brief discussion of the capabilities of each pram and its usefulness are definite pluses to the text.

If you are considering building a useful pram, consider buying this book. You’ll need to add a boatbuilder’s dictionary for some of the instructions but, in the end, it will all be worth the effort to have built your own pram from scratch. I’m very proud of the Nutshell pram I built over 20 years ago. She has served well and continues to serve. You can do it and this book is a good way to get your feet wet.

Back To Top


Get Onboard With E-charting

by Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications, http://www.managingthewaterway.com; 2008; 232 pages; $34.95)
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, Wash.

This is a very data-rich book. It is a fine introduction to electronic charting and navigation for those new to the topic. More experienced users will find it useful as a reference book on the currently available applications, or to look up details on instrumentation, formats or data transfers between different devices.

The first part of this book addresses the question “What is E-Charting?” In the introduction section, the authors do a nice job of summarizing the history of “Global Position Finding,” the development of paper charts, and the evolution to digital chart formats.

Part two delves into the basic components of any E-charting systems — hardware, sensors, chart database and application software.  Once again, the authors begin with a clearly written introduction that covers the key issues. Then they go into considerable detail that is useful even to very experienced users.

If you are hesitant to give E-charting a try, then the third section of this book might be just what you need to see how E-charting could enhance your cruising and navigation experience. Chapter 10, “Putting It All Together,” features seven scenarios showing how various aspects of E-Charting can be used by boaters ranging from a kayaker to the captain of a large yacht. Part three also includes a lot of useful details on data transfer and how to deal with different data formats.

Part four,” Choosing an Application,” is the longest section of the book. It features a critical review of 16 applications — one chart viewer, one “Planner-Plus,” 12 full-featured applications for PCs and two more for Macs. Generous use of tables of attributes helps the reader compare and contrast the various options.

Mark and Diana subtitled their book “The Complete Reference Guide to Electronic Charting and PC-Based Marine Navigation.” This is a fair characterization. They write with the assured confidence of experienced users of all these applications.

Back To Top


Boat Smart: Lake Michigan Devours Its Wounded

by Tom Rau, Senior Chief, USCG (retired) (Seaworthy Publications, 2006; 246 pages; $19.95)
Review by Chas Hague, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Des Plaines, Ill.

Smart boaters who have taken a boating safety course, either through the Power Squadron or the Coast Guard Auxiliary, will have learned what they should and should not do on the water. Really smart boaters will read Chief Tom Rau’s excellent book. From it, they will not only learn the what, but the why — why people on the water should always wear a life jacket; how to properly make a radio distress call; the value of a float plan; the hazards of drinking and boating; how anyone using a boat for any purpose (fishing, hunting) can get into trouble; what not to do with your GPS; and did I mention life jackets?

Since 1986, Chief Rau has been writing the “Boat Smart” column for dozens of media outlets around Lake Michigan and in the Midwest. He knows what he’s talking about. Citing examples from his 27-year career as a Coast Guard rescue responder, he describes hundreds of stories of boats in trouble and the rescues that took place. Some of these stories have happy endings. Many do not. The lessons given in these stories are far more vivid than a dry classroom lecture.

Any book concerned with safety is liable to be dreary and preachy — Chief Rau’s writing style manages to avoid this pitfall. He describes the casualties — and the rescues — with the kind of detail that puts the reader out on the rescue boat or in the helicopter. Every story has a point, clearly illustrating the safe way to enjoy the water, and what can happen if the boater is ignorant, or just a little careless. There is also a little bit of humor, such as the story of the man who fell overboard naked and had to swim to a crowded and decidedly non-nudist beach…

I am an instructor in boating safety. Material from Chief Rau’s book is going to be used in our classes. Thanks, Chief!

Back To Top


Boat Mechanical Systems Handbook:
How to Design, Install, and Recognize Proper Systems in Boats

by Dave Gerr (International Marine, 2009; 416 pages; $39.95)
Review by Jerry Powlas
Minneapolis, Minn.

It is a genuine pleasure to read just about anything Dave Gerr writes. His books range from popular broad-appeal works like The Nature of Boats to very specialized books like the Propeller Handbook and The Elements of Boat Strength. On this specialization scale, Boat Mechanical Systems falls somewhere in the middle.

In this book, the focus is on systems and the subtitle is accurate and descriptive: “How to design, Install, and Recognize Proper Systems in Boats.” For the surveyor and general reader, “recognize proper systems in boats” is the critical phrase.

Many will use this book as a reference. Often it will be consulted when there is already a problem with a particular system. Dave has anticipated this by including sections for analyzing common problems. Owners who are planning refits and upgrades to their basic systems will find the book to be an excellent starting point for planning purposes.

The book covers the fundamental mechanical systems that are common to all power and sailboats. It does not cover sailboat rigging, electrical systems, or electronics. The sail rig in not common to all boats and the electrical and electronic systems are not … well, mechanical.

Dave’s contention is that each of these groups of systems is sufficiently complex to deserve its own book. Engines are not covered, as such, but the book does cover their fuel and exhaust systems and their power trains. The systems are divided into sections: drivetrain, fuel, exhaust, rudders and steering, ventilation (including heating and air-conditioning), plumbing, and anchoring.

There are many formulas and calculations with examples so the reader can see whether components are properly sized and can properly choose new components in an upgrade or refit. Because the book is intended to be a reference book, it focuses on the mainstream systems seen in custom and production boats today. Even so, Dave can’t resist the temptation to take the reader into the dark corners where some interesting and unusual gear resides. In the section on drivetrains, we are shown the fundamentals of constructing a retracting dory propeller (I had always wondered how to do that). In chapter 13, the reader is treated to a lot of unusual ways to steer a boat, all of which have been tried and were to some degree successful. (You forgot the canoe J-stroke, Dave.) This collection of odd bits of trivia is typical Dave Gerr. He can’t help himself. While this stuff adds spice to the work, it fits nicely amid the mainstream methods and devices and, in some way, puts the ordinary stuff in perspective.

The book is illustrated with many photographs and line drawings. The line drawings are particularly nice; the book designer used them for decoration as well as illustration — a nice effect. There are many tables, calculations, and conversions in the appendices and a very strong bibliography.

Dave Gerr started as a naval architect with MacLear and Harris in 1979 and opened his own office in 1983 in New York City. He is currently the director of the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, which has produced more notable yacht designers than any other source; in fact, perhaps more than all other sources combined.

This book was written by the headmaster of the best school. It probably belongs in your library if you are curious about how good mechanical systems should be designed and built.

Back To Top


Walking on Water; a Voyage Around Britain and Through Life

by Geoff Holt (Seafarer Books/Sheridan House, 2008; 360 pages; UK £9.95, $19.15 U.S.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

When Englishman Geoff Holt was a young man, he was living the dream — making three transatlantic voyages and one round trip from Great Britain to the Mediterranean and back. Then, while preparing for a fourth transatlantic crossing, this one from the Caribbean back to England, he broke his neck in a diving accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down and confined him to a wheelchair with only limited use of his arms and hands. That was in 1984. He was 18 years old. Since then, he’s gone on to do some pretty remarkable things that many of us with “normal” physical ability would be hard-pressed to match.

Walking on Water; a Voyage Around Britain and Through Life is Geoff’s personal account of his accident and what led to his eventual circumnavigation of Great Britain in Freethinker, a specially equipped 15-foot Challenger class trimaran. The book gives us a daily account of his incredible voyage and, through a series of flashbacks, his childhood, the accident, and the years that follow. In those years Geoff got married, started a family, earned a college degree, and became an avid sailor who helped develop the Sailability program in Great Britain, which provides physically challenged individuals a chance to experience the freedom of sail that many of us take for granted.

Geoff takes nothing for granted. Throughout the book he freely acknowledges that without the support of literally hundreds of individuals and groups, his trip would have been impossible. But in spite of all the help, Geoff was the one who conceived the idea, set the goal, and did everything in his power to bring it to fruition.

Sooner or later we all end up feeling sorry for ourselves. It may be the loss of a job or loved one, a divorce, whatever. We find ourselves wallowing in our own self-pity, wondering, “How could something like this happen to me?” But after a time we get through it, realizing that life goes on and you have to play the hand you’re dealt, as the old saying goes. Walking on Water gives us a glimpse into the indomitable human spirit we sometimes have to look for to keep going. And Geoff Holt has given us someone we can all look to as a role model, no matter where our lives seem to be. This is a very worthwhile read from the perspective of an extremely worthwhile individual.

Back To Top


Land of Men

by Edward Muesch (iUniverse, 2008; 308 pages; $18.95).
Review by Richard Skaff
Los Angeles, California

Sailing is man’s unifying experience. It is the path toward his oneness with nature. The love of the sea is innate in every man’s soul, because it captivates him and entices him with its majesty, beauty, and measureless bounds, promising him unending bliss and tranquility.

Man has been spellbound by the sea from the dawn of time. The sense of infinity and mightiness it emanates draws man to it and immerses him in a temporary sense of eternity. It calls on him unconditionally to explore it, and always welcomes him into the warmth of its womb.

The love of the sea can blind a man’s perception of the world and of his own life. He can become compelled to leave everything behind in order to contemplate his soul and to consummate his union with nature. That is exactly what happened to Samuel Dover, a character in this novel.

In Land of Men, Ed Muesch explores the love of sailing and of the sea. The main character leaves his life to launch into a new one filled with excitement and adventure, hoping that he will rediscover his lost self in the deep waters of the ocean.

Samuel Dover separates from his wife of 27 years because of his stubborn compulsion to follow his dream of sailing around the world. He purchases an antique sailing ketch that appears to come directly from the past, restores the vessel to its original condition, and names it Dark Trader. His obsession with his dream does not scare him when he learns that the ship has a dark and troubled history: the boat was abandoned and the crew disappeared on two different occasions. He hires Mike, a former bar bouncer he found to be the perfect mate for his mission, and they set sail from Annapolis, Maryland, for the Marquesas, following the course of the original Dark Trader.

Upon landing in Nuka Hiva, the “Land of Men,” Captain Sam and Mike discover a land of the past; they’re in the 1800s where mysticism and warriors rule. Sam falls in love with the native Kaitu, who has haunted his dreams from his first moments on the schooner. He will do whatever it takes to be with her, but as they attempt to change their destinies, fate intervenes and eradicates their dreams.

I found this novel to be intriguing, captivating, romantic, and spiritual, though confusing at times, but definitely entertaining and well written. It is a mix of fantasy and reality that keeps the reader interested and yearning for more.

Back To Top


The Trailer Sailer

by Gregg Nestor, (Paradise Cay Publications, 2008; 330 Pages; $17.95)
Review by Bill Sandifer
Mandeville, LA

If you can ask a question about trailersailers, this book can answer it. If you use the information provided in this simple volume you’ll be successful in acquiring, outfitting, and caring for your trailersailer.

To say this book is complete is an understatement. It is a guide, in a very generic way, to selecting, buying, outfitting, trailing, and maintaining a trailersailer. But it’s not a follow-the-dots route or a cruising guide. Rather, this book offers plain advice on everything a sailor needs to know about the boat itself. It covers owning a trailerable boat, related equipment, and the trailer but does not get into the sailing of the boat.

Author Gregg Nestor goes into detail on most subjects. His deep interest in chemical engineering is apparent, as the most extensive chapters of the book concern sealants, cleaners, and their uses. He is to be commended for including it as this invaluable information is hard to find and is applicable to any modern boat.

There are the usual chapters on outfitting, anchors, and so on, but this is all well-plowed ground. In this instance, there truly is nothing new under the sun and Gregg affirms this. While all of the knowledge is useful for the person new to trailersailing, there are texts on the market offering the same information.

The Trailer Sailer is rather uniquely organized. The chapter on engines is followed by one on the battery, electrical interference, sail management, the galley, sealants, and then back to engine lubricants and coolants. This presentation is somewhat disjointed and distracting to the reader. I would prefer to see all the engine information in one chapter or at least each subject followed by a related subject.

In summary, the book presents a lot of basic information valuable to trailersailors and fulfills its stated purpose of being an owners’ manual for trailersailing, but it does not tell the reader how much fun and adventure he can have with a trailersailer.

What I really missed are Gregg’s sea stories about his own experiences; they would have greatly enhanced the text. Maybe we’ll get them in his next book. But if you need no convincing because you already have dreams of sailing a small boat off into the sunset, The Trailer Sailer will be a very useful reference.

Back To Top


Sailing There: Cruising Across Europe and the Mediterranean

by Patricia Vellinga (Peacock Hill Publishing, 2009, 312 pages, $16.95)
Review by Erich Drescher
Ottawa Lake, Mich.

A delightful read about a couple’s adventures while exploring European canals and sailing across the Mediterranean, Sailing There is populated with a host of eccentric characters including a bouillabaisse chef, gruff bargemen, disinterested port officials, mafia youth and, of course, other cruisers.

Pat and Ray’s one-year cruise is extended indefinitely as they become accustomed to a lifestyle full of suspiciously friendly people, culinary surprises, local wines, and emergency boat repairs. The learning curve, from the initial splashdown in Rotterdam to the far off Greek Isles, is quite steep, which leads to numerous near-disasters.

By the end of the first year, Pat and Ray are knowledgeable cruisers and don’t have to worry as much about the Mediterranean mooring system, foreign language weather reports, custom’s clearance procedures, or the “surprise” of the mistral winds. They actually have time to enjoy the history they are sailing through and many times find themselves in ports that existed 2,000 years ago.

Woven throughout the story is the running joke about how the factory-described “turnkey” yacht actually ended up being more of a “yacht kit” — some assembly required. Oh, you thought a ship’s wheel was needed? Don’t worry about those missing engine components — they’ll just break anyway. Oh yes, all the brass instruments are usually stolen prior to launch — it saves on weight. What ensues are multiple trips to the local nautical chandleries (sometimes not so local) spread across numerous countries. The scavenger hunt for parts, decent canvas makers, welders, and provisions will be familiar to anyone who owns or crews on a sailboat.

All in all, this book is a very entertaining read, and a great book to curl up with. Sailing There does a wonderful job of transporting the reader to the sunny Mediterranean and, while reading it, you can almost feel the sunshine on your back and the salt in the spray.

Back To Top


This Old Boat, Second Edition

by Don Casey (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2009; 576 pages; $49.95)
Review by Beth A. Leonard
Syracuse, New York

Don Casey’s This Old Boat gave thousands of classic fiberglass boats a new lease on life while providing their owners with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and uncountable hours of sailing pleasure. Now, This Old Boat has had its own extensive refit — and not a moment too soon. At a time when the price of a new boat has increased to fractions of millions of dollars but many families’ savings have been cut in half, Don throws a lifeline to would-be boatowners, offering them a way to realize their sailing dream without busting their already-battered budgets.

The “generic service manual for old boats” leads would-be do-it-yourselfers through every step to bring a 20-, 30- or 40-year-old boat back to as-new condition. Early chapters detail how to put together a work list and develop a budget while addressing such critical issues as “differentiating between thrift and cheap” and “knowing when not to do it yourself.” Later chapters lead readers through the refit: restoring gelcoat, re-tabbing bulkheads, rebedding deck fittings, installing new hatches, refurbishing a mast, upgrading electrical and plumbing systems, installing refrigeration, and varnishing woodwork. Casey’s workmanlike approach, step-by-step instructions, and “learn-by-doing” projects ensure that even someone with little DIY experience can successfully install a leak-proof portlight or replace standing rigging. His folksy style makes what should be tedious material enjoyable and easy to read.

Even if you have the first edition of This Old Boat, you’ll want to buy the second edition. The book has grown by half and covers a variety of new topics, including a detailed chapter on refrigeration that tells the “cold truth.” Don has cut outdated information and rewritten 70 percent of the remaining material. Most of the first edition’s “bar-napkin drawings,” as Don refers to his own artistic efforts, have been replaced by high-quality Fritz Seeger illustrations. The new edition does have a few shortcomings. The headers shown in the Table of Contents do not match the headers in the chapters, making it frustrating to locate specific material. Don does not address some of the newer products that offer big advantages in refitting older boats, like LED lights and cored panels (instead of marine ply).

But the basics are all here, presented with humor and honesty, in a way that makes the reader want to roll up her sleeves and dive right in. The new edition comes at just the right moment to keep the sailing dream alive for a whole new generation of budget-conscious cruisers.

Back To Top


Cap’n Fatty’s Cruising World Yarns

by Fatty Goodlander (CreateSpace, 2009; 220 pages; $19.95; also available in Kindle edition, $7.96)
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, Wash.

Fatty Goodlander is a sea gypsy. He was born into a family of sea gypsies and writes of this life with charm, humility and bountiful good humor. He was raised aboard an aged wooden John Alden-designed schooner, Elizabeth. Even through a cold winter hauled out in Chicago, his parents warmed Fatty’s heart with tales of the wonders that awaited the family in the tropical islands of the South Pacific.

In addition to self-confidence around boats and his love of the sea, Fatty’s father exposed him to the art of telling sea stories. He allowed Fatty to sit quietly in the cabin of Elizabeth and listen as waterfront characters told stories into the night. That ancient art form infuses Fatty’s writing, adding greatly to its appeal. Most readers of his columns in Cruising World magazine probably sense this intuitively. They may also recognize some of the “yarns” in this collection, but will surely enjoy their re-telling.

It is his professional life as a “salt-stained ink slinger” that supports his real life as a sea gypsy. Fatty readily admits that this keeps him and his lover/navigator/wife Carolyn on a very modest budget. But he emphasizes that sailing around the world on peanuts just requires “more effort, determination, and intelligence.”

Parkinson’s disease curtailed his father’s dreams of sailing to the Polynesian Islands but, decades later, Fatty completed the dream. He and Carolyn sailed into an anchorage off Fatu Hiva during their “big fat circle” aboard a boat they had salvaged off the bottom a decade earlier. The “yarns” in this book capture many of the high and low points in their circumnavigation — with a special focus on the people and cultures they encountered along the way.

This book can be read on many levels: as a “how to” guide for sea-gypsy wannabes, especially those of modest means; or as an armchair adventure filled with exotic people and places from around the world. For me, it is foremost a love story of a man, a woman, their boat and the sea (see page 29 for a powerfully moving description of what it means for a sea gypsy to lose a vessel that he brought into existence with his own hands).

Back To Top


The Motion of the Ocean, 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers
and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife

by Janna Cawrse Esrey (Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2009; 313 pages; $15.00)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

“…my fear of not having lived life is more powerful than my fear of living it.”

In The Motion of the Ocean, Janna Cawrse Esarey shares with readers the “tale” of an average newlywed couple who go on a two-year honeymoon cruise across the Pacific Ocean aboard their 1973 Hallberg-Rassy Rasmus 35-foot sailboat, Dragonfly.

But don’t be fooled. Janna and Graeme’s story is not just a cruising account. It’s also a love story, a comedy, and sometimes it will even bring tears to your eyes.

Divided into parts, readers first get an insight into Janna and Graeme’s early relationship, leading up to their decision to finally tie the knot, quit their jobs, and take a cruising honeymoon — and all the preparations required for this trek.

The author then takes us along on her two-year journey. The couple sails from Seattle south to Mexico, across the Pacific and, finally, to Hong Kong (with many stops at island destinations in between). Some sections are written in a log format, others in chapters, and the blend is an easy-to-understand account of this voyage, both in destinations and emotional growth.

The story is about two very different individuals who end up “stuck” on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean — alone — together. Janna and Graeme have completely different viewpoints when it comes to sailing (one more technical; the other more hands-on) and what’s important in their new lifestyle. As time goes on, they find out these are not the only things they disagree about.

Their once busy over-scheduled Seattle lives have changed drastically and the complete shock of it all soon has Janna feeling unloved, unneeded, worthless and confused. Over time, Janna comes to the tough realization that all she and Graeme have is each other and that has to be enough. Then she begins to find herself — and that is, in fact, what The Motion of the Ocean is truly about — a woman’s passage to finding and understanding herself.

Janna’s biggest fear is that Graeme will fall overboard during one of his middle-of-the-night watches — as he pees overboard — and be forever lost at sea as she sleeps. She has other fears as well, many of them seemingly small. But despite these very real fears she also realizes that: “…my dream of sailing into the sunset with him is, in the end, more powerful than my fear of it.”

The Motion of the Ocean is a book about relationships with a sailing backdrop. Janna writes from her heart, making her book valuable for any “sailing”couple. Additionally, it easily sails across the “boat book”genre line, making it a great read for non-sailors as well.

Back To Top


Mary’s Voyage

by Mary Caldwell and Matthew M. Douglas (Sheridan House, 2008; 259 pages; $19.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minn.

Mary? Mary who? Remember Desperate Voyage, John Caldwell’s well-known book about his ill-fated solo voyage? When World War II ended, John left Panama headed for Australia and Mary, his wife. With zero sailing experience under his safety harness, John’s “landfall” came when his 29′ cutter smashed on a coral ridge near Fiji.

Undaunted, however, John and Mary Caldwell, with their toddler and infant sons, became the first family to attempt a circumnavigation aboard a 36′ John Hanna-designed sailboat. They had only a sextant and dead reckoning for navigation. Oh, and Mary was pregnant when they slipped the lines in 1952.

Most folks thought them lunatics. “So are we crazy?” Mary asked. “Of course we are!” John replied. “But look at is this way. The rest of the world is even crazier. It’s all about greed and screwing your neighbor and smiling while you do it.” John said he preferred dying at sea to being buried ashore after 30 years of mindless routine and a gold watch.

Mary’s Voyage, the sequel to John’s book, is extremely readable. In a down-to-earth way, it traces the course of a couple who balanced the challenges of sailing and the onboard parenting of three children under age 4, with the rhumb line that was their dream. Black-and-white photos throughout the book document ports of call and the little boys who grew to crew.

Their experiences evoked emotions across the spectrum. When Tropic Seas left Haka Hetau after five weeks, the butcher’s wife gifted them with a 6-week-old goat to be butchered at sea. (You can guess what the boys thought of that idea.) In Moorea, the Caldwells watched a group of sharks violently attack a horse that had wandered into shallow water. Then there was a 70′ whale and a Tuvuthan couple who wanted them to sing cowboy songs. And John’s palm tree plantings throughout the Grenadines brought him the nickname “Johnny Coconut.”

The book holds gentle lessons, perhaps unintended by the author, but clear to a reader with an open heart. Mary’s simple prose takes us from the sea to shore where the family buys land, to 81-year-old John’s last trip over the waves of the Caribbean as his grandson, Justin, flew his casket across the water. The ending captures the yearning of a land-bound soul who spent a lifetime smelling the ocean air and seeing brilliant stars unimpeded by the lights of land. Mary’s Voyage is well worth your literary dollar!

Back To Top


Whiskey Gulf; A Charlie Noble Suspense Novel

by Clyde Ford (Vanguard Press, 2009, 264 pages; $24.95 U.S., $31.95, Canada.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wis.

Author, chiropractor, and therapist Clyde Ford has written ten books — five non-fiction and five fiction. Whiskey Gulf; A Charlie Noble Suspense Novel, is Ford’s fifth work of fiction, and the third in the Charlie Noble series. Noble, who narrates the story, is a former Coast Guard officer now working as a private investigator specializing in marine crimes in the Pacific Northwest while living aboard Noble Lady, a 36-ft. Willard Aft Pilothouse trawler. In Whiskey Gulf, Noble is hired by a local yacht club in Bellingham, Washington, to investigate the disappearance of a sailing couple after they strayed into a military test area, Whiskey Gulf, during heavy fog. Whiskey Gulf is in the Canadian Waters of the Strait of Georgia and, at the time of the disappearance, the area was active with a joint-training exercise involving Canadian and U.S. forces.

It’s obvious from the beginning that Ford knows and understands boats and the people who use them, either for professional or recreational purposes. One interesting passage concerns the yacht club that hires Noble. He states that “most yacht clubs are. . . a collection of ordinary men and women with an extraordinary love for boats and the camaraderie that love engenders . . . men and women who stay young at heart by boating whenever and wherever they can.” This sounds like the kind of yacht club many of “the rest of us” may belong to. Ford’s writing style is such that we can tell he knows boats and boaters, how they behave, and how they feel.

Being from the Midwest, I was curious, so a cursory Google search revealed that the islands, channels, and other geographical features in the story, including the Whiskey Gulf area, are real, which makes the story more interesting. The plot is entertaining and moves well, but there are times when the reader may wonder if the author didn’t almost over-do it. The book is about one-fourth the size of your typical Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan novel, but Ford crams in a lot of stuff. It’s a spy novel/detective story, with a love story subplot, and a healthy dose of Native American lore and post 9/11 intrigue thrown in. In fact, there are hints of a contemporary version of Erskine Childers’ classic, The Riddle of the Sands.

Having said all that, Whiskey Gulf is an easy read for anyone who likes stories that move fairly quickly, with articulate attention to detail that enhances the author’s credibility. If you’re looking for something to fill a few evenings or afternoons when the weather dictates that you stay tied to the dock, Whiskey Gulf fills the bill nicely.

Back To Top


Escape from Hermit Island; Two Women Struggle
to Save Their Sunken Sailboat in Remote Papua New Guinea

by Joy Smith in collaboration with Leslie Brown (Seaworthy Publications, Inc., 2008; 272 pages; $19.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

When Joy Smith and Leslie Brown’s 34-ft. sailboat hits a coral reef off the north coast of Papua New Guinea, they never, in their wildest imaginings, could have foreseen the challenges they would face. One minute they were motoring to their anchorage; the next minute, Banshee is crashing onto the reef, splitting her fiberglass hull. Joy is trapped below, behind a door that shuts on her finger, as the sailboat begins to sink ten feet down, less than a mile from the shore. Not a minute too soon, Joy is pulled up out of the sinking vessel by one of the locals.

But the story only begins there. After surviving the sinking, these two women are thrown into a world of chaos as they lose control of their home (Banshee), their belongings, and their lives. Forced to move to living quarters onshore, they are also expected to follow the religious customs of the devout Seventh Day Adventists who inhabit the island and live by the strict community rules of these Papua New Guinea villagers.

As Banshee slowly goes down, the village people make their way out to help remove all of the women’s belongings and gear — then dumping all the waterlogged items on the beach for later retrieval. But this is when the first of the many problems begin — when these communal people see things they like and start claiming them as their own. Later, when the shipwrecked women attempt to repair their boat, the items they need to do the work are gone — not to mention clothing and food items.

To make things worse, though these courageous women know how to repair Banshee, the men of the island refuse to allow them to do the work, as they believe it is “men’s work.” Frustrated beyond belief, Joy and Leslie are forced to work alongside or watch as the men attempt to do the repairs their way — then sneak onboard their own boat to work on it at night and on the Sabbath. Joy has to travel from the remote island to acquire some of the materials required for the reparation work – travel in a third world country is difficult and the people are not always friendly to visitors.

Joy tells this incredible story in two points of view: her own and Leslie’s. The two very personal insights give readers an extremely real and very personal perspective. Escape from Hermit Island is guaranteed to hook you. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down — until you find out how these determined women, over two years, pulled Banshee off the reef, repaired her and all the required gear, survived living in a very different culture, got their lives back, and sailed away.

Back To Top


Building Kettenburgs

by Mark Allen (Mystic Seaport Museum and the San Diego Maritime Museum, 2008; 224 Pages; $50)
Review by Joe Ditler
Coronado, Calif.

The legacy of Kettenburg Boat Works can be seen in the sheer number of wooden vessels still plying the Pacific Ocean. It’s a story of the last of the “amateur” yacht designers, builders, and racers to gain a following based on the quality of their work alone, rather than on an academic pedigree. They were sailors first, designers after.

The San Diego-based company started in 1919, at about as grass roots as one could get, lowering hand-made boats into the swampy waters off Shelter Island on roughly hewn wheels and ways. They had to wait for high tide to lift their larger creations out of the mud.

The San Diego Maritime Museum, in conjunction with Mystic Seaport Museum, has produced a vivid coffee-table book that captures the legacy of the Kettenburg family, their boats, and what made them so special.

“Initially, building the Kettenburg boats provided the basis for a family business,” said Raymond Ashley, director of the San Diego Maritime Museum. “Ultimately, it provided a kind of maritime immortality, a deepening patina of legend that has followed the boats themselves as they sail across the decades and generations.”

Ashley pointed out that the Kettenburg PC was the first popular class of ocean-sailing boat in Southern California that people of ordinary means could aspire to own. Today, there are dozens of them still afloat and racing. The PC Fleet is extremely active (and inexplicably competitive) on a weekly basis in San Diego.

The Kettenburgs created a name people could trust and a boat you knew would not fail you. They were known for their integrity and their appreciation of both the people building, and the people buying, their boats. A plaque hung in Paul Kettenburg’s office heralded two simple words: “People Matter.”

From high-speed vee-bottom rumrunners of the 1920s to the Pacific Class (PC) sailboats of the 1930s; from government fishing boats and plane-rearming contracts during World War II to the classic Pacific Cruising Class (PCC) after the war, the Kettenburg boats left their mark on the world of boating.

The book is 224 pages of well-researched information on the Kettenburgs and their product, carefully prepared by historian Mark Allen. Among the chapters inside are “Early Ideas and Designs,” “Rumrunners,” “Birth of the PC,” “Greyhounds of the Sea,” “Wartime Competition,” and “The Kettenburg People.”

Paul and George Kettenburg have passed on, but the Kettenburg family fully cooperated to bring this graphic and insightful book to completion, sharing photographs that had never been seen by the public.

The photographs alone are spectacular. Combine this with the well-researched history and lively anecdotes concerning the Kettenburgs and their boats and you have a book that you’ll be proud to set out for others to see. No dusty bookshelves for this quality volume.

Back To Top


The Dangerous Book for Boaters,
a Humorous Waterfront Guide to the Ways & Wiles of Boaters

by Marlin Bree (Marlor Press; 2009; 96 pages; $9.95)
Review by the Editors

Marlin Bree, author of many wonderful sailing narratives, including Wake of the Green Storm and In the Teeth of the Northeaster, has recently published something a bit out of line for his usual work: a book of laughs. Called The Dangerous Book for Boaters, a Humorous Waterfront Guide to the Ways & Wiles of Boaters, it’s a 96-page collection of nautical jokes and the kind of sayings you might find on a coffee mug or T-shirt. Meant for sailors and powerboaters alike, it might be just the thing if you need a T-shirt or theme for the next rendezvous.

Back To Top


25 Basic Knots

by Brion Toss (Western Media Products, www.media-products.com, 2009; 80 minutes; $22.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

In 25 Basic Knots, his DVD companion to his Working Rope Series of books, Brion Toss simplifies knot-tying. He tells which knots he values and which classics (square knots and bowlines, for example) are overrated. Not to worry. If he lowers your estimation of one knot, he’ll replace it with another two that are just as easy to tie and far more secure. Master rigger Brion Toss is certainly a consummate knot guy.

One thing he does, to help those of us with two left hands, is to film the knot-tying process over his shoulder so we can see his hands oriented in the same way that we’re looking at our own paws with a couple of hunks of line in them. He even shows how to tie a left-handed version as well as a right-handed version of most knots and notes that the situation is not always set up as you’d find it in the classroom. So he shows alternative situations for each knot. And, smooth talker that he is, Brion soothes your stress while talking you out of your fear of knots. Besides, you can play and replay this DVD until you get it. No one will know how many times you’ve been through a section. Don’t ask me how I know.

The list includes the Figure 8, which he uses as an example to show how to think of tying a knot as a fluid action. Don’t even think about “this part through here and that part through there.” Just do it. Don’t pause to consider and it will come naturally. Others included in the DVD’s list of 25 knots are: loop knots such as the butterfly and bowline; bends such as Ashley’s knot, the double sheet bend, and the double becket bend; slipknots such as the slipped becket bend and the cavalry hitch; hitches including the buntline hitch, a round turn and two half hitches, several rolling hitches, the icicle hitch, the pilingspike hitch, and the carabiner hitch; binding knots (several variations on the constrictor knot), belays such as the capstan hitch, belaying pin hitch, and cleat hitch; and a few extras just to bring the total to 25: lashings, square knot, and good luck knot.

Good luck to you, too, if you can tie all these. But now you have a pocket Brion Toss on disc. You can refer to the master and his examples as often as you wish. No one can do it all at once. The gray in Brion’s hair attests to the fact that he wasn’t born with this knowledge either. He picked these knots up one at a time, tried them out, and is passing them along to the rest of us in a useful way. So during the off season, order the DVD, get out a couple of lengths of rope and a pole to tie practice knots around, and get busy . . . one knot at a time.

Back To Top


Instant Storm Forecasting

by Alan Watts (Sheridan House, 2009; 64 paqes; $14.95)
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

Everyone on this planet is affected by weather. Some — like sailors and motorcyclists — maybe more than others, so anything that could help us understand and maybe even predict the weather is good.

Instant Storm Forecasting by meteorologist and sailor Alan Watts is the latest in his now three-book “Instant” series. (The other two are Instant Weather Forecasting and Instant Wind Forecasting.) The 17 short chapters in this book are well illustrated with drawings and stunning photos.

Written by a sailor with sailors in mind, this book is actually for anyone who desires an understanding of weather, as it also covers mountain storms, avalanches, floods, and other land weather. But sailors come ashore, so these topics affect them also.

As a total weather dunce, I approached this book with a high level of trepidation, and also with high hopes that it would help me to finally understand this rather confusing topic. I understood the “basics,” but all those “highs,” “lows,” “depressions,” “occlusions,” etc., from the TV weather forecasts kept me thoroughly confused. I simply accepted their final forecasts with no real comprehension of the why’s or how’s.

The first two chapters cover the weather systems of the world and what drives them, and concepts that help in forecasting storms. The remaining 15 chapters focus on weather phenomena (like gales, thunderstorms, snowstorms, and tornadoes and waterspouts), explaining how each is formed, what causes them, and precautions and preparations to take when these storms approach. Most chapters also contain helpful charts on such things as El Niño, weather winds of the world, mountain weather patterns, storm indicators, and many others.

This is not a book for light reading. I found the need to read and re-read passages a number of times to grasp some concepts that I felt could have been better explained. The lack of a dedicated appendix with definitions of all the different terms is also a real shortcoming. The terms and their sometimes-vague explanations were buried in the text and difficult to locate when I wanted to read them again.

Instant Storm Forecasting will not turn someone into an instant weather guru but, with diligent study, it could help you to better understand our planet’s weather and what causes it, and to, occasionally at least, foretell coming storms — something useful to any sailor. I now (mostly) understand the television weather charts. Obtaining the two companion volumes would probably benefit anyone desiring more weather understanding.

Back To Top


Voices on the Wind

by Bonnie McGee (Skylark Publications, 2009; 120 pages; $44.95).
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minn.

“I grieve over the homogenization of people in the name of globalization, and hope that there will always be pockets of richness like jewels waiting for those who are willing to explore.” Bonnie McGee spent 4½ years circling the world aboard her 33’ boat, shooting photographs and writing down stories as she cruised. Exploring those “pockets of richness” was pivotal in her life. “Besides the incredible experience of nights at sea a thousand miles from shore, the sailing life teaches self reliance and opens your heart to the wondrous possibilities of living fully. Not much can compare with it.” Three friends were convinced; each bought a boat after hearing Bonnie’s stories.

Voices on the Wind, with its large 10 x 12” format and stunning photography, is more than a coffee table book. It is meant not only to be read, but experienced. Webb Chiles, in his introduction, describes Bonnie’s stories as the distillation of what a sensitive woman took away from the land and the sea.

Vignettes spotlight memories from the journey:
Jamaica: “Paint remover? No, Mon. We don’t carry it. Why would anyone want to remove it?”
New Guinea: “He glanced at the plump moon climbing high in the sky. Several times he wrinkled his brow and pursed his lips as if trying to phrase a question. Finally, he pointed to the moon and drew a deep breath. ‘I have heard,’ he began tentatively, ‘that a man from your country has walked on the moon.’”
Offshore: “Gary has arranged a troop of clothespins on the starboard lifeline and has begun issuing commands to them. Have we been at sea too long?”

Dynamic pictures bring the pilgrimage alive — wide pink smiles of toothless old men in straw hats; multicolored corals and creatures that live where land meets Mother Ocean, and below that ocean; native children playing in fields, paddling dugouts, grinning in the cockpit. From French Polynesia to Australia, New Guinea to Africa, across the Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope, Bonnie photographed and Bonnie wrote.

The circumnavigation ended over 20 years ago. Today, Bonnie is a successful Colorado artist who still loves the wildness of untouched places. She could be speaking of her life on the water rather than her artwork when she talks of trying to capture the power of wild places.  Her description of “the smallness of man against the backdrop of vast mountain vistas” could easily read: “The smallness of woman against the backdrop of a vast ocean panorama.”

Back To Top


Sea Survival Handbook: The Complete Guide to Survival at Sea

by Keith Colwell (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009; 156 pp; $16.95)
Review by Ted Brewer
Agazziz, B.C.

Sea Survival is the official handbook for the one-day Royal Yachting Association’s “Basic Sea Survival” course, and the two-day RYA/ISAF “Offshore Safety” course. It is extremely thorough in some respects but I feel it skims too lightly over many of the most vital aspects of safety and survival at sea.

For example, there are 11 pages on the subject of life jackets, including two pages on how to don the jacket, a full-page illustration showing an inflatable life jacket and all its various fittings, plus about 20 other illustrations. The subject of “Life rafts” is given 16 pages and “When to Abandon Ship” and “Abandoning Ship” are covered very thoroughly in 28 pages, replete with illustrations.

On the other hand, “Preparing for Heavy Weather” is on the frothy side with just five pages, and two of those are given over to full-page illustrations. Indeed, the whole of Chapter 4, ”Handling Heavy Weather,” is barely six pages long and half of those are on damage control and repair, with almost nothing on setting up a jury rig after losing the mast. The chapter does include two short paragraphs on sea anchors, with one rather pointless illustration, but nothing on sizing the sea anchor to the boat, making an emergency sea anchor, the length of warps, use of oil bags in extreme conditions, or other essentials.

In case of damage to rig or hull, one essential for survival at sea is a good toolkit and adequate spare parts, but the writer provides no comprehensive list of tools or spares. A first-aid kit is mentioned but, again, no list of essential instruments, equipment, or supplies.

Sea Survival has a lot of bones but not enough meat, too many fancy drawings but not enough text. In many ways it seems to be created for the neophyte and there it may serve well. Still, the book does provide valuable information for the offshore sailor — life rafts, survival kits, man-overboard recovery, searches, etc. If you buy the book I recommend that you study it thoroughly, perhaps making a small pad of notes, then read it again. When you are thoroughly familiar with some of the techniques, go out in calm water and practice the search, the MOB recovery, and righting the life raft. In any case, do not wait until someone’s life depends on it and then open the book; that will be far too late.

For those sailors who would like solid (and free) information on such subjects as heaving to in a gale, storm sails, sea anchors (and how to make one), securing the rudder, oil bags, etc., I recommend you go to the web and type in The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss. The whole text of the 1913 book is available. John C. Voss was a Canadian mariner of the early 1900s, the Captain of sealing schooners, the man who sailed a 26-foot Sea Bird yawl through a Japanese typhoon, and the man who sailed a 35-foot Haida Indian dugout canoe from the west coast of Canada to England via Australia and South Africa. Voss knew the sea in all its moods.

If you have the time, read the fascinating stories of Voss’s small-craft voyages but, first, go to the long and detailed Appendix for the Captain’s valuable advice on weathering storms at sea in small craft. And, for the more modern sailor, K. Adlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing, which was recently updated, has long been the bible for surviving that extreme storm at sea. Combined with Sea Survival, these books could someday save your life.

Back To Top


Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them

by Robert H. Perry (International Marine, 2008; 280 pages; $39.95)
Review by Milo Feinberg
Cambridge, Massachusetts

A refreshingly blunt book, even the title hides nothing: Yacht Design According to Perry is, as the title suggests, a chronicle of designer Robert Perry’s opinions, memories, criticisms, and philosophies concerning the world of boats and his impact upon it.

While Robert Perry’s career has been a varied one, Yacht Design According to Perry is focused on Bob’s development of fast cruising yachts, starting with the famous Valiant 40 and continuing through his many double-enders and, later, his fast cruising sleds. Indeed, the book encompasses everything from the chunky little Baba 30 to Icon, a custom 65-foot cruising sled carrying almost 2,000 square feet of sail while displacing only 27,700 pounds on her 58 feet of waterline. In his designs, Bob always attempts to combine the romance of boats from the boards of masters like Atkin, Garden, and Neilson, with the speed-giving qualities he learned designing to the IOR rule under Dick Carter prior to starting his own design firm.

Bob structures the book with alternating chapters, the first chapters are a series of memoirs chronicling the design of a boat or a series of boats; the second look at a specific element of boat design. The memoir sections of the book provide a history or an outline of his career, describing boats he built and the people he met building them, and giving telling accounts of a series of boats he designed for a company, or custom boats designed for clients’ particular needs. These chapters do a superb job of modeling the design spiral, providing an extremely clear and specific outline of the design process for each boat and illuminating Bob’s overarching concerns and style. The world of boats is made up of a wide variety of people with a wide range of perspectives, and Bob’s experiences as a designer remind us of this.

In the portions of the book devoted to providing information, Bob relates his own prejudices and preferences for different details of design. The information presented starts quite broadly, with descriptions of basic ratios and measurements, but by the end the book presents in-depth looks at concentrated areas of design features like bow, rig, and keel design. It should be mentioned that this book is not designed to please everyone; one of its many good qualities is that Bob sets down his opinions in a candid manner; no ink is wasted on temporizing. The book is also full of illustrations and drawings. Photographs abound.

Whether you’re contemplating your next boat, considering upgrading your present one, or just curious why the hooker moored across the harbor from you is faster than yours, this book will make an enjoyable read.

Back To Top


Seamanship Secrets

by John Jamieson (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 2009; 326 pages, soft cover; $18.95 USA / £14.99 UK.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

Most of us, I’m sure, have at least one edition of Chapman’s Piloting. I personally own two copies, a 51st edition and a 60th edition, both given to me as gifts when owning a boat was still a dream. They have proven to be excellent reference books, as I’m sure you realize, but there are a few drawbacks to Chapman’s: 1) If you try reading it from cover-to-cover it’s be a great cure for insomnia, but that’s not what it’s for. And 2) if you did try to read it at bedtime, it could cause minor injures because it’s so darned big. The information is useful to the point of being essential, but on Tortuga, my 26-foot Westerly Centaur, there isn’t much room to spare. Enter Seamanship Secrets by John Jamieson. Actually, the complete title is: Seamanship Secrets: 185 Tips & Techniques for Better Navigation, Cruise Planning, and Boat Handling Under Power or Sail.

At first I was a bit skeptical, wondering how John would fit all of that information into a paperback with only 326 pages, but he did. Simply put, the book could be considered a condensed version of Chapman’s, with 13 chapters on everything from how to read charts to diesel maintenance, reading tides and currents to understanding radar, basic marlinspike seamanship to . . . well, the list goes on. At the end of each chapter there’s a short “quiz,” if you will, entitled “Your Call, Skipper,” in which, “You’re the skipper or most knowledgeable crewmember on board. What actions would you take in the following situations?” You’re then presented with five scenarios relating to the chapter, followed by the best way to handle each situation from the author’s point of view. At the end of the book the author provides one appendix of “Useful Tables,” and another entitled “Additional Concepts and Formulas,” followed by a bibliography and an index, all pretty standard stuff for a book of this nature.

John freely acknowledges his gratitude to the people at Chapman’s, where he was on staff in their seamanship and chart navigation department. He also served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 23 years, so his credentials are quite impressive. Obviously the work isn’t as comprehensive as Chapman’s, but it isn’t meant to be and doesn’t profess to be, but you’ll definitely get a good bang for your buck. If you’re looking for a quick on-board reference guide or review, or if you want to brush up in the off-season, you would be hard-pressed to find something this comprehensive in such a small package.

Back To Top


Navigation Through the Ages

by Donald Launer (Sheridan House, 2009; 192 pages; $23.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

Navigation Through the Ages is a compendium of man’s quest to answer that most basic of journeying questions: “Where in the world am I?” Through six sections, Don traces advancements in techniques and tools from “Ancient Navigation” through the “Age of Discovery” to our contemporary “Electronics Age,” including separate sections on environmental factors affecting navigation and our current system of emergency signaling.

Due to the vast amount of improvements over the millennia, Don paints with a necessarily broad brush, allowing the reader the opportunity to research any particular interest further. Yet it’s amply illustrated with photographs and drawings.

Moreover, his treatment of navigation is universally appealing. Whether the reader gives it little thought beyond plotting GPS positions, is a student of romantic earlier navigation when charts carried the heart-stopping warning, “Here There Be Monsters,” or is simply put off by the “black magic” of celestial navigation and reams of sight tables, there is something for all.

The writing style is enjoyable, easy-to-digest, and practical. Content structure is well thought out and builds logically, step by step. As smoothly structured as an academic course, the book is natural enough to be enjoyed by a saloon’s swinging lamplight and shifting shadows. Offering a glimpse of our past, lesson and lore are cleverly intertwined.

Somehow an armload of dry technical and historical books has been reduced to a single volume. Skillfully, the author has kept the salient points, the human interest, and the ability to pique our curiosities. This voyaging-sized book is an excellent distillation, a catalyst for great discussions. That is the real magic held between its covers.

Try to fit this gem among your classics alongside Bowditch. It will earn its place with a rare combination of concise information and human interest, squarely answering one of passagemaking’s whispered concerns: “How do you know where we are?”

Back To Top


Ready to Sail: A Captain’s Guide to Boat Inspection and Repairs — Preparations of Boat and Crew for Offshore Passagemaking

by Ed Mapes (Sheridan House, 2009, 224 pages; $29.95)
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

Are you planning — or even just dreaming — of an offshore passage and aren’t entirely sure where to start or what to do to prepare for this daunting adventure? Don’t fret: you’re not the first, you’re not alone, and there is help. My own first offshore passage is still in the distant future but I firmly believe that it’s never too early to start preparations, and it’s always best to go directly to the experts for advice.

Ed Mapes is a licensed USCG Master Mariner and delivery captain who has spent a dozen years conducting boat inspections and teaching offshore sailing. After so many years of seeing boats and crews that were unsafe and ill-prepared for offshore sailing, Ed compiled his experience and know-how into Ready to Sail.

In 12 chapters Ed covers nearly every aspect of boat and crew preparation for offshore sailing. Starting from that initial impression when first seeing the boat, he progresses to inspection, repair, and maintenance of the hull, fittings, standing rigging, gear, and other systems normally on a cruising boat. The last three chapters cover safety, crew preparation, and preparing the boat for sea. Reading this book taught me a number of things about boats, and the repair and maintenance of their systems that I didn’t know before.

Ed likens this pre-passage inspection process to the initial marine survey before purchase of a yacht, but he says, “You’re no longer trying to determine whether you should buy the boat; rather, you must discover its faults and weaknesses in a much higher-stakes game — that of ocean readiness.” He emphasizes that you need to “focus more on function than aesthetics” and consider how each item of gear or equipment “will function in a rough seaway.” And that’s just in the first chapter!

Photos, illustrations, and charts are spaced throughout and each chapter concludes with a useful list of spares pertinent to that chapter’s topic. In three appendixes, Ed provides 15 separate checklists for such things as gear, tools, spares, and boat inspections to aid in your passage planning. They are generic and may need to be tailored to individual needs. There is also a helpful index.

This book starts off the mark in full sail and never slows ’til it reaches the finish as it leads you step-by-step in preparing for your own offshore passage. I highly recommend Ready to Sail to anyone considering an offshore passage or who has primary responsibility for the care and maintenance of a sailboat. This book is a “keeper” that would make a positive addition to any sailor’s library.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2008

Reviews From 2008

February 2008 Newsletter

April 2008 Newsletter

June 2008 Newsletter

August 2008 Newsletter

October 2008 Newsletter

Deceember 2008 Newsletter


Skywatchers 08: A Sky-guide Calendar

by Ben Shadick (Heritage House, 2007; 28 pages; $16.95 Canada, $12.95 U.S.)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

The night sky is full of starry friends. The trouble is that most city folk (even the sailors among us) are unfamiliar with these regular visitors. For those, like me, who would like to get to know the night stars – as well as for the advanced stargazers among us – the Skywatchers 08 calendar is a treasure. You could hang this calendar on the wall, I suppose, but it’s going to be much more useful to me as a training tool on the boat…out there where the sky is black and the stars are the brightest.

Author Stan Shadick teaches astronomy courses at the University of Saskatchewan and tells the recreational stargazers among us: “I hope to share with the reader some of the excitement of recent astronomical discoveries, along with the charm of ancient tales and First Nations legends about the constellations.” How does he propose to do this? Flip to any page of this calendar and you’ll understand instantly.

Each calendar page has a notation on every day of the month, with such useful information as this one selected randomly for January 23: “The ancient Greek and Roman mythmakers imagined that Cetus constellation depicted a whale. The great beast was sent by Neptune to ravish the coast of Ethiopia after Queen Cassiopeia bragged that she was more beautiful than Neptune’s nymphs.” The following day features a more technical blurb: “About 4 hours after sunset, look for Saturn rising above the eastern horizon. The ringed planet will be just 3 degrees to the left of the waning gibbous Moon, as shown on the map below.”

With the help of a small map in the lower corner, you should be able to find Saturn, as promised. And with the full-sized image of the Chicago night skyline, you should be able to recognize the stars in the January night sky. Flip through the calendar pages and the skylines change from Toronto to London to Vancouver to Baltimore and so on.

This isn’t just a 12-page full-color calendar for the wall. The publishers thoughtfully added pages so Ben Shadick could give us additional background, trivia, resources for stargazers, full-sky maps by season, and planetary conjunctions of interest (Saturn and Mars will be very close together on July 10, for example).

If you’re in Canada, Europe, or the northern half of the United States (anywhere between the 37th and 60th parallels), this calendar will be extremely useful every month of the year. Don’t be dismayed that we received this gem late in the year and its review doesn’t appear until the February newsletter. For those who are in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, it’s been a bit chilly for stargazing anyway. Spring is on the way. Now’s the time to get the calendar.

Back To Top


Cochrane, The Real Master and Commander

by David Cordingly
(Bloomsbury USA, 2007; 362 pages; $32.50)
Review by Patty Facius, Minneapolis, Minn.

It’s no news to serious readers of Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey series that their hero’s character is based on the real life naval career and exploits of the late 18th and early 19th century British frigate commander, Thomas Cochrane. What may surprise those readers, however, is the extent of the similarities between the historical figure and the fictional character: a captain loved and respected by his crews; a captain well-known for his brilliant tactics and seamanship; a close friend who serves as his ship’s surgeon; a man whose life seems almost charmed at sea but prone to controversy and ill-fated efforts on land, culminating in a ruinous stock market scandal. Sound familiar, JA readers?

Other authors, including C.S. Forester for his Horatio Hornblower series, have also drawn on Cochrane’s naval experiences. But author David Cordingly’s purpose for writing this book is not to pay homage to Cochrane’s literary legacy. Instead, Cordingly concentrates on his subject’s historical legacy that, according to the author, has not been fully recognized or appreciated by British naval historians.

The author tells the story of an ambitious man who was born into Scottish nobility and entered the British navy relatively late in life (at age 17) because the family fortune had been squandered by his father. If the young Lord Cochrane were to become a wealthy man, he would need to find a way to make his own fortune. At the same time, war with France was imminent. And serving in the British navy in time of war offered excellent prospects for quick promotion and prize money. But Cochrane turns out to be more than a resourceful and zealous Napoleonic-war era British naval captain. He is a man motivated by money, yet highly principled, and driven to fight for his honor, reputation, and place in history.

Cochrane was born a bit ahead of his time and suffered for it. He was elected to the British Parliament, where he fought for social reform and made many political enemies who considered him and his political allies as radicals and firebrands for revolution. Cochrane also made enemies of his superiors in the Admiralty by using his seat in Parliament to publicly criticize and condemn the navy’s traditions of flogging, press gangs, and overall poor treatment of its sailors. Not until years after he had left Parliament was Britain and its navy ready to enact the social and naval reforms he championed.

Cordingly assists the reader with an excellent glossary of 18th century naval terminology. Maps, battle diagrams and a cutaway line drawing with named parts of a 38-gun frigate (one of Cochrane’s commands) are also great aids to the reader. The book includes beautiful color plate portraits and paintings of the period, all relevant to Cochrane’s life at sea and on land. This book is well-researched and dense with background, not only about his subject but also about the political, social and naval life in 18th and 19th century Britain. Cordingly’s sources include the Cochrane family archives, transcripts of courts-martial, civil court lawsuits, ships’ logs and Cochrane’s controversial autobiography, The Autobiography of a Seaman.

This book certainly stands on its own as an excellent biography for historians or readers who are interested in naval history. If you fall into the latter category, and are also a Jack Aubrey fan, you will enjoy the best of both worlds.

Back To Top


Cruising with Bettie

by Bob Steadman and Kay Nottbusch, DVD and slide show
(produced by Bob Steadman, 2007; 51 minutes; $19.95 – available from http://www.TheSailingChannel.com)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Good Old Boat writer, Bob Steadman, and his partner, Kay Nottbusch, want to share their cruising adventures with the rest of us…those sailors who are dreaming, but not yet experiencing, the cruising lifestyle. Since leaving Los Angeles three years ago, they’ve cruised with a video camera or two, taken delight in experiencing new cultures and activities, and made good use of Bob’s experience as a professional cinematographer. This 54-minute DVD, supplemented with a visually rich slideshow, is a real treat for armchair sailors.

In 10,000 miles, Bob and Kay take us to the offshore islands of the Baja; to the mangroves of Bahia Tenecatita; to the Gulf of Tuantepec and beyond to El Salvador. They go hi-lining in Costa Rica, and dine in a restaurant full of monkeys and a tiki bar that is a swimming pool. They dive in Costa Rica, transit the Panama Canal, explore the Caribbean coast of Panama, and visit the San Blas Islands. They motor up jungle rivers and explore the Third World from a floating home.

By capturing just the highlights of 10,000 miles in 51 minutes, this professionally produced DVD takes the viewer on a fast-paced tour of the places visited and written about by many cruisers. But now the sights and sounds are available in a richer and moving medium. The final cruising destination on this DVD is the Bahamas.

The photographer in me is always aware of the trouble anyone must go to in order to capture images from several points of view. As is the case in any good film, Bob makes it look simple, but the tuned-in viewer will be aware that filming your own experience takes planning and execution, both before and during the experience. For some, trying to enjoy the moment while actually working to record it for the enjoyment of others may very well take away some of the joy of the experience. Bob has indeed sacrificed so that others of us may sail, dive, and beachcomb with the crew of Bettie. He may enjoy operating in this dual mode, but I don’t envy him.

The cruise of Bettie continues and the camera is never far away from Bob’s capable hands. Watch for more DVDs in the future by this dynamic duo. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored and photographed, edited, and shared with the rest of us. In addition, stay tuned for more articles from Bob Steadman in Good Old Boat.

Back To Top


Eileen Quinn Songbook for Voice and Guitar

(CD Baby, 2007; $49.95)
Review by Steve Christensen
St. Paul, Minn.

Jimmy Buffett may be the songwriter that most people associate with living in the islands, but ask any Caribbean sailor about cruising music and the name you’re likely to hear is Eileen Quinn. Eileen has been cruising full time since 1994, when she and her husband, David, left Toronto in their 1987 Bayfield 36, Little Gidding. Along the way she developed a style of music she calls “bluewater,” dealing with some of the lesser-known aspects of the cruising lifestyle, such as how to anchor your boat without the intervention of a marriage counselor. From Quinn’s The Anchoring Dance:

The perfect little parking place is easy to find
All you really gotta do is read his mind
If what your honey wants is hard to tell
When the hand signals fail, you can always YELL
Grind your teeth, shout till you’re hoarse
There’s always one more step, you can file for divorce
No better way to tell a true romance
Than to do, do, do, do, do, do the anchoring dance

She now has five CDs in her catalog, with songs that range from upbeat ditties about heaving over the rail to poignant songs about the dream of building a boat (for previews go to http://cdbaby.com/group/quinntessentials). Her newest project is the Eileen Quinn Songbook for Voice and Guitar. This is a CD ROM that contains the lyrics, melody music, guitar chords, chord charts, and tablature in printable form for all of her 61 songs. For 34 of the songs there is even a sound file with backup music for you to play along with and practice your chops.

Many of these songs would be great fun to learn for your next sing-along on the beach. My personal favorite is called “Trouble in Paradise” about relationships afloat. About the tune, Eileen notes,”I write songs to cope with stuff…and it seemed like a better idea to write this country lament about everything that was bugging me about my loved one instead of picking a fight.”

The songbook comes as a searchable PowerPoint presentation that requires Windows 98 Second Edition or later (so, for now, Mac users are out of luck). With this songbook and a bit of practice (and just a bit of talent) you will be the hit of any nautical sing-along.

Back To Top


Guy Harvey�s Underwater Realm

(Bennett Marine Videos)

Review by Amy Murphy, with Nora (4), Audrey (6), Emma (8), and Mike (older than 8)

Marine biologist and artist Guy Harvey travels the world�s oceans to study and film pelagic species. These journeys are documented in the DVD series, Guy Harvey�s Underwater Realm.

Guy Harvey�s Underwater Realm: Sharks

(24 minutes; VHS, $24.95; DVD, $29.95)

Sharks have existed on Earth for 400 million years. In the past few decades, their numbers have been greatly reduced, and their continued existence as a species is desperately threatened. Graphic video footage illustrates the exploitation and mistreatment of sharks for use as food or in alternative medicines. This effectively drives home the gravity of the situation, but the more sensitive viewers in our family found it distressing.

Far more enjoyable were the wonderful underwater sequences filmed at the �Shark Rodeo Dives� in Walkers Cay, Bahamas. Close encounters with reef and black tip sharks were exciting and informative. This title was packed with information, and most appreciated by the adults.

Guy Harvey�s Underwater Realm: Pacific Sailfish

(17 minutes; VHS, $24.95; DVD, $29.95)

Some of the best waters for finding pacific sailfish are off the shores of Guatemala. Although this species is quite popular among sport fisherman, little is known about their feeding and group behaviors.

Dr. Harvey�s team of researchers visits the waters of Guatemala to observe the fish from beneath the surface. Breathtaking underwater videography, combined with compelling narration, made this a favorite for the whole family.

The 6-year-old viewer particularly enjoyed seeing sea-turtles and other fish under a floating tree. The conservation message was refreshingly positive.

Guy Harvey�s Underwater Realm: Striped Marlin

(23 minutes;VHS, $24.95; DVD, $29.95)

Dr. Harvey travels to the Baja peninsula with a group of scientists and artists to view the striped marlin up close. Video footage of striped marlin circling baitballs and interacting with other predators was as fascinating as we had come to expect. The adults found the informational content somewhat sparse, but the youngest viewers requested several encore viewings.

Back To Top


Mighty Merry Too

by Mary McCollum
(Merry Publishing, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 2007; 199 pages; $15.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

Author Mary McCollum lived the dream. She retired from her teaching career, sold her home and belongings and moved onboard her boat. And she sailed. Unlike many navigators who map out their route in great detail in advance, Mary took her time, letting weather, seasons, and simple intuition dictate the course she took as she sailed solo aboard Mighty Merry Too across the Pacific Ocean.

Mary�s conversational style of storytelling quickly draws the reader in — as if she is telling her story face to face, or allowing one to read her diary. One can certainly imagine sitting down for a beer or cup of coffee with this navigator/grandmother, while in animated conversation she shares her adventurous tale. When asked where she got her confidence to embark on such an endeavor solo, more than likely she�d quote her father: �Anybody can do anything once they set their mind to it.� Mary believes these words to be true, as is evident in her steadfastness and ability to continue on, even when she meets with obstacles and unpleasant circumstances along the way.

Researching and finding her perfect boat for solo cruising, a 24-foot Dana, she orders one and waits. Finally taking delivery of the vessel in Seattle, Washington, she sails Canadian waters and explores the San Juan Islands. She decides to sail from San Francisco to Mexico, then to South America (Ecuador), the Cook Islands, New Zealand and numerous points in-between and beyond. Along the way, Mary treats readers to descriptions of the sights and the people of the regions, tells us about the fellow sailors she meets, and relates lessons she learns along the way.

Unlike other navigation books that begin with the embarking on a planned cruise, Mary starts off by revealing a lot of back story in order to explain why �a little gray-haired grandmother� would have the desire to sail solo across the Pacific in the first place. Readers are given a detailed account of her parents� immigrant beginnings and lives; a history of her childhood; sailing beginnings; her own marriage, divorce, career and family life, and, ultimately, an explanation of how she made the decision to make sailing her life.

Some readers might find themselves wondering when the author is going to get to the sailing part of her story. Although family members and friends who know Mary may appreciate all that led up to her journey, the majority of those who regularly read sailing accounts could do with a much more condensed version.

Those who do read on will find a pleasantly surprising ending, which led me to wonder if a sequel to Mighty Merry Too might be in the works…

Back To Top


Cruising Catamaran Communiqu�

by Charles E. Kanter, AMS
(SAILco Press, 2007; 407 pages; $29.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

According to the back cover of Cruising Catamaran Communiqu�, Charles E. Kanter has been a marine surveyor for over 36 years, and has been a liveaboard-cruiser for 15 of those years. So to say that he is qualified to write a comprehensive book on multi-hulled sailboats would be an understatement. In addition to his hands-on experiences, he co-authored Sailor�s Multihull Guide in the 1990s, wrote Cruising On More Than One Hull in 1992, and Cruising In Catamarans in 2002. As I was reading, there was no doubt in my mind that the man knows what he�s talking about. However, the title may be a bit deceiving as the book contains useful information on trimarans as well as catamarans.

Very early in the book, Kanter gives a fairly good treatise on cruising and much of the information is pretty generic and can be applied to mono- as well as multi-hulled vessels. He then goes on to extol the virtues of multi-hulled boats over mono-hulls, citing such obvious things as their shoal draft and stable ride. He also gives a lot of useful information on docking, hauling out, anchoring, the advantages of two engines over one, trampolines, and many other details on the characteristics of these boats. The back of the book contains some tips on having a survey done, a glossary of terms that he uses throughout the text, and a bibliography of other informative sources. All three of these sections contain information that, again, could be applied to all boats, regardless of the power source or number of hulls. In addition to all of this information, he reviews over 60 different multi-hulls, most of which are accompanied with line drawings and/or photographs.

There are some mechanical problems (spelling, grammar, etc.) that could have been avoided with more careful editing, but unless you�re an English teacher like me, these probably won�t bother you much. The layout also seems a bit awkward to me. For example, the section on anchoring would fit better with the rest of the technical information. Instead, it�s after the boat reviews, which makes it seem a bit out of place. Given these minor concerns, Cruising Catamaran Communiqu� will be a valuable asset to anyone thinking about purchasing a boat for cruising, or anyone who would simply like more information on multi-hulled sailboats.

Back To Top


On the Wind: The Marine Photographs of Norman Fortier

with introductions by Calvin Siegal and Llewellyn
Howland III
(David R. Godine; 2008; 160 pages; $40)
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

Norman Fortier, born in 1922, was still a youngster when he became interested in photography. Drafted into the military during World War II, he became an aerial photographer and honed his photography skills during the war before returning to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he took on normal photography jobs. He gradually migrated to marine photography, and in 1947 opened his own studio at the Concordia boatyard. The rest, as they say, is history.

On the Wind: The Marine Photographs of Norman Fortier, is a 9 x 10-inch coffee-table book with more than 140 black and white images depicting aspects of the Southern New England marine environment: mostly sailboats, but also motorboats, working trawlers, a couple of lighthouses, boatbuilders, and sailors, stunning ground level and aerial shots of bays and harbors, and even a few heartbreaking images of wrecked sailboats.

Anyone interested in marine photography, the Buzzards Bay area, or fine photography will find something to enjoy in these photos. This collection of images was culled from more than 100,000 negatives obtained by the New Bedford Whaling Museum. It is easy to see why Norman Fortier was in such demand as a marine photographer.

His work portrays a historical view of the New England coastal areas in which he lived and worked during the mid- 20th century. He attended and photographed hundreds of races and regattas in the area, and very few yachts passed through Buzzards Bay without being captured by Norman�s cameras.

The introductions by Calvin Siegal and Llewellyn Howland III discuss the history of marine photography in the Buzzards Bay area, give insight into Norman�s equipment and style, and provide a brief glimpse of the man and his life. The 127 pages of photos are divided into nine chapters selected by topic or region, such as Concordias, New York Yacht Club Cruises, The Islands, Cuttyhunk, and New Bedford.

Some of the photos I found to be most memorable included the four-masted Russian bark, Kruzenshtern, aerial photos of Padanaram and other harbors, children swimming on horseback off Naushon (a shot reminiscent of my own childhood experiences), and a heartbreaking shot of the 38-foot yawl, Seachief II, hard on the rocks.

This book displays some of the best in New England marine photography and would make a cherished addition to any sailor�s library.

Back To Top


Sailing Grace

by John Otterbacher
(Samadhi Press, 2007, 254 pages, $19.98)
Review by George Zimmerman
Olympia, Wash.

Extended worldwide ocean cruising is a dream of many sailors. Yet a very small percentage of sailors ever turn their dreams into reality. Lack of money, busy jobs, limited time, the inability to adequately prepare for such a venture, concerns over safety and other obstacles, real and/or self-imposed, get in the way. The dream just fades away.

Meet John Otterbacher, a Michigan clinical psychologist, state representative, later a senator, sailor, and owner of Grace — a 50-foot Bill Tripp-designed cutter-rigged ocean cruiser. John, his wife Barbara, and their three children return from a 16-month cruise on the Great Lakes with the burning desire to go �out-there� again, � . . . only for a longer time.� Two years into the planning and preparation phase of their cruise, John is working out on a Stairmaster when he experiences the pressure on an elephant stepping on the center of his chest. A rush trip to the hospital, angioplasty, and a diagnosis of severe coronary heart disease changes John�s live forever.

Sailing Grace is the story of a courageous man, with either an unbelievably strong will or incredible stubborn streak, and a love of sailing. Eighteen months before they are scheduled to leave on their ocean cruise, John and his wife confront his life-altering illness head-on. The first half of his book is an open, brutally honest discussion of how a formerly healthy man faces a life-threatening illness, and what his illness means to him, his wife and children. The surprise in this book is when John and his wife, decide to continue with their plans and take the entire family cruising on the world�s oceans.

This is a well-written book and a pleasure to read. The author has an engaging style of writing that enables the reader to identify with the very real crisis occurring in his life. The actual sailing that is undertaken in the book only happens in the second half and is somewhat limited. This is not a book about sailing; it is about the dream of world cruising, and keeping that dream alive. After finishing the book, the reader can follow the sailing adventures of John and his family through their website at http://www.sailing-grace.com. Having recently encountered my own life-altering illness, this book was an inspiration to me.

Back To Top


Storm and Conquest

by Stephen Taylor
(W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2008; 280 pages; $26.95)
Review by John Danicic
Minneapolis, Minn.

As a solid fan of the �Age of Fighting Sail� stories of Patrick O�Brian, CS Forester, Alexander Kent and Julian Stockwin, I have read the names Pellew, Corbet, the Nereide, Indiamen, and the (horrible) Leopard quite often. They are mentioned by these authors in their marvelous sea stories to give historical landmarks and outline to what are mainly fiction writings based on real events in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Author Stephen Taylor brings this historical account of a series of events in 1809 to life with a compelling, well-written book that describes what a succession of huge Indian Ocean storms did to the British East India Company�s convoy of ships known as Indiamen, and recounts a sea battle against the French in the same ocean for the strategic Mauritius Islands, then known as the Ile de France. Thus, the �Storm and Conquest� of the title. Both the French and the British principals are explored in a carefully written and arranged tale. Using excerpts from actual letters, logs and diaries, Taylor weaves a footnoted account that provides an accessible and readable history in a style that puts the reader on the deck through the eyes of those who were there, as well as supplying the underlying explanations of who, what and where. There are sobering descriptions of life aboard on what could be a 6-month trip from India to England, for even the well off �cabin� travelers will make that cramped airline coach ticket look like a feather bed.

There are also major insights to the names I listed above, including a fascinating description and explanation of Captain Robert Corbet, known as competent and zealous to his superiors but brutal to his crew. Using excerpts from the trials, journals and letters, Taylor brings out the official view but does not ignore the forecastle hands and, using their own words, lets the crew describe how they feel about Corbet. This quote, taken from one of the mutiny court-martial trials that Corbet survived: �If he would leave off beating them with the great sticks and take the knots out of the Cats they would go anywhere with him. If not they wished [for] another commander.� Patrick O�Brian relates to us his fictionalized version of Captain Corbet and the battle of the Mauritius Islands in the fourth book of his Aubrey/Maturin series, �The Mauritius Command.�

All in all, Storm and Conquest is a satisfying, entertaining read for both the dedicated non-fiction enthusiast and those fiction devotees interested in the historical background that underlie the stories of those great �fighting sail� writers.

Back To Top


The Best Used Boat Notebook

by John Kretschmer
(Sheridan House, 2007; 240 pages, $29.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Six years ago, John Kretschmer and Sheridan House came out with a compilation of 40 used-boat reviews that John had written for Sailing magazine. That book, Used Boat Notebook, was (and continues to be) a valuable resource for good old boaters.

Now a sequel, The Best Used Boat Notebook, has made its debut. The names and covers look very much alike and are likely to be confused.

Don�t let yourself be confused. John has made a second significant contribution to the bookshelves of those good old boaters who are shopping for their next sailboat, by offering reviews of 40 more great and affordable boats.

Each book (both can be purchased from the Good Old Boat Bookshelf) comes with reviews of 10 additional world cruisers, for a total of 50 boats in each book. John also includes appendix items of interest: dimensions and ratios (he explains the significance of those formulas and ratios, such as sail area-to-displacement) and a glossary of terms. The newer book even comes with John�s ode to good old boats: an article written about the value and worth of good old used boats.

A minor rant: the boats covered in John�s books are getting larger as time goes on, and the reader has to wonder why he included 10 new boats suitable for world cruising in his used boat book when there are many older candidates just as suitable?

As I noted when I reviewed the first of this pair of books in 2002, http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/octnewslett26.html#book, there is no sense in reviewing a book of reviews. Instead, I recommended the book highly and listed the boats that were included. I continue to recommend the newer book. Here�s the list of boats covered this time:

19- to 30-footers
West Wight Potter 19, Santana 22, Com-Pac 23, Nimble Kodiak 26, Grampian 26, Pearson 26, Bristol 27, Catalina 27,
Nor�Sea 27, Newport 28, Catalina 28, J/29, Alberg 30, Dufour Arpege 30

32- to 36-footers
Contessa 32, Freedom 32, Jeanneau Attalia 32, Islander 32 Mk II, Caliber 33, Pacific Seacraft 34, Sabre 34, Hallberg-Rassy 34, Tartan 34, C&C 35, CS 36 Traditional, Morris Justine 36, PDQ 36

37- to 52-footers
Express 37, Lagoon 37, Pacific Seacraft 37, O�Day 37, Prout Snowgoose 37, Cabo Rico 38, Privilege 39, Cal 39, Passport 40, Pearson 40, Venezia 42, Beneteau First 456, Irwin 52

10 great new boats to sail around the world
Tartan 3400, Southerly 110, Hanse 400, J/133, Hunter 45CC, Catalina Morgan 440, Island Packet 440, Cabo Rico 42, Lagoon 500, Beneteau 523

Back To Top


Celestial Navigation in the GPS Age

by John Karl
(Paradise Cay Publications, 2007; 280 pages; $24.95)
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, Wash.

John Karl provides the cleanest and most elegant introduction to the fundamental concepts of celestial navigation that I have read. I would even recommend this book to those who have a curiosity about how it all works but never intend to actually practice this ancient art.

He begins with a few essential fundamentals — a spherical earth with a surface organized via lines of longitude and latitude, celestial objects with known positions relative to a rotating earth, and an observer with a means to measure the apparent altitude of these celestial objects. These equal-altitude lines of position would really be circles if �drawn� on a globe.

John then develops the concept of the �navigation triangle� and introduces the Nautical Almanac, which will provide some of the key parameters of the navigation triangle. Next, it�s on to the math required to do a direct computation solution using a handheld calculator. And finally, he shows how the results can be plotted as lines of position on a chart of appropriate scale. John does compare and contrast direct computation versus sight reductions with tables (H.O. 229 and H.O. 249).

John includes a chapter on �Special Sights� with topics such as Polaris; meridian sights, including determining both latitude and longitude from meridian sights; finding time from a lunar line of position and a star fix. Then, John calmly takes the student to the holy grail of historical celestial navigation — lunar distances.

Only then, after he has helped his students put aside their angst about sight reductions, does John introduce the sextant and teach its use. The final chapter includes over 70 examples �for understanding and confidence.� Each includes useful comments to aid the learning process.

I recommend this book, without hesitation, to anyone with an interest in celestial navigation.

Back To Top


Spirit Sail — A Memoir of Spirituality and Sailing

by Nelson Price
(iUniverse, 2008; 114 pages; $14.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

Spirit Sail is about a special sailor�s vision, of seeing fundamental truths in much of what happens during his time afloat. The book�s premise is that, despite the contrast between the action-filled world of the sailor and the more sedate world ashore, they both have the same underlying values. Nelson Price explores these values in many of the sailing moments we take for granted.

His chapters on hospitality, friends, romance, and a variety of other subjects are the softer, subtler issues of sailing. Deeper significance as well as increased enjoyment are found in these aspects of boating life. The author has decades of experience in both faith-based programming and sailing that uniquely position him to write about this intersection of disciplines.

It is not an easy book to breeze through, by virtue of the subject matter. A sailor�s beliefs are quite often as fiercely defended as his or her lifestyle. Both are intensely personal matters. Overcoming this resistance takes a combination of willingness on the reader�s part and compelling precision on the writer�s.

If you are looking for a volume on sailing expertise or hardware, please look further. If, however, you hope to glimpse God�s awe on the water or the cause and effect of our relationships, there is insight here.

This light-hearted book is a readable joy-filled memoir finding meanings for us to consider, to ponder, and accept or reject as we may choose. Perhaps best of all, by the very exercise of choosing, each of us will have moved a bit more toward self-discovery.

For those who are open to examining the essence of our recreation, or perhaps have already sensed a link between the diversion of sailing and regeneration of spirit, consider the book Spirit Sail. Sailing, like life, can be enriched by discovering the currents beneath the surface.

The author seems a man without pretension � a passionate sailor sharing his great love of the world. I was left with the feeling that I�d like to spend an afternoon with him, to exchange theories, explore common ground. You might also.

Back To Top


Education of a Falcon

by Mike Riley
(Published by the author; e-book and audiobook available for downloading at <http://education.of.a.falcon.googlepages.com>, 2007; 180 pages; $5 to $25 depending on format)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Mike Riley, his wife Karen, and their son, Falcon, stepped outside the mold and cruised the world. Mike has published several books while based anywhere and everywhere in the wild blue yonder. Two of these books are about their adventures as a cruising family: The Tigers will Eat You Alive and, more recently, Education of a Falcon.

Education of a Falcon tells of Mike�s single life aboard his Columbia 24, Tola; meeting Karen in Papua New Guinea, where she had been working as a teacher; and the courtship and marriage that followed. He tells of their continued cruise as a couple, and the conception and birth of a son. Falcon is his name, and the way that came about is an interesting chapter in itself. For more, you�ll have to read (or listen to) the book. In addition, the choice of where to deliver a baby while cruising in the Mediterranean is an interesting tale, emphasizing the can-do attitude of many cruisers.

Although this book was written from Mike�s point of view, it is beautifully narrated in its audio form by Karen, whose storyteller skills as a teacher are evident. This role reversal makes perfect sense to the listener. While the book and audiobook chronicle the family�s life set against a cruising backdrop, they are not written as a log and they do not necessarily follow strict chronology. That is no problem for the reader or listener, who will realize that Mike makes occasional ventures backward and forward in time to bring organized thoughts together.

Reading or hearing a book like this makes it possible for parents with young children or those with babies on the way to comprehend what cruising with children is like. Mike does not sugarcoat the tale. He presents their experiences from his own perspective. He does have strong opinions about the quality of the cruising life they lead and, as a result, he preaches on occasion. It is a healthy and wholesome life and those who have not made similar choices will be envious. Those who may yet follow in the wake of the Rileys will be encouraged to do so as a result of reading the book.

The Riley family continued cruising on the Columbia 24 as a threesome but eventually they switched to a Dickenson 41 ketch, Beau Soleil. Mike ends the tale with a look at Falcon as a young man headed for college. The combination of home-schooling, public schooling, and the eclectic cruising lifestyle has enriched him in ways that put him far beyond other age-mates. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the structured collegiate world and the choices he will make going forward from there.

I, for one, have the highest of hopes for Falcon and all kids who have seen the world from the unique perspective of a small boat run by a loving cruising family.

Back To Top


Small Boats Big Adventures, The Small Craft Advisor Interviews

by Craig Wagner and Joshua Colvin
(Small Craft Advisor, 2007; 167 pages; $19.95)
Review by John R. Butler
Rogers, Arkansas

The Small Craft Advisor magazine has been called the �successor to The Small Boat Journal.� Editors Craig Wagner and Joshua Colvin, �minimalist� outdoor adventurers, missed reading a magazine devoted to real sailors with really trailerable sailboats and launched their answer over 8 years ago. One of their regular features has been interviews with fearless adventurers and respected designers.

Regular readers of The Small Craft Advisor will read and remember each of these interviews with renewed interest. Newcomers will discover a reading pleasure they feared had ebbed with the tides of publication.

Craig and Joshua know small craft. They ask the right questions to satisfy our individual interests in sometimes heroes. Even if you consider some adventurers to be masochistic madmen, they may answer the very questions you pondered when you first heard of their escapades, or just about their future plans. The editors wisely let the subjects control the length of the interviews. Some were short and sweet, others long and detailed. Some will leave you thinking, �That�s about the way I did it� — or �I would have, if only &helipp;�

Sven Yrvind, the psychopathic Swede, had such startling innovations and adventures that the editors introduced him with the following: �Few, if any, have taught us more about truly small boats offshore.� Among his ideas were a rudder with twice the lateral area of the centerboard and covering the inside of the hull with carbon fiber for greater strength.

The temptation is strong, when you scan the contents, to go directly to the interview about your good old boat, whether it was your past love or current source of adventure. I found both going directly to page 64. The interview with Jerry Montgomery shed new light on the Montgomery 15 sloop I owned in the �80s and am sailing again.

Do you dog-ear some pages, then underline or highlight especially interesting items? You�ll find many, like you really don�t need GPS, a windvane, or autopilot to sail around the world in a small boat.

I did wish that they had headers on every page giving the interviewee�s name � good for short memories! I also wished for more dates: issue or month, as well as the given year of the interview. Specific dates, when possible, of some of the adventures would answer �What was I sailing, and where, when he was out sailing there?�

This is not a �couldn�t put it down until I finished it� kind of book, but a fine one to pick up and read at every spare moment, to carry along for an appointment.

Better yet, immerse in it, late in the eve when the TV has gone adrift. Your ensuing dreams will love it. Or perhaps you will just be left wondering: has Kristofer �Harley� Harlson started on his non-stop circumnavigation in the 8-foot Sea Biscuit he was building when interviewed back in 2006?

Back To Top


High Seas Schooner — Voyage of the Harvey Gamage

(DVD produced by SEA-TV Productions www.sea-tvproductions.com; 95 minutes; $29.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

High Seas Schooner chronicles a three-week voyage from the Virgin Islands to Gloucester. With veteran crew and student navigators, the schooner Harvey Gamage brings maritime history to life. It is education with an edge.

Each passing day shows novices and seasoned crew developing confidence in each other. In the occasional brief interviews, the crew is eager to share their thoughts. However, the journal is not a travelogue of idyllic, fun-filled days. It portrays a classic wind-driven craft on a working voyage, with an emphasis on working.

Some of the most memorable scenes on this DVD are filled with muscle-straining teamwork. There are realistic conditions of pitching wet decks, and commands drowned out by flogging canvas. The infrequent moments of relaxation help balance hours of serious effort.

This superb work should become a classic. As documentary journalism, it is exceptional. As art, its composition, camera work, music, and voice-over blend naturally into a captivating tale. Narration by veteran sailor David Berson is concise and delivered well.

A special mention on the camera work. The Harvey Gamage�s sea-motion in heavy seas is so realistic that your stomach will feel the heavy schooner�s deck rise and drop as it beats to weather.

The music editing was also spot-on. Upbeat, enlivening at introduction and evocative at journey�s end, the score was understated and polished.

Two minor points: the audio was faint in two spots due to deteriorating weather, and a bit more narration would have explained sail handling as the boat plunged into wind and waves. Both are understandable considering the dramatic conditions.
Those same points strengthen the breathtaking realism and urgency of the crew�s response to a storm. Anticipation builds with miles logged, from the schooner slipping through the quiet beauty of the Caribbean to the cold whistling wind and slamming gear in the northern Atlantic.

High Seas Schooner is an honest glimpse at traditional passagemaking — the interplay between man and inexorable elements. An emotional and physical work of wild beauty and bold sailors, the video speaks loudly to all who celebrate kinship to the sea.

Concluding the journey in a quiet harbor with Berson�s reflections, the epic left me spellbound and thoughtful, wanting more. I would not have missed it for the world.

In this world of �two-thumbs-up� superlatives, a fitting tribute is difficult. Perhaps two thumbs and a smile … all turned up.

Back To Top


About! A Waterway Adventure

by Gillian Outerbridge
(Nautical Publishing Company, 2007; $21.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minn.

Lin and Larry Pardey describe Gillian Outerbridge�s photo-packed chronicle of her journey from New York through the waterways of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada as a heartwarming, well-written story that illustrates �simple but elegant truths: alone does not equal lonely, and adventure comes in all sizes.� If Lin and Larry like it, it must be OK.

Actually, it�s considerably better than OK. It�s darned good. Gillian Outerbridge did something few single grandmothers do. She set off on a 20-foot sloop to bring to life a dream she�d harbored for some 40 years. From her launching at Liberty Landing Marina, right across from Ground Zero in New York, Gillian describes her journey in an easy-to-read manner peppered with droll humor. Of Tucker, her canine companion and avid hunter, she says, �I had to accept that I was living with a serial killer.� Her whirlwind search for the Flicka she named Dart was �marine speed-dating,� while the waves she encountered along the way were �short, steep and peevish.�

Together, over a period of two summers, Gillian, Tucker, and Dart explored thousands of miles of lakes and locks, breakwaters and bridges, marinas and �Merci Madames.� Inland canals, Scottish dancing, hot-air balloon regattas — the days were filled with serenity and serendipity as Dart�s crew of two embraced each new opportunity. Perhaps the most wonderful part of the story is the joy this mature matron found in the cruising lifestyle and her fellow explorers. In a letter to her mother, the author wrote, �I am so happy, I live with a grin.� Quite a change of course for a woman whose catalyst to take to the water was a traumatic ordeal at her home back in Bermuda, where she�d struggled with an intruder holding a knife to her throat.

The somewhat nervous woman who held the helm at the beginning of the journey morphed into confident skipper as she traversed the Erie Canal, the Trent-Severn, Georgian Bay, and the Thousand Islands. She squeaked under bridges, progressed through lock after lock after lock, and weathered a passing hurricane.

With refreshing honesty, the author candidly describes her trepidation at the outset, the �conflagration of charred bridges� she left in her wake, and other assorted struggles. �I discovered,� she says, �that when an unexpected challenge arose, I was far too busy dealing with the circumstances to be afraid. I faced all the fears and concerns, the apprehension and qualms, and dealt with them. I just plowed on through them and emerged on the other side, stronger, braver, and ultimately proficient in survival skills.�

Back To Top


Cruising Has No Limits

a DVD produced by Lin and Larry Pardey
(http://landlpardey.com; 2008; 74 minutes; $22.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

It�s quite possible that no one else
has had a life quite so rich with
adventure and exploration as
Lin and Larry Pardey. These are
people who are absolutely comfortable
wherever they may be,
whether on land or at sea. This
is a good thing, because they�ve
been just about everywhere there
is to go on land and sea.

Over the years, the Pardeys
have been encouraging and
reminding the rest of us that our
own lives can be just as rich in
experience. For several decades
they�ve been telling us how to make our own remarkable
memories. With their newest video they show us why. This is a
magical movie full of beautiful cinematography and compelling
stories of the relationships they developed with the people they
met. If you don�t get up off the couch and get going after watching
Cruising Has No Limits, there�s probably no hope for you.

This 74-minute video is so well paced and the images are so
luscious that an hour and a quarter passes in a blur. I usually read
a book or watch a movie only once, but I will watch this DVD
again. I want to make sure I didn�t miss anything. It�s that good.

Lin and Larry share some of their greatest moments in a
lifetime of great moments. This presentation is filled with their
contagious attitude and philosophy of life. If you go somewhere
as a couple, rather than as part of a cruising crowd, as
they remind you, you will get to know the people and learn
about the culture. And if you�re not in a hurry, if you have no
set agenda, the most miraculous things will happen.

These sailors left Taleisin in the care of someone else for
seven months while they traveled thousands of miles in primitive
areas of Africa in a 4 x 4 truck. They camped with the
Kalahari Bushmen. They spent time in a sculptors� commune
in Zimbawe�s northern reaches. They traveled from water hole
to water hole in search of African wildlife. And they recorded
exquisite images of the people, the scenery, and the animals
they found there.

After leaving Africa, they stumbled upon and then spent the
next eight months among a group of Brazilians who had built
their own fleet of 29-foot sailboats and dreamed of sailing the
world. They were adopted by a group of Galway hooker sailors
in Ireland. This encounter led to their purchase and refit of
Thelma, a 100-year-old beauty who also shows up in this video
montage of the life and times of a cruising couple with no
boundaries and hearts as big as the world they explore.

This DVD will speak to anyone. You don�t have to be a sailor
to embrace these world travelers and to appreciate the life
they lead. Get a copy of Cruising Has No Limits. It�s simply
awesome and inspiring.

Back To Top


The Journals of Constant Waterman:
Paddling, Poling and Sailing for the Love of it

by Matthew Goldman
(Breakaway Books, Halcottsville, NY, 2007; 336 pages; $14.00)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moerno Valley, Calif.

Definition of a Constant Waterman: Someone who delights in
the greater portion of our Earth. A harmless monomaniac
with habitually wet feet.�
Matthew Goldman

Matthew Goldman is the Constant Waterman. The ninety
memoir-type tales included in this collection are proof � and
anyone who enjoys boating, sailing or just life on or around the
water will find this book an appealing read.

The �shorts� are reflective, and Matthew uses vivid descriptions
that �really take you there.� As you read, you�ll find
yourself slowly relaxing. Your senses will awaken and you�ll
find yourself feeling what the author is feeling, seeing all of the
surroundings he�s describing and
hearing all that he hears. Listen
— to the sound of wings flapping —
it�s birds — taking flight above your
head. Do you hear it?

The Journals of Constant Waterman
is a compilation of stories that
were originally published in Messing
About in Boats, Good Old Boat,
and
WindCheck. Enjoy them a chapter —
or a story — at a time.

The table of contents divides the
readings into three sections: Paddling,
Poling and Rowing; Sailing;
and A Word from the Waterfront.

Matthew shares stories about
the places he has been, boats he has owned and his multitude
of experiences on the water. He describes his own water
mishaps, fishing expeditions, special childhood vacation
memories and being hired at age 25 to help find the Loch Ness
Monster. Each story is unique. The passion of all his �water�
experiences is contagious — even if you aren�t a Constant
Waterman yourself.

Last, but certainly not least, the glossary on page 323 is an
especially useful feature. Whether you�re a landlubber or have
your sea legs, perusing this section will enlighten you, refresh
your memory, and even tickle your funny bone.

Definition of seasick: A malady attributable to spending
too long ashore.

The Journals of Constant WatermanM is simply a must read.

Back To Top


Onboard Weather Handbook

by Chris Tibbs
(International Marine, 2008; 156 pages; $18.95)
Review by Gregg Nestor
Middlefield, Ohio

Sitting in the cockpit of a
sailboat watching the changing
skies can be both a peaceful
pastime and a perplexing
one. What�s causing that cloud
formation? What does it mean?
What triggered that lateevening
storm? Combining his
more than 250,000 miles of sea
experience with his expertise
in meteorology and as a trained
forecaster, Chris Tibbs shows
you how to answer these questions
and many more.

In clear, unaffected prose, Chris patiently explains potentially
confusing meteorological facts and phenomena. He
begins with weather theory and looks at global circulation of
air, then concentrates on progressively smaller areas down
to micrometeorology. This is the small area where coastal
features are significant and sea breezes are likely.

It also includes the environment and circulation around
individual clouds. These are the conditions that we see and
in which we sail. As an example, with the passage of a warm
front/cold front combination, Chris clearly points out the
early indicators, as well as what to expect in the way of cloud
formations, precipitation, wind speed and direction, temperature,
and barometric pressure. He also demonstrates how to
interpret forecasts, conduct our own real-time observations,
and how to use this information to make accurate predictions
for our own sailing areas.

In addition to its easily read prose, Onboard Weather
Handbook
is magnificently illustrated with drawings, charts,
tables, and spectacular color photographs. As a plus, the
book is stuffed full of thought-provoking factoids and helpful
rules-of-thumb. These make for a truly handy onboard weather
reference book.

The most obvious uses for this book are in the planning
stages of a voyage, as well as when underway. However, for the
curious but not-so-meteorologically-inclined sailor who�s looking
for some insight into weather, Onboard Weather Handbook
is a great introduction.

The book was originally developed for the Royal Yachting
Association, one of the world�s foremost authorities on smallboat
seamanship. It has since been expanded and revised especially
for North American sailors and includes short descriptions
of weather likely to be found around the U. S. — East
Coast to West Coast and the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nowhere is weather of greater concern than when we�re on
the water. Onboard Weather Handbook is an essential guide
for the sailor who doesn�t just want to experience weather, but
desires to become more weather-wise. I consider it a mustread,
both for the novice sailor as well as the �old salt.�

Back To Top


They Had To Go Out: True Stories of America’s Coastal Lifesavers

by Wreck and Rescue Journal
(Avery Color Studios, 2007; 208 pages; $16.95)
Review by C. H. “Chas” Hague
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Des Plaines, Ill.

In 1995, a small group of historians, writers, and National Park
Service workers did two things: first, they founded the United
States Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, a group dedicated
to preserving the history of that Service; second, they
created Wreck and Rescue Journal, a quarterly publication to
keep alive the stories of the brave men who served in the Life-
Saving Service between 1880 and 1915.

As Frederick Stonehouse says in his introduction, the
USLSS defined courage — �If ever the old phrase �wooden
ships and iron men� applied, it was to them.� These crews
trained and prepared, then went out in rowboats — rugged,
near-unsinkable rowboats, but rowboats nonetheless � to
pluck sailors from their foundering ships and bring them safely
to shore. Their cynical motto: �Our Book says we have to go
out — it doesn�t say anything about coming back.�

This book is organized into sections titled, �The Lifesavers,�
�The Issues,� and �The Rescues,� but almost all the stories
included here describe the men of the Life-Saving Service
going out into incredible conditions of storm and sea to save
people endangered by shipwreck — and yes, not always coming
back. Men such as Joshua James, who saved 20 men during
the Portland Gale of 1898. At
age 75 he fell dead on the beach,
after drilling his men for hours
in gale-force winds.

Two of the stories describe
the rescues of George Plough,
keeper of the Harbor Beach
station on Lake Huron, and Miss
Ida Lewis, keeper of the Newport
Harbor lighthouse, who
saved over 30 people herself,
rowing out in her skiff to save
the last ones when she was 64
years old.

These stories go back to the
founding of the Massachusetts
Humane Society (the organization
that first built life-saving
stations on Cape Cod in 1785), all the way to the adventures of
Coast Guardsmen in the 1950s, such as the tale of Chief Boatswain�s
Mate McAdams and his cigar: �If the cigar was lit, you
could relax…if he takes it out, turns it around and sticks the
lit end in his mouth, you�re going to get wet.�

These 25 stories by 13 authors will give the reader a sense of
the bravery and fortitude of the Life Savers and Coast Guardsmen
who were — and still are — dedicated to rescuing those
in peril on the seas.

Read this book on a November night with a full gale howling
outside, and be grateful.

Back To Top


The Partnership, Voyage of Entr’acte

by Ellen and Ed Zacko
(Pumona Productions, 2008; 103 minutes; $29.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Step back in time to a day when sailboats were simpler and our own needs for cruising comfort were more in line with camping. Talented musicians Ed and Ellen Zacko met, dropped out of the New York symphonic rat race, finished out a sailboat hull, learned to sail, and set off cruising in 1981.

Then they told the story of their travels with a slide show that evolved into a multi-media production. (Remember the term? It meant having two or more projectors fading slides in and out. It was the end of the click, click, click presentation.)

The Zackos� narrated slide presentation was so popular they continued to show it as the years moved along and technology changed. That show, now available on DVD, while faded and dated, still entertains and informs. These days, it also offers a view backward in time.

Called The Partnership, Voyage of Entr�acte, Ed and Ellen�s presentation is a romance set to music as this couple travels through the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Azores, Portugal, Spain, the French canal system, the Mediterranean, the Canaries, West Indies, and home again four years later. All this was accomplished on the Nor�Sea 27 they built from a bare hull. (That part of the adventure took an additional three years.)

The best part of the story is that Ed and Ellen are still cruising, still meeting interesting people, and still stopping to smell every rose along the way. They had just left the Galapagos for the Marquesas as this review was written. And they�re still sailing the same Nor�Sea 27, Entr�acte. Encore, Ed and Ellen!

The DVD is available from Pomona Productions, 2312 Maplewood Dr., Culpeper, VA 22701, or from their website at http://www.enezacko.com.

Back To Top


Endless Sea

by Amyr Klink
(Sheridan House, 2008; 272 pages; $19.95)
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Texas

Isn�t it funny how good moods are so often the product of what we perceive internally when we accomplish simple objectives, not of what we actually see outside? Can this be true even when it�s freezing, a huge mountain of ice is floating off your bow, and 50-foot waves are hitting your boat from all sides?

Endless Sea by Brazilian sailor, author, and businessman Amyr Klink, tells the story of Amyr�s 1998-99 singlehanded circumnavigation of Antarctica. For five months and 18,000 miles, Amyr sailed below the Antarctic convergence in Paratii — the 50-foot aluminum boat he called his �big red truck� — dodging icebergs, weathering freezing storms, and enduring the worst the South Sea could throw at him.

As Amyr takes us along on this cold and lonely expedition, he shares with us his views on topics ranging from weather to geological formations to renaming places and streets after dead men. Such discourses, though not an integral part of the story, flow into it with such smoothness and offer such insight into his psyche that the book would be much less without them. In addition, the book includes many facts and interesting trivia about the early Antarctic explorers, great and small. This adds real depth to the book.

One of the most intriguing aspects in the book was Paratti�s Aerorig mast, an unstayed 80-foot carbon-fiber, 360-degree rotating mast in the shape of an inverted cross, supported only at the deck and keel. The 42-foot-single-piece boom is pierced by the mast — off-center, extending about 17 feet fore and 25 feet aft of the mast — and is raised 7 feet off the deck. This unique rig eliminated nearly all the lines and hardware normally cluttering up the deck of a sailboat, reducing them to one single controlling mainsheet. In Amyr�s words, �miles of lines and almost a ton of complicated hardware that had once cluttered the deck were now gone.�

Amyr spent �months of sea trials chasing squalls, making abrupt maneuvers, over-canvassing, and stressing the mast as much as possible.� He tells us that �While the twins [his toddler daughters] drank from their baby bottles on the same deck that had once been covered with a mess of lines, I made full circles under full sail, with never more than three or four fingers lightly touching the helm.� The Aerorig impressively surpassed these accomplishments during Amyr�s 18,000-mile circumnavigation.

Other than the 46-page land log — written by Amyr�s wife Marina — which I thought rather dull, as log books typically are, I found this book interesting. Just watch out for the icebergs!

Back To Top


The Mariner’s Books of Days — 2009

by Peter H. Spectre
(Sheridan House, 2008; 56 pages; $14.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wisc.

If you need an appointment book to organize your life, and who doesn�t, The Mariner�s Book of Days — 2009 is worth looking at. If you�re a maritime aficionado, and since you�re reading this in Good Old Boat you more than likely are, it�s worth having. If you love nautical lore, facts and figures, historical anecdotes, etc.,it�s practically indispensable. But if you�re all of the above and, like me, can�t wait to dazzle your friends (or bore them to tears) with your Cliff Claven-esque gift of �little known facts,� you�ll find this book as necessary to your life as a lawyer is to a politician.

The book is laid out week by week, Monday through Sunday, as most datebooks are. When opened, the left-hand pages contain passages from a variety of authors and literary works, plus excerpts from the logs of ships, yachts, or fishing vessels, dating from the 18th through the 20th centuries. There are also reproductions of line drawings, most of which depict nautical scenes. Certain pages have a definite theme. For example, the week of October 12 contains several facts related to Herman Melville.

At the top of the right-hand page there is a short passage from a book or poem, then below that a space to note each day�s appointments. In addition, there is a historical event noted for each particular day. We learn that on October 18, 1851, Moby Dick was first published, which is why the left-hand page for that week is devoted to Melville.

If there is anything negative about this book it�s that it is simply too pretty to clutter with personal scribbling, especially if your handwriting looks like mine. But that aside, The Mariner�s Book of Days — 2009 is a wonderful way to keep your life organized while giving you an arsenal of worthwhile information to keep life interesting. It would also make a great gift for someone interested in things poetic, nautical, or both.

Back To Top


Alone Against the Artic

by Anthony Dalton
(Heritage House Publishing Ltd., 2007; 188 pages; $17.95)
Review by Milo Feinberg
New York, N.Y.

One man, one boat, lots of ice, and lots of chutzpah. Alone Against the Arctic is the tale of Anthony Dalton�s 1984 attempt to make a solo transit of the Northwest Passage in a small inflatable.

Although Dalton never succeeds in even reaching the passage, he does discover the unforgiving nature of northern waters and the cold justice of the Arctic. He expertly infuses his own story with accounts of other Arctic explorers and earlier expeditions that traversed the same landscape. The book includes photographs of these earlier expeditions alongside pictures of his journey. Dalton writes a compelling page-turning story and describes his difficulties and his mindset in great detail. He gives the reader an acute sense of how he copes with his frustration, his indecision, and his mistakes.

Dalton encounters many difficulties — a capsize early on, uncooperative weather conditions, and the closing of a small window of opportunity (open water exists only for a brief period of time — or at least it used to!) to complete his journey. He ends up stuck at a small outpost waiting for fuel, and his descriptions convey the bleakness and remoteness of small communities such as Nome and Point Hope.

Dalton�s voyage would be easier for the reader to track if he had included more detailed maps. Although he accurately tells the reader about his course, and the landmarks, it is frustrating not to be able to look at maps that show exactly how he is progressing; too much is left to the readers� imagination. The book designer�s or publisher�s decision to make the photographs tiny is also unfortunate.

The writing style sometimes breaks into flowery prose that is perhaps not ideally suited to an adventure story. But they are infrequent enough that the reader is able to steer clear of them and continue along the path of an engaging narrative.

If you like adventures along the lines of Shackleton�s attempt to cross Antarctica, you will find this story entertaining. Although Dalton�s expedition is limited in scope — one man in one small motorboat — he is up against some rather formidable and unfavorable circumstances and lives to tell his tale.

Back To Top


A Sound Like Thunder

by Sonny Brewer
(Ballantine Books, 2006; 269 pages; 23.95)
Review by Jeff Carlton
Birmingham, Ala.

Have you ever wanted to leave everything and just sail away? Not for fun or adventure but for life and survival? What if you had a sailboat ready to go, money, no ties, and the love of a beautiful young woman? This is what Rove MacNee, the main character in Sonny Brewer�s A Sound Like Thunder was facing.

The story opens with Rove standing on a dock looking out on Mobile Bay. Distant lighting flashed in his eyes.

To the southwest, somewhere between Dauphin Island and New Orleans, was his father, Captain Dominus MacNee. Controlled by drink, lust, and rage, he would soon dock and bring home his usual mayhem. He could take his time as far as his son was concerned.

Behind the dock and up the hill was the Magnolia Bay house. Within its walls was Rove�s mother, Lilian. Who knew where her loneliness would take her?

In the young man�s chest was a heart that was about to come off its mounts because of Miss Anna Pearl Anderson and her not-so-subtle affection. Besides being the prettiest girl around, she had a love for sailing.

Beyond the dock and up the bay was Fly Creek and his very own 25-ft. wooden sloop. He had spent two years refurbishing this gift and was now ready for the final touches. When he sighted down the deck and beyond the bowsprit, his despair lifted.

The boy�s hands held his dripping mullet net. He couldn`t control his world but he could toss that net. The lightening was getting closer. The thunder was in his ears.

And in Rove�s mind he heard Joshua Slocum telling all young men contemplating a sea voyage to go. More and more, his response was, �Why not?�

Many of you would enjoy this book. There is hull repair while moored, cast net instructions, and a shakedown cruise. Anyone alive will remember that first kiss. Set in the mid-�40s, Brewer captures the unrest of a nation on the brink of war. This is a story about a family coming apart. This is a tale of hope borne by the waves and driven before the wind. Hope indeed floats.

I have read Slocum, Melville, Jones, and London, each once. I have read A Sound Like Thunder three times. Maybe it is the fact that, some years back, my life flew apart, causing me to want to sail away. Like Rove, there was peace for me on the water.

I found this book by accident. Nothing about the title will naturally attract a sailor. It made me wonder if something like �The Captain�s Son� would have gathered more nautical attention. But I realized that A Sound Like Thunder is the only title for this book. Any son of a captain is bound to develop a weather eye. Rove MacNee heard both the freezing north�er in his mother and the fevered hurricane in his father. If there is such a thing as a weather ear, this young man had it.

Back To Top


Boat Green: 50 Steps Boaters Can Take to Save Our Waters

by Clyde E. Ford
(New Society Publishers, 2008; 224 pages; $16.95 U.S.; $19.95 Can)
Review by James Williams
Mountain View, Calif.

This is not a relaxing afternoon read, nor will you want to read it cover to cover. But you�ll find some chapters informative and you may end up more aware of your impact on the maritime environment.

Years of concern over maritime pollution inspired Clyde Ford to write Boat Green. He appropriated his maritime environmental awareness model from ecologist Garret Hardin�s indispensable 1968 essay, �The Tragedy of the Commons�. Like Hardin, Ford sees our environment being jeopardized by short-term selfish interests versus long-term group interests — the common good.

In five sections and 50 very short chapters, Boat Green aims to meld environmentalism and boating, to encourage boaters to become �boat green� and operate their vessels in such a way as to protect the maritime environment. Section one sets the stage, discussing eutrophication, the process whereby soil erosion and runoff from fertilizer and sewage add excess nutrients to water and stimulate excessive algae and other plant growth that saps the oxygen from water and creates dead zones. Ford cites the 2003 Pew Ocean�s Commission report, which delineates the 36 dead zones within U.S. coastal waterways, and the world�s other very highly impacted regions, such as the eastern Caribbean, which suffers greatly from boaters dumping their waste directly overboard. The highlight of this section is Ford�s brief discussion of Hardin�s essay and of folksinger Pete Seeger�s building of the S/V Clearwater in 1966, which inspired both the cleanup of the Hudson River and enactment of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Sections two and three address vessel operation and maintenance.and The chapters comprise very familiar ideas for Good Old Boat readers. Ford is informative about biodiesel use and storage, is cautionary about ethanol use, and introduces direct fuel injection outboards, electric outboards, and diesel electric inboards. His coverage of electrical systems — solar power, wind generators, and batteries — and his chapters on gray water, recycling, using the marine head, keeping your engine tuned, and not spilling during oil changes are rather basic. I found useful his chapter on polymer bilge socks and oil-eating bacteria for keeping your bilge clean and his chapter on E-paint as a substitute for copper bottom paints, but almost all of these topics find better coverage in other books and articles.

In his last sections, Ford addresses pets aboard, marine wildlife, and protecting the ocean bottom (anchoring). He suggests boaters �leave no wake behind,� which reminds me of the popular myth that Native Americans never really impacted the environment because they �walked softly across the earth.� It�s an important idea, but perhaps a bit romantic. More practically, Ford gives readers a way to calculate their carbon footprint, figuring carbon credits, and buying them. Finally, he offers ideas for community involvement: creating an environmental committee at your yacht club, hosting a boat green event, adopting a nearby waterway, working with local marinas, and so forth.

Boat Green is a useful but not a very polished book. Nevertheless, Ford is to be commended for his advocacy for the marine environment we all rely upon and enjoy.

Back To Top


Sloop: Restoring My Family’s Wooden Sailboat —
An Adventure in Old-Fashioned Values

by Daniel Robb
(Simon and Schuster, 2008; 336 pages; $25.00)
Review by C. H. “Chas” Hague
Des Plaines, Ill.

Daniel Robb is a carpenter, actor, teacher, an expert on the Transcendentalists, a sailor, and shipwright. He is also a wonderfully skilled writer, all of which makes his book, Sloop, a great read.

Daphie is a Herreshoff 12-½, built in 1939, which had been sailed by generations of Robbs in Buzzard�s Bay off Cape Cod. He came across her, sitting abandoned on a trailer in his cousin�s yard. Needing something to write about, he towed her back to his place and spent 16 months restoring her — removing the bottommost planks, replacing the frames, refastening, scarfing out the transom, painting, varnishing the spars, and finally sailing her around the islands that stretch southwest from Woods Hole.

This is not a how-to-do-it book, but one will learn a lot about restoring a 60-year-old wooden boat. Rather, the restoration is how Robb tells the story of his family and the people who live on the heel end of Cape Cod. He does not just use a screwdriver to reassemble the bronze fittings on the sail — he uses his grandfather�s old wooden-handled screwdriver. (As a man with a basement full of tools from four male antecedents, I understand.) He doesn�t tell us what brands of Dacron or epoxy he used to replace the canvas on his foredeck, but we learn about Art Burgess and Dave Ash, men who have been building and restoring wooden boats for 50 years and told Robb how to go about it. He describes the steam box he built to make his new frames flexible, but that�s not as interesting as the discussions with the locals describing all the different kinds of boxes they have built. There�s the lady at the church thrift store who will not sell him a teapot to use as a steam generator, and the counter at the chandlery in New Bedford, where a simple question about copper rivets becomes a boatbuilder�s support group meeting.

This memoir could have been clumsy, but in Robb�s hands it is not. It is as smooth as the water of Hadley�s Harbor — a funny, interesting, and educational book.

Back To Top


Weather Wise, Reading Weather Signs

by Alan Watts
(Sheridan House, 2008; 156 pages; $22.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

Weather Wise, Reading Weather Signs, by Alan Watts
(Sheridan House, 2008; 156 pages; $22.95)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, N.Y.

This concise book generously explains the background of weather in a surprisingly compact format. Although not specifically aimed at boating, its coverage is more than adequate for those who venture out of safe harbors. And it�s delightfully all-encompassing. The reader can quickly find the immediate information sought, as well as discover little gems of related issues to be pondered later.

A difference between this book and other weather references is the coverage of climatological influences that impact what is conventionally thought of as meteorology. Seasonal, as well as daily (diurnal), variations in weather patterns are sometimes not well understood but are especially relevant to sailors.

Additionally, Weather Wise explores the �why� behind our dynamic world. It fosters a better understanding of this delicate interconnection of land, water, moon, wind, and rain. Our need to prepare, to fit our boat smoothly into the equation, becomes very clear.

Within the covers, the reader finds a cohesive approach to an important part of boating enjoyment, rather than a book of stated facts. It builds an interrelated holistic understanding of our world, rather than a sterile catalog of weather indicators.

As a bonus, Weather Wise is interesting to read. Not a book for the esoteric scientist (although I�d bet most would find something new inside) but, instead, it�s written in easily understood everyday language. The book strikes just the right balance in detail and description.

When darkening skies, shifting winds, or a dropping barometer bring that tickle of anxiety, you will find this book comforting. It is an effective remedy for dispelling a queasy uncertainty about the unknown.

It�s an amazing omnibus that is somehow pleasantly developed in a book easily fitting into your essential reference shelf, and less than a fourth the physical size and weight of Bowditch. In fact, I prefer this book to the familiar classics when weather questions come up.

Your VHF and SSB weather radios now can have a worthy partner that will prove invaluable — Alan Watt�s Weather Wise. I recommend setting course to your favorite book source and rewarding your boat�s library with a copy. Once read, you will not want to leave shore without it.

Back To Top


Sailing the Pink Sea

by Debbie Huntsman
(AppleStar Publishing, 2008; 250 pages; $12.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minn.

Monday through Friday, each treatment passes like shimmering rollers across open water, indistinguishable, one wave in a sea of sameness…My body does not rebel nor does it rebound. I float in a windless sea.

Sailor Debbie Huntsman�s book, Sailing the Pink Sea, is a compilation of her cancer-year journals. �Not a journalist, nor a writer, just an ordinary woman who, when faced with an unwelcome look at my own mortality, was compelled to record my thoughts.� Perhaps it was mortality that inspired her, for she has produced a well-written book that beams a light on the private life of a cancer patient. From radiation to chemo, from vomiting to doctor visit after doctor visit, Debbie chronicles the day-to-day life of a person who knows cancer lives within her. The sailing imagery interwoven throughout her year of aggressive treatment is poignant; the reader yearns along with the author to be sailing carefree beneath wind-filled sails.

As Debbie charted her course through �the Pink Sea of breast cancer� she wrote nearly daily, much as she might have written in a ship�s log. �And it naturally happened,� she says, �that my love for sailing and the water became woven into the story.�

Debbie doesn�t sugarcoat reality; she crafts vivid pictures of it. She frankly details her struggles with the treatment process and the effect her cancer wreaked on her emotions and her relationships. Amid the horrors of breast cancer, she longs to be aboard Bliss, her Santana 23 tall-rig sailing sloop. Debbie�s words invite the reader to share her saga, to ghost along on her voyage between hope and despair, between what is and what will be. Her persistent attempts to maintain a positive attitude proved a healthy adversary for the fear. The cancerous invasion and side effects of treatment, for instance, didn�t keep Debbie from her regular routine of swimming several days each week. �Like a tiny boat in a storm, we can stay afloat in an unbelievable froth,� she says. Huntsman�s last treatment was like stepping ashore after a long journey.

She tells us that �One of the things having cancer taught me is the moment…This singular moment and what I choose to do with it will eventually add up to be the sum of my life.�

Back To Top


Ken�s Cruising Yacht

by Ken Hellewell
(Cevennes Productions, 2008; 125 pages; $19.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
Antigo, Wis.

Those of us who dabble in boats, especially sailboats it seems, have entertained the idea of a circumnavigation at one time or another. We dream of exotic ports, days spent basking on the beach of some tropical paradise, nights under sail beneath a blanket of stars so plentiful that familiar constellations are camouflaged, and meeting others who think like we do. Unfortunately, or fortunately for many of us, we�ll probably never realize this. But it�s still fun to dream and learn about what we could do to our boats to prepare them for this ultimate fantasy. One who had the will and determination to fulfill his dream is Ken Hellewell and in Ken�s Cruising Yacht he�s given the rest of us a guide to help us to that end, should we decide to pursue it.

From the outset, Ken tells us that this is his opinion, based on what he experienced over the course of a five-year circumnavigation that began in Seattle in 1999. �The suggestions in this book are mine and mine alone…There is no single answer…I look at it as a printed version of what I would tell you if you walked up to me in a marina and asked for my advice.� He restates this several times throughout the text. Much of what he says makes simple common sense. For example, one section is titled �Being Average is Best.� Think about that statement. All our lives we�re told that being average is boring, but in the case of a circumnavigation, or cruising in general for that matter, we would �benefit by choosing boats and equipment that the majority of sailors have used and proven sound.� Makes sense to me. He also acknowledges that many people will disagree with some of his advice. This is the first book I�ve read that recommends rod instead of wire for standing rigging. �The rod on Topaz, Ken�s C&C 38, has already lasted 20 years.� You have a hard time arguing with success.

At 125 pages, this is easy to read and, although it�s not an exhaustive treatise on outfitting a boat for several years of hard use, there is enough useful information here to at least get started. Ken�s Cruising Yacht is a practical, no-nonsense guide from someone who has been there, done that, and is willing to share his thoughts and ideas with those of us who would like to, and maybe, someday, just might.

Back To Top


Seven Seas Potluck Favorites, A Cookbook by Cruisers for Cruisers

by Seven Seas Cruising Association, Inc.
compiled and edited by Barbara Theisen
(Sailaway Publications, 2007; 118 pages; $14.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.

Whether you are a liveaboard or weekend boater, the recipes in the Seven Seas Potluck Favorites will definitely float your boat. This compact, easy-to-store-onboard spiral-bound cookbook is packed with almost 150 recipes, all of which were contributed by Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) members. Cruisers worldwide are known for their love of potlucks.

You�ll want to �dive� right in and begin cooking, but don�t forget to review your weights and measures on page 10, as the recipes are internationally created and all measurements are not equal.

Ready to start cooking? Most of these scrumptious recipes are great for preparing in your home kitchen � no need to wait until you�re onboard. Check out these breakfast choices: Banana Pancakes, Stonecutter�s Lobster Neptune and Easy Coconut Pecan Rolls, or these appetizers: Caribbean Curried Sweet Potato Pate, Artichoke Dip, Black Bean & Salmon Spread, Italian Inspiration, and Kittiwake�s Floating Tostado and Onion Marmalade.

Next you�ll want to check out the beverages, salads, side dishes, breads, and main dishes. Start out with a refreshing pitcher of Calaloo�s Sangria. Then match up the Green Mango Salad from Madagascar and the Texas Beans with the Green Chicken Enchiladas and you�ll have a tasty, nutritious combination. Top it off with Caribbean Rum Cake or Better Than Sex Fudgy Bonbons — and you may decide you need a copy of the Seven Seas Potluck Favorites in your galley and your kitchen.

�The Potluck Carrier� chapter is an added bonus. Turn to page 8 and you will find a pattern and easy-to-follow directions for sewing a cloth wrap carrier, complete with dowel handles, for easy transporting of your �potluck� meal. Your dish will stay piping hot too.

Seven Seas Cruising Association is the oldest and largest non-profit organization of voyaging cruisers in the world, with nearly 10,000 members. These members share the dream of sailing the seas as a lifestyle. One of their goals is to share cruising information. Their cookbook does just that — and very tastefully, as well.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2007

Reviews From 2007

February 2007 Newsletter

April 2007 Newsletter

June 2007 Newsletter

August 2007 Newsletter

October 2007 Newsletter

December 2007 Newsletter


Twenty Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere

by Gregg Nestor (Paradise Cay Publications, 2006; 210 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

If you’re shopping for an affordable sailboat that you can own for years to come, Gregg Nestor has just done you a big favor. He has written the book you’re looking for: Twenty Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. Sound familiar? It might because this book follows John Vigor’s very popular book: Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. Both books have been published by Paradise Cay Publications.

Gregg, who writes many of the boat reviews for Good Old Boat magazine, was a natural author for this book. On behalf of the magazine, he has a great deal of experience crawling in and out of cubbyholes on many sailboats. He is as unbiased as any sailor can be about something as opinion-provoking as a cruising sailboat. His selection of 20 boats is as good as it gets. There are many more great boats, to be sure. Perhaps those will be the subject of the next book. I can see it now: Twenty More Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. If this book flies off the shelf, who knows what might follow? If your personal favorites were overlooked in the first 20, get your vote in early!

As he does with his reviews for Good Old Boat, Gregg researches the boat designer and the manufacturer and gives his readers not only the highlights of the boat but also the highlights of its birth back in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. This is, by the way, how one finds an affordable boat: one reaches back into a previous era and finds a gem that has already stood the test of time. Call it a classic fiberglass yacht. Call it a good old boat. Whatever you call it, this boat is part of the affordable dream. Want to go sailing? Gregg Nestor will help you find the boat to make your dream come true.

The information Gregg provides on a boat’s historical background is always fascinating for those of us who were not following the life and times of our boats’ designers and manufacturers as they unfolded the first time. Now, as lovers of our own sailboats, we want to know more about their parentage and what factors influenced their design. Gregg gives us this important background.

Naturally, the majority of effort for each boat is spent on a review of its design and sailing characteristics. But Gregg goes beyond all that with insightful comments by an owner or two, a note about what you might expect to pay for a boat of this kind today, specific weaknesses to check out if you’ve already fallen in love with a particular boat, specifications for the boat, sailplan and accommodation plan drawings, owners’ groups that will help you find others who sail and love boats like this, and the important comparative calculations that matter.

Speaking of these comparative calculations, Gregg takes a page to explain each. This is a question that comes up time and time again in the world of boat reviews. And he offers a spreadsheet comparing the 20 boats he’s selected: specifications and calculations. There’s a helpful bibliography also.

Gregg has created a useful, thorough, and helpful book if you’re in the market for an affordable sailboat capable of taking you coastal hopping or well beyond your home waters. You’ll find this book to be interesting reading even if you’re not currently prowling the dockyards and marinas for your next boat.

Back To Top


Life was a Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, a Boat, and a Big-A** Ocean

by Becky Coffield (Moonlight Mesa Associates, distributed by Seaworthy Publications, 2006; 148 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Either Becky Coffield has a very good memory or she took excellent notes back in the 1970s when she and her husband, Tom, spent six years cruising north and south, from Oregon to Alaska and on down to Mexico, then east and west across to the South Pacific and home once more. As they went along, they learned much about themselves, their relationship, their boat, cruising, and life in general. In retrospect, they say they were fortunate enough “to stay afloat during 25,000 miles of adventure and fun.”

Retrospect is the key here. Because she did not write the book until decades later, Becky is able to look at these events with a perspective not usually available to the writer who makes the trip, writes the book, and moves on to other matters. By then, I would worry that the details would be missing, but Becky has forgotten little. In fact, the stories may even have grown in the retelling over the years. Old stories have a way of doing that. Occasionally it takes the addition of several decades to see the humor in a situation. Certainly Becky’s memory has a penchant for comedy.

Becky tells her readers that she and Tom first dreamed of this voyage over a pitcher of margaritas while on their honeymoon. After practicing a short time, they thought they’d become fairly skilled with a Lido 14 and began thinking big. They heard of a man who, disenchanted with sailing, had stepped off the boat and sold his Ericson 32 for $6,000 to the first taker. As a young couple, Becky and Tom became hopeful that they could find a similar disenchanted sailor. Why not?

It didn’t happen exactly that way, of course. The boat that became Cabaret, their cruising sailboat, was a 34-foot Cal 2-34. She won their hearts and most of their paychecks for several years until they quit their teaching jobs in Oregon and headed north. The book describes their search for jobs in Alaska, living aboard through two winters while completing their boat payments, and then taking off for the South Pacific, via the Baja. As they think back, Alaska wins as their favorite cruising ground.

Much of the book describes their voyage in terms of places they went, people they met, and their personal growth as the years went by and they gained experience and confidence. Many sailors who are considering an extended cruise would benefit from the insights they gained. Many sailors who have been out there cruising would enjoy the enthusiasm with which this couple attacked life and the humor with which they learned its lessons. Becky has won several awards for Life was a Cabaret. You can find it in your local bookstore. Take a look inside and see if this cruising account is right for you.

Back To Top


The Figurehead

by Paul Dean Coker (Coastwise Communications, 2006; 476 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

With The Figurehead, released in September 2006, Paul “Dean” Coker has created the first of a series he calls the Carter Phillips Sailing Adventures.

With this introduction to his sailor and architect protagonist, Dean creates a cast of characters who Carter meets when he settles in Marblehead, Mass., to commission his sailboat. Before long, Carter is helping with the construction of a wooden schooner and involved on the fringes of a group of Irish Americans who are working to support the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Before his boat is launched, Carter has formed some lasting friendships, been practically adopted by a family, and fallen in love…all of which make it difficult to leave Marblehead as the spring ripens into summer.

Because the Northern Ireland situation is hotly contested by several groups, there is mystery and intrigue along with a couple of surprises for the unsuspecting reader. And there is an interesting look at the tsunami of 2004 as it affected the Maldive Islands off the southern tip of India. (To find out how that was worked into the plot of a novel set in Massachusetts, you have to read the book.) There are spies and counterspies, all monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies.

Because this is a Carter Phillips Sailing Adventure, there is also some excitement at sea when things go from bad to worse during some rough weather. As I was expecting a sailing adventure, I would have liked for Carter to spend more time at sea and less time trying to understand the locals.

Dean Coker has an active imagination and a good writing style. At times he’s positively inspired. But this book suffers from the lack of concise editing and spends too much time setting the scene before the action heats up halfway into the book.

The Irish/Massachusetts dialect is well represented in this book, but it becomes a distraction when, in order to follow the story, the reader must translate pages of dialogue between characters with strong brogues back into English.

Nevertheless, The Figurehead introduces a likeable character in Carter Phillips and is a reasonable attempt for a first novel.

Back To Top


So Long, Foxtrot Charlie

by John Vigor, audiobook narrated by Theresa Meis (produced by Good Old Boat, 2006; 2 hours; $15.00/download, $19.95/MP3 CD/$24.00/audio CD)
Reviewed by Morgan Doyle, age 12, St. Paul, Minn.

Be sure to fully charge your portable CD player before you start listening to So Long, Foxtrot Charlie. I wanted to keep listening to this audio CD, but my iPod battery ran out. I had to wait for my dad to charge it before I could get back to this story!

So Long, Foxtrot Charlie was written by John Vigor and narrated by Theresa Meis. This audio CD has an introduction spoken by John Vigor himself! So Long, Foxtrot Charlie is one of the stories John Vigor wrote for children. Sally Steals an Elephant and Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer are two other stories for kids by this talented author.

In So Long, Foxtrot Charlie, Foxtrot Charlie faces many dangers and gets into a lot of trouble with his constant question, “How does it work?” This is an adventurous tale of three very normal kids who face starvation and come out on top. Foxtrot Charlie gets stuck in a dishwasher, makes a cannon, and shreds the sports section of the newspaper. He also finally makes friends with Sara, who had disliked him from the start, when they get stranded on an island with Owl and Sara’s dad, who has a broken leg that needs medical attention.

This audio CD is perfect for most elementary and middle school students. Since there are both boy and girl characters, this is great for boys and girls. If any of your kids read Swallows and Amazons, this CD is in the same genre. I can’t wait for my dad to charge the iPod so I can listen to Sally Steals an Elephant.

Back To Top


Capt’n Pauley’s Boat Repairs and Upgrades

by Paul Esterle (Capt’n Pauley Productions, 2006; 261 pages; $28.95 USD)
Reviewed by Dave Aultfather, Sarasota, Fla.

Capt’n Pauley’s Boat Repairs and Upgrades is a collection of 78 short how-to articles written by Paul Esterle that were first published in Nor’easter Magazine. Most articles are about three pages in length, including drawings and photos. They are clearly written and the excellent illustrations and photos make them easy to understand. This makes Capt’n Pauley’s Boat Repairs and Upgrades an ideal coffee table book for casual reading and daydreaming because one can pick it up and read an interesting article from start to finish in just a few minutes. However, because the articles are well indexed and contain valuable information for anyone contemplating a project or repair, it can serve equally well as a reference.

This delightful book is the product of Paul Esterle’s considerable experience and his special ability to share that experience with the reader. He states in his introduction that he has done most of the projects and processes he describes in the book. His personal experience is quite evident in his detailed explanations and sage advice. Despite his extensive knowledge and firsthand experience, he does not come off as a know-it-all. His conversational tone is easy to read and, after you have read a few of the articles, you will appreciate the way he can explain complicated ideas in simple terms we can all understand, without sacrificing clarity and accuracy.

Because the book is a collection of articles, it is quite different from most other books about boat repairs and improvements. For example, Don Casey’s book, This Old Boat, chronicles a complete restoration of a single boat from start to finish while Dan Spurr and Bruce Bingham’s classic, Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat, shows examples of improvements for offshore sailing. By contrast, Capt’n Pauley’s Boat Repairs and Upgrades covers a wider, more eclectic, variety of boating-related topics and projects than most others and it appears that it was written for two types of readers. The first is the boatowner who wants to read about many kinds of repairs and upgrades for the sake of increasing general understanding or to consider projects that he or she may someday want to do. The second is the boatowner who wants a reference book that can provide a concise overview of what is involved in making a specific repair or upgrade. Readers in this second group may use the book as a starting point and then may seek additional detailed information from other sources. Readers from both groups will find the book worthwhile and enjoyable.

Back To Top


Bookends

by Good Old Boat magazine, audiobook narrated by Karen Larson (produced by Good Old Boat, 2006; 5.9 hours; $20.00/download, $24.95/MP3 CD/$32.00/audio CD)
Reviewed by Gordon Thompson, Aloha, Ore.

Bookends is a collection of stories from two editorial columns, “The View From Here” and “The Last Tack,” which appear in Good Old Boat magazine. I usually pay little attention to editorial columns, preferring to go right to the meat of why I buy the magazine in the first place. I’ve been missing a lot, as these columns make good listening entertainment. The columns are narrated by Karen Larson who, along with her husband, Jerry Powlas, and an occasional guest writer, alternates writing them. Karen is easy to listen to; she speaks well and in terms you can understand

Many books about sailing have you thrashing around some cape in gale-force winds, and they often spend too much time on the misery that can be encountered when sailing offshore. In Bookends, you are most likely to be doing what all of us really do: swinging on the hook, surveying your surroundings, or doing the mundane tasks that keep our craft afloat.

While I found most of the articles very entertaining, a couple of the articles rambled on and lost my interest. Some of the articles are humorous, like the wildlife sightings and the comparison of docking the boat with driving the tow vehicle. Thankfully, only one column was politically oriented. The articles are short, so if you don’t like what you are listening to, just wait.

My only suggestion is that the index include the subject. As it is now, if I want to re-visit an article, I need to remember what date it appeared in the magazine, rather than simply looking for the subject.

One of my favorite columns is a guest editorial done by Don Casey. Don, while philosophizing about what makes a good old boat, advises buying a boat you can afford, lavishing her with the best in essential equipment, and casting off your lines.

To that I say, “Amen!”

Back To Top


Sailing Alone Around the World

by Joshua Slocum, audiobook narrated by Jerry Stearns with an introduction by John Vigor (produced by Good Old Boat; 6.8 hours; $15.00/download, $19.95/MP3 CD, $24.00/audio CD)
Reviewed by Mark and Diana Doyle (authors of Managing the Waterway), St. Paul, Minn.

Mark: I finally made it and I’m glad I did! I’ve tried to read this book a couple of times before and never got through it. For some reason it just never caught and I’d end up putting it aside. I believe everyone should read—or listen to— Slocum’s account of circumnavigating the world. Not only was it the first singlehanded circumnavigation, but he did it at a time when it was believed to be impossible. There was no Panama or Suez Canal and sailboats simply weren’t sailed with a crew of one back in 1895.

Diana: I’m not an audiobook person: I like to read the written word. But that being said, I have to admit I’ve never taken the time to read Slocum’s classic book. So if you’ve never experienced Sailing Alone Around the World, you should, so get the audiobook instead of procrastinating any longer!

Mark: Slocum is an excellent storyteller, with simple factual writing and a modest tone. And with Slocum’s lean and compelling prose, it’s a perfect book for audio. Jerry Stearns’ clean and straightforward reading is a natural complement to Slocum’s literary tone.

Diana: Any cruiser can easily relate to Slocum’s story, even if you have no intention of circumnavigating. So many of his experiences are part of the culture of contemporary coastal cruising: the hospitality of new acquaintances, the camaraderie among other sailors out on the water, the logistics of provisions and boat repairs, and the lifelike affection for one’s vessel. It was fascinating to hear his perspective on these emotions and events of life on Spray.

Mark: It’s also easy to relate to (and admire) this modest character. Here’s a man who lived his life as a sea captain but has his “heart in his mouth” the first time he brings Spray into port alone. All the old fishermen run down to the wharf hoping for the thrill of a calamity, but Slocum docks her so lightly “she would not have broken an egg.” You cheer for his success while he admits that if he says a word he’ll betray his shaking voice and nervous shortness of breath!

Diana: The quiet seafaring captain from Nova Scotia was prescient in many ways. I chuckled when he said the local ladies were so curious about the technical aspects of solo circumnavigating that he predicted there would be “sailing mistresses.” It took 80 years, but in 1979 Naomi James became the first woman to solo-circumnavigate via Cape Horn.

Mark: Slocum was also right on the money (pun intended) about the endless trap of new navigation gadgets! He laments about the “newfangled notions of navigation” — that a mariner must have a chronometer. “Fifteen dollars!” he says. Nothing has changed in the world of navigation: instead of chronometers, now it’s that large-screen color chartplotter!

Mark and Diana: In all, two earbuds up!

Back To Top


Sailing Away from Winter

by Silver Donald Cameron (Douglas Gibson books, 2006; 376 pages; $25.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

It’s great fun to go cruising with Silver Donald Cameron. Through his books we’ve traveled with him several times, and each time has been a pleasure. Don’s tales of his voyages introduce his readers to people he meets, places he visits, and events along the way. He tells us about their background and, through these historical glimpses, what they’ve become today. Don makes strangers and strange places meaningful to us. With the latest book, Sailing Away from Winter, readers will also develop a fondness for Don; his wife, Marjorie; and Leo, their aging wonder whippet and boat dog, also known as the BFD (brave and faithful dog).

This trio buys a motorsailer specifically for a 1,500-mile trip from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, sailing away from a Canadian winter season via the Intracoastal Waterway. They are richly rewarded with an entire range of cruising experiences along the way. Pack your sea bag and enter their world; your own horizons will be broadened as a result.

Don acquired the “Silver” moniker in Nova Scotia, where the name Cameron is common enough for the need to distinguish between several Donald Camerons. Don, the author and sailor, is the one with the white hair. In this book he could have been called “Dandelion Don,” because he had a terrible time finding a barber along the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., and that thatch of white hair became a halo before a hairdresser was finally located.

I have always admired Don as a master with words, and he’s done it again. His description of an evening in Halifax is a good example. “Catherine MacKinnon picked up her fiddle and began another haunting slow air, plangent and sweet and melancholy. It felt like an ethereal exhalation from the most ancient parts of the soul. And the past was all around us — the Acadians, the forts, the salty old seaport, the historic ships both above the water and below it. Sitting on the deck of a schooner, surrounded by my country’s past and bathed in its music, poised to sail into an unknown future, I suddenly realized that I knew exactly who I was, and exactly where I was. And I liked it.”

Don is honest about their trip down the Intracoastal Waterway. Equipment failed, the weather was sometimes unpleasant, clearing U.S. customs was a hassle, and grocery shopping and laundry became major events. Because they were making a late-season delivery, they pushed too hard and moved too fast. Sometimes lonely, at other times they had more social interaction than needed. But they had a good time, learned much about themselves and others, and found that they were fitter and younger-feeling than when they left. Once in the Bahamas, the pace slowed, and the madcap race to arrive was forgotten.

Reading this book will whet your appetite for more by Silver Donald Cameron. I can wholeheartedly recommend that path. You won’t regret any of the journeys you make with this man whose words are silver. Perhaps that’s a better reason for the additional name he has worn so well for so long.

Back To Top


Sally Steals an Elephant

by John Vigor, audiobook narrated by Theresa Meis (produced by Good Old Boat, 2006; 2 hours; $15.00/download, $19.95/MP3 CD, $24.00/audio CD)
Reviewed by Morgan Doyle, age 12, St. Paul, Minn.

Sally Steals an Elephant is by John Vigor, who also wrote So Long, Foxtrot Charlie and Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer. Sally Steals an Elephant is the sequel to Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer. All three audio CDs are narrated by Theresa Meis. She reads clearly and changes the tone of her voice to match the characters. The book comes to life as if the characters are actually speaking. The PDF map, included with this audio CD, helped me understand and visualize the adventure.

The main characters are Sally and her two younger brothers, Peter and Andy Grant. They are sailing around the world with their father on a diesel-powered monohull. The story begins with the Grant children in the jungles of South Africa. They notice a tethered elephant outside the town and go to look at it. They discover a zookeeper is mistreating the elephant so the Grant children decide to rescue the elephant at night. But the frightened elephant runs off into the jungle; now the Grants have to find the elephant before the evil zookeeper does.

This audio CD is best for ages 8 to 12. You don’t have to be a boating kid to enjoy this story, but it was fun to listen to the kids’ explorations by dinghy. I had a great time listening to Sally Steals an Elephant.

Back To Top


Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Repair Manual

by Jean-Luc Pallas (Sheridan House, Inc., 2006; 208 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Will Sibley, Shady Side, Md.

In this lavishly illustrated volume, Jean-Luc Pallas, professor of Recreational Marine Mechanics at La Rochelle Technical College in France, has produced what I would regard as a “must-read” reference for owners whose boats have diesel auxiliary propulsion systems. I say this from the perspective of one who has owned sailboats for 70 years and who now (after an academic career) runs a small-scale solo business repairing sailboats on Chesapeake Bay.

Replete with diagrams, drawings, and photographs, this volume is suitable for owners who do serious maintenance work themselves and also for those who farm out this work but who need to be well informed.

The volume begins with a section on theory: diesel operation, fuel and air supplies, lubrication, cooling, propulsion, and electrical systems and includes many explanatory diagrams, graphs, and explanations of how things work.

Theoretical matter is followed with a thorough section on maintenance, including schedules, tools needed, and a listing of multiple tasks within the ability of any reasonably adept diesel owner. Information is included on batteries, stuffing boxes, and shaft seals in addition to maintenance guidance for the engine itself. This section, too, is profusely and usefully illustrated. Though the pictures may not be of a particular owner’s engine, the basic operations are clearly shown. The wise diesel owner will also invest in manuals for her/his specific engine model to supplement this general guide. Generally, factory repair manuals can be purchased to supplement the basic, but often minimal, information provided with engines installed by boatbuilders.

For the more skilled and/or adventurous do-it-yourself owners, there follows an excellent repair section, with pictures of typical operations ranging from valve adjustment to engine rebuilding and replacement. Much of this may be beyond the ken of most owners — but being well informed can avoid misunderstanding and unnecessary expense when dealing with mechanics and boatyards.

A section on breakdowns includes an extensive table of symptoms and solutions and is followed with an excellent essay on winterizing, then restarting a diesel engine after winter storage.

There is much meat here. The price seems quite reasonable for such a useful compendium of information.

Back To Top


Cruising: The Basics

by Zora and David Aiken (The Lyons Press, 2006; 209 Pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Joseph Orefice, Baltimore, Md.

When you see a book title like Cruising: The Basics, you would normally assume that it would cover ground about the cruising lifestyle: sailing from port to port, provisioning, and the sort of tips and tricks sailors generally pick up while adventuring out from the dock for weekends, weeks, or months. Such books have been written, but this book isn’t one of them.

More suitable is this book’s original title, Cruising: The Illustrated Essentials. This title gives you a better impression of what you will find inside. It condenses the likes of the Annapolis Book of Seamanship and Chapman’s Piloting, Seamanship & Small Boat Handling into the bare minimum of what you need to know when sailing or motoring.

The book organization is well executed and, overall, authors Zora and David Aiken succeed in getting the information across by breaking it down into various bite-sized topics. The navigation section covers the basics such as lights, buoys, sound signals, and plotting a course. The chapter on rules of the road is a nice refresher.

Section two is the largest of the three sections and covers the most ground. This is where the book really shines. It covers bridges, locks, towlines, anchoring, and riding waves. In addition, each section talks about how to handle encounters with commercial traffic. The third and final section covers weather, laws, insurance, and etiquette for boaters.

Considering it’s small size, Cruising: The Basics covers a lot of ground. Those of us who cruise will find it to be a good refresher or quick-reference book. It’s not a replacement for the larger books dedicated to the fine points of seamanship, but it doesn’t require much muscle to lift, either. It does have tips for cruising scattered throughout. The only noticeable shortcoming is that a chapter on sailing is absent; sailing isn’t even touched except during the “Rules of the Road” chapter.

Cruising: The Basics will shine as an introduction for friends who have never set foot on a boat. If you give them a good introduction to recreational boating and allow them to participate more, they’ll enjoy their time aboard and you’ll enjoy having them as guests.

Back To Top


A Ship’s Tale

by N. Jay Young (Boston Books, 2006; 358 pages, $19.95)
Reviewed by Jim Shroeger, Traverse City, Mich.

High seas adventure, piracy, kidnapping, political intrigue, an Irish Sea gale, and even a bit of romance…all this and more awaits the readers of A Ship’s Tale.

Jay Young tells a story about a group of tall-ship sailors who had more years at sea than a lapstrake dory has copper rivets. These stalwarts were led by Captain Bowman and aided in their adventure by two Royal Navy sailors just released from service after WW II. Add an enticing barmaid and an entire orphanage of teen-aged boys and you have the cast of characters for A Ship’s Tale.

The story revolves around Captain Bowman and his crew, who were determined to save the Bonnie Clyde, a true good old boat! The Clyde was a 300-foot, three-masted bark that the local politicians determined was a relic of the past and needed to be scuttled in order to clean up the waterfront. What the politicians did not know was that Captain Bowman and his band were planning to abscond with the Clyde and sail her to the boatyard in Scotland where she was built. She was to be rebuilt there and preserved as a museum ship.

The rescue involved a 1,000-mile voyage in waters that were notorious for bad weather. The Clyde was crewed by young, inexperienced boys sailing a ship that had been provisioned by felonious acquisitions of ship’s stores from the area Royal Navy yard and the local circus. Along the way they were caught in a powerful gale, offered aid to the U.S. Navy and, in return, were aided by a U.S. submarine. An entire network of ham-radio operators also came to the Clyde’s assistance.

Was the Clyde safely delivered to her home port or was the entire crew arrested for piracy? The answer to those and many other questions awaits the readers of A Ship’s Tale. Jay Young has created a wonderful sea adventure that is exciting, believable, and a real page-turner.

Back To Top


Practical Sailor — Guide to Sailing Gear

edited by Dan Dickison (Lyons Press, 2006; 296 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Al Horner, Victoria, B.C.

A practical test of whistles? Yup. It’s right there on page 184 in “Safety and Survival.” If you own a good old boat, you need this book.

This book was created from articles published in Practical Sailor magazine over a number of years. It’s not just a reprint of articles; a lot of the testing details have been condensed to provide the most useful information in the fewest pages. Yet the editors haven’t skimped on details; in every section they provide background. For example, in the section on high-tech line, there’s an explanation of the variety of modern line components, then the testing of various lines. A similar approach is taken with almost all of the gear tests and comparisons. Depending on how you use your boat, coastal versus off-shore, it’s possible to narrow the choices to the best gear for your boat and your type of sailing.

The book is well laid out and while you may not be interested in all of the sections, it’s a good cover-to-cover read. The best use after the initial reading is to put it on your reference shelf, where it’s available the next time you need to replace things, maintain things, or just putter — it’s reassuring to confirm you’ve been using the right caulking, boat cleaners, and waxes, for example.

Topics are grouped logically and range from deck hardware to plumbing, electrical systems, safety and survival, creature comforts, and more. Other excellent features are the numerous sidebars, tables, and photos that give summaries of information.

One caveat: the editors admit that prices are not current. This can be a bit disconcerting at first but, as they point out, the given prices will provide a relative comparison that is useful when you go to your favorite chandler. The eight pages of websites and contact information may even help you pick the right source of the gear you need. You can do a lot of homework with the help of these resources.

This is an excellent book for anyone who owns a sailboat, new or old. It packs a lot of information into its pages. I wish I’d had this book when I refitted Water Rat II.

Back To Top


Mudlark’s Ghosts and the Restoration of a Herreshoff Meadow Lark

by Ian Scott (Sheridan House, 2006, 172 pages, $19.95)
Reviewed by Janet Perkins, Stone Mountain, Ga.

A man who owns 11 boats, six on one side of the Atlantic and five on the other, is either eccentric…or truly loves boats. Ian Scott, the author of Mudlark’s Ghosts, is the latter.

His story of 12 years spent restoring Mudlark, a 1953 custom modification of L. Francis Herreshoff’s Meadow Lark sharpie design, leaves no doubt of his affection for the wooden boats he considers a valued heritage, but his devotion was sorely tried by the restoration of this one.

For a boat professionally designed and built, Mudlark suffered a surprising number of design and construction shortcomings, including a sailplan and lee board positioning that caused lee helm and significant problems with the hull. Therein lies the “ghosts” part of the book’s title. No haunts, just the author’s doing what probably every restorer of an older boat would love to do: ask questions of the designer/builder. Since Mudlark’s are deceased, Ian imagines the conversations…a feat he carries off convincingly.

There are several interwoven stories. One deals with choosing Mudlark in spite of her problems, another with the author’s appreciation of wooden boats. Then there is the aforementioned effort to understand the decisions made by those who shaped and built the boat, and the restorations that eventually meant taking the boat apart and rebuilding — a project the author undertook to do himself after retiring.

Devastatingly honest about his initial lack of skill or knowledge, Ian has a gift for putting into words the experiences of boatkeeping and boat restoration to which anyone who has done either can relate. “I learned that there were limits to my time-tested belief that by promising the ridiculous I could achieve the impossible,” and “With age and experience I had learned the best can sometimes be the enemy of the good and that the good was often good enough” may sound familiar. He is justifiably proud of what he accomplished and says he wrote the book “to demonstrate that anybody can take on projects like this if they really want to…and (truly) that if I can do it anybody can do it.”

Ian Scott is a fine writer — articulate, passionate, organized, and possessed of that self-deprecating English humor that enlivens. Having finished Mudlark with the observation that “there will always be something to improve,” he and his wife sailed off to spend 2007 exploring shallow waters. We can hope the “ghosts” approve and another chapter in the old boat’s life will appear.

Back To Top


A Berth to Bermuda – 100 Years of the World’s Classic Ocean Race

by John Rousmaniere (Mystic Seaport and The Cruising Club of America, 2006; 206 pages; $50.00)
Reviewed by George Zimmerman, Olympia, Wash.

In order to encourage the design, building, and sailing of small seaworthy yachts, to make popular cruising upon deep water, to develop in the amateur sailor a love of true seamanship, and to give opportunity to become proficient in the art of navigation, an ocean race has been planned…

(Preamble to the notice of the Bermuda Race in 1926 and years thereafter)

In 1906 Thomas Fleming Day organized a race that began in Brooklyn, New York, and headed east-southeast over 700 miles of blue water, crossed the Gulf Stream, and finished in Bermuda. The revolutionary thinking behind the Bermuda Race was his idea that ocean racing was not just for professional sailors in large vessels sponsored by wealthy tycoons, but rather “the ocean is a playground where amateur sailors cannot only sail small boats, but race them offshore.”

Thomas Day felt that “small vessels are safer than large, provided they are properly designed, stoutly built, thoroughly equipped, and skillfully manned.” His idea was met with skepticism, ridicule, and fear. Those fears were heard. Of the five crews supposed to compete in the first race, only three started. Rumors had it these boats had funeral wreaths delivered to them so the sailors could have a proper burial at sea. All three sailboats finished the race and all crewmembers survived. A tradition had been started and the race to Bermuda continues to present day.

A Berth to Bermuda chronicles each race (usually every two years) that has been held over the last 100 years. It also describes how the races taught yacht designers and builders, sailors, and navigators about sailing small boats on the open ocean. With his thoughtful analysis and commentary, author John Rousmaniere shows how the lessons learned from each race promoted changes in every aspect of sailing: yacht design and construction, sail making, racing tactics, seamanship, safety requirements, and navigation. The many photographs highlight these changes. They also show, from a historical perspective, how during the 100-year history of this race, sailing has changed from a sport reserved only for the rich to a sport of the common man. By the end of the book, it is readily apparent that one man’s idea and an ocean race played a significant role in creating the modern sport of sailing.

John Rousmaniere, author of 22 books, has sailed more than 35,000 miles, including seven Newport to Bermuda races. He is a member of the Cruising Club of America. His knowledge of boats and seamanship are put to good use in the organization and writing of this well-written book. The many photographs and detailed historical accounts of each race bring to life the sailors, racing tactics, and sailboats that participated in this challenging race. The reader is transported through time into the cockpit of ocean-going yachts racing through the Gulf Stream, while being informed of how the sport of sailing reinvented itself. It is an important book for the serious sailor as well as the curious sailor who wonders about the “why” and the “how” of the sport that occupies so much of his life.

Back To Top


Dictionary of Nautical Acronyms and Abbreviations

by Donald Launer (Sheridan House, 2006; 145 pages; $13.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

SYWNTB. After paging through Dictionary of Nautical Acronyms and Abbreviations, by Donald Launer, that’s my new acronym for Someday You Will Need This Book. Count on it.

This book, published by Sheridan House, may keep you and your boat out of trouble if you don’t recognize an unusual notation on a nautical chart. Or it may end an argument regarding the true meaning of a familiar and overused acronym. If nothing else, it will expand your nautical gray matter with useful and trivial tidbits.

Donald Launer compiled all the relevant nautical acronyms and abbreviations because he wanted a reference of this type for his own use. And he was kind enough to share it with the rest of us.

Don says, “Today, abbreviations, acronyms, and truncations are being used with increasing frequency. This is partly due to the widespread use of more sophisticated equipment on board, along with their associated complexities, and partly due to the sometimes mistaken belief that these abbreviations simplify explanations and identifications.

“For those new to boating,” he continues, “this problem is especially daunting, since it seems as if they are listening to or reading a foreign language. While many nautical terms, in themselves, can be confusing, some of the acronyms and abbreviations can be bewildering, and the many new abbreviations dealing with modern electronics can be mystifying, even for old salts.”

This book is organized in two parts. The first is an alphabetical listing of acronyms and abbreviations, as you would expect. It includes NOAA chart notations (in a much more convenient organization than the one offered by NOAA, which requires you to search for a notation such as dk or bu section by section). The dk means dark, by the way, and bu means blue. Black had already taken bl. Don lists these notations in italic type, as shown here, according to NOAA chart protocol., The second part of this book is an annotated version of Chart No. 1, in case you really do prefer to search for dk section by section.

This book provides helpful illustrations as well for abbreviations such as CB for center of buoyancy of a boat or Dec for declination of a celestial body. What do the words really mean? The illustrations will come in very handy. In fact, this entire book will come in very handy when you need it. What did I say? SYWNTB. Someday You Will Need This Book.

Back To Top


Outboard Motors: Maintenance and Repair Manual

by Jean-Luc Pallas (Sheridan House, 2006; 112 pages; $23.50)
Reviewed by Will Sibley, Shady Side, Md.

In this volume, which includes a profusion of diagrams and photographs, Jean-Luc Pallas, professor of Recreational Mechanics at La Rochelle Technical College in France, provides a most valuable resource for all outboard engine users, ranging from those who allocate all maintenance and repair to others to dedicated do-it-yourselfers willing to tackle serious maintenance and repair tasks themselves. My comments are from the perspective of a long-time sailboat owner who now operates a small-scale solo sailboat repair business on Chesapeake Bay.

Though individual engines may vary, general principles governing the care and feeding of the numerous brands of both 2-cycle and 4-cycle outboards are much the same. Wise outboard owners will, in addition to owning useful volumes such as the one reviewed here, purchase engine-specific repair manuals to supplement the meager information supplied when most engines are purchased. The more information one has, the less likely one is to be taken in or cheated by less-than-straightforward mechanics or repair facilities.

This book begins with information on the theory and operation of 2- and 4-cycle outboards. Their anatomy, operation, and terminology are explored thoroughly, supplemented with numerous diagrams, photos, and drawings. Essays on fuel, ignition, cooling, drive systems and lubrication are included among the topics covered.

Following the theory and operation section is an extensive review of maintenance issues, including instrumentation, noise analysis, cooling and fuel systems. Then comes a section on scheduled maintenance, along with an extensive list of hands-on tasks, ranging from checking and changing sparkplugs to carburetor adjustments to battery maintenance.

A chapter on breakdowns follows. Such events always seem to occur at the most inconvenient times, making this portion of the book among its most useful. The breakdown tables provide a list of problems, along with listings of probable causes for each problem area. The repair solutions suggested provide a good troubleshooting guide to getting oneself out of difficulty.

The volume ends with an extensive, illustrated essay on laying up and storing the outboard at the end of a season. A conversion table for commonly used units of measurement (lengths, liquids, capacities, weights, etc.) provides an endpiece for this useful book, along with a useful index.

This reasonably priced volume would be a worthy addition to any outboard owner’s bookshelf!

Back To Top


Blue Water Odyssey

DVD produced by Robert G. Driscoll (CustomFlix, 2006; 90 minutes; $19.95)
Reviewed by Sylvia Horvath, Vancouver, B.C.

Blue Water Odyssey is a top-notch “home movie,” in which the viewer is invited to share the adventure of a family’s five-year sailing voyage around the world. A wooden gaff-rigged Sea Witch ketch, 36 feet on deck with a 13 foot beam, certainly qualifies as a good old boat. She carried this family of five from San Diego, California, across the Pacific to Hawaii, touching some islands off the beaten track in the South Pacific, then down to Australia. They passed to the Indian Ocean via the Torres Strait, then to South Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope. They crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, stopping at St. Helena, some islands near Brazil, then through the Panama Canal and home.

From their mention of the Gilbert Islands’ becoming independent, the voyage must have taken place some time in the 1970s. Therefore, as a travelogue, it may well be outdated. However, the portrayal of exotic native ceremonies and practices is interesting and informative.

There are some beautiful scenes and fun family times at sea and at anchor, well photographed but poorly edited. The music, which is original, seems to dictate the length of the scenes, rather than being used as background to enhance the mood. Consequently, most scenes run on too long and this viewer’s interest soon waned. Compounding this is the uninspired narration. Since it has apparently been transcribed from the original film to a digital format, there are some technical film glitches and the quality of the color is inconsistent.

Compared to most home movies, however, this one has some excellent amateur cinematography and interesting scenes that — with some judicious editing, improved narration, and background music — could be of interest to cruising clubs or armchair cruisers. As it stands, it is sure to be a treasured record of this family’s unique adventure for generations to come.

Back To Top


The Working Guide to Traditional Small-boat Sails: A How-to Handbook for Builders and Owners

by David L. Nichols (Breakaway Books, 2006; 96 pages; $21.95)
Reviewed by Glenn Kaufmann, Bloomington, Ind.

As a result of class and regatta handicapping requirements, the Marconi rig has more or less evolved into the default modern-day sail plan. But for many boatbuilders and sailors, a triangular jib paired with a larger triangular mainsail may not be the best choice, either aesthetically or for reasons of efficiency.

In this new volume from Breakaway Books, veteran boatbuilder David L. Nichols counsels that the best way to move your boat forward may be to look backward, to the sailing rigs of the past. As a boatbuilder and sailmaker with more than 15 years of experience, Nichols has put together a nuts and bolts guide to traditional sailing rigs that thoroughly explores the sails, spars, and rigging of numerous traditional sail plans.

Beginning with a basic treatise on sail anatomy and aerodynamics, the author establishes a fundamental understanding of the working properties of sails, before launching into any serious design discussion. This introductory section is followed up with an equally well-founded chapter on the importance of sound marlinespike skills. Nichols explains that from whipping a line to seizing an eye, good marlinespike skills may not only save you money, but could save your bacon when rigging fails., The book’s greatest asset is its detailed discussion of how to replace a modern sail plan with a traditional rig. In particular, the author includes the measurements and calculations needed to figure the Center of Effort for both modern and traditional sail. He then explains why this information is important, and how to use these figures to efficiently design your rig.

Specific sailing rigs covered in the book include the sliding gunter, sprit sail, a variety of lug sails, gaff sails, and a section on variants of traditional designs. In discussing each of the designs, the author stresses that they all represent a compromise and offer a unique set of tradeoffs. While he does discuss the advantages of different rigs and how they were originally used, Mr. Nichols is careful not to definitively discuss which sails work best on particular boats. He leaves it for the reader to decide which rig will fit his or her own vessel.

In the end, though the book has quite a few typos and small editorial glitches, it is packed with lots of clear photos, detailed instructions, and is a good first reference book for anyone wanting to study traditional sail plans. Mr. Nichols does an excellent job of explaining the fundamentals in terms that are useful to old salts looking to tweak their rigs, builders trying to figure out what’s next, and admirers of traditional design.

Back To Top


Trekka Round the World

by John Guzzwell, audiobook narrated by the author (Produced by Good Old Boat, 2007; 9.7 hours; 2007; $25.00)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards Sequim, Wash.

This audiobook should come with a warning: may be life altering! It is inspiring to “look over the shoulder” of a recent immigrant lad as he proceeds quietly and surely to make his dreams a reality. The adventures he relates and the word pictures he paints of places and people encountered during his voyages may awaken an urge in the readers to pursue their own dreams.

I was immediately engrossed in this tale. However, being constitutionally unable to sit for 9+ hours by the computer, and being among the last of my generation to navigate life without an iPod/MP3 player, I burned a set of the expanded files to CDs (nine of them) that I could listen to while driving. I soon found myself driving to distant chandleries, and making frequent trips to the marina for small boat projects (“life altering” comes in many forms).

John Guzzwell arrived in Victoria, Calif., a young man in his early 20s, with a small satchel of clothes and a box of woodworking tools, a love of the sea inherited from his father, and a dream to make a long voyage in a boat of his own. He quickly found work using his skills as a ‘joiner.’ With a profound but quiet sense of self-confidence, he set about his dream of a small voyaging boat. John corresponded with J. Laurent Giles, who agreed to design a suitable vessel. Next, John found a space for rent where he could begin construction of Trekka — a storeroom behind a fish and chips shop. He purchased wood with savings from his various day jobs and made surprisingly quick work of Trekka’s construction, completing her hull and deck in nine months.

John launched Trekka into the inner harbor of Victoria in August 1954. Her masts and rigging were in place the next spring so that John and Trekka could learn one another’s ways. On September 10, 1955, well down on her lines from the stores aboard, they headed out the Strait of Juan de Fuca en route to Hawaii. A diversion to San Francisco for minor repairs proved fortuitous. There, he met Miles and Beryl Smeeton and their daughter Clio, who were cruising aboard their wooden ketch, Tzu Hang. A strong friendship quickly developed. They agreed to sail in company to Hawaii, and then on to New Zealand, arriving in May 1956.

In New Zealand, a new plan developed. John had Trekka laid up so that he could sail with the Smeetons on the square-rigger route around Cape Horn. On February 14, 1957, while running before an awesome sea, about 1000 miles west of Chile, Tzu Hang pitchpoled. John quietly recounts their combined efforts to make Tzu Hang watertight again and construct a jury rig with sufficient sail to make landfall in Caronel, Chile.

Once reunited with Trekka back in New Zealand, John felt confident in proceeding on around the world. He and Trekka crossed their wake in the Hawaii Islands on July 27, 1959. His was the first circumnavigation by a Canadian, and for a while,Trekka was the smallest boat to circumnavigate.

This book is an acknowledged classic that has already inspired other cruisers who are now well-known for their own accomplishments. Hearing the tale told by the author makes this book an especially welcome addition to any library. John concludes with a final caution of sorts: “The sea has an enchantment that may captivate you and make you a bit of a misfit on land.”

Back To Top


Travels With Yeti

by Hiram Connell (Back Channel Press, 2006; 200 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Donald Chambers, Lawrence, Kan.

Here is the story of an enthusiastic sailing couple and their five-year wander down the Atlantic Coast and through the Caribbean to Venezuela and back. You get the complete story, starting from their very first dinghy sail to the final, sale of Yeti, the sailboat that entwined their lives over so many years. It would be a character-building read for those who have been tempted to do something similar; your heart will warm toward an author who spares us no details about the mistakes he makes along the way to becoming a seasoned cruiser. And there are some exciting descriptions of sailing in rough weather, including what it is like to have your mainsail split by high winds while in the middle of the ocean.

There are odd characters met on the beach, odd goings-on in strange boats in the middle of the night, the great (and miserable) food, and the frustrating encounters with local Caribbean police and customs officers. There are brief descriptions of islands and anchorages and lots of judgments about good ports-of-call plus some details about those a person might want to avoid. And while there was probably too much on dealing with engine problems, it was comforting to learn that other people also had these things happen to them at the worst possible time.

While the book is worthwhile, it sometimes can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a cruising guide or a memoir of a wonderful cruise of a lifetime. An author probably can’t do both in the same book, so it’s sometimes a bit short on both counts. The details about anchoring and navigation aren’t sufficient and there often is not enough about the people and their stories. One missing detail: while Hiram Connell’s wife, Helen, was an integral part of this adventure, I feel like I know almost nothing about her. Of course, he gives her heartfelt acknowledgments along the way but I wish he’d also given her a voice.

Other things could have been left out — perhaps half of the pictures and almost all of the editorial asides on the politics, the poverty and the graft in third-world countries. I suspect most readers know those facts already.

But there were some nice stories in the book: the spontaneous operatic concert in the Puerto Rico restaurant, the 25th wedding anniversary on some isolated island, the evening with Earl and the poetry and the waltzing. Yes, yes, author, give us more!

Back To Top


Joseph Conrad, Master Mariner

by Peter Villiers (Published in the UK by Seafarer Books; published in the USA by Sheridan House, 2006; 129 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Stephen Blair, Córdoba Province, Argentina

Joseph Conrad, the 19th-century novelist, was a master mariner whose life at sea was nearly as eventful as his novels. That is the premise of this exquisitely written biography of Conrad, which breaks new ground because it was based on a hitherto unpublished study by the expert sailor, Alan Villiers, whose work was completed after his death by his son, Peter Villiers. Although the book mentions points of contact between Conrad’s life at sea and his novels, the focus is firmly on Conrad as sailor, rather than as a writer. One need not like Conrad’s novels to enjoy the biography.

Despite the book’s wealth of detail about 19th-century sailing, it’s very accessible. The book includes a glossary of sailing terms and is illustrated by color reproductions of paintings of ships on which Conrad sailed. As a scholarly book with color reproductions, it would be equally at home on a coffee table, on the shelf of a yacht or in the office of a Conrad scholar. The book, however, contains no charts, so paragraphs on navigational routes will require some readers to consult a globe.

Conrad, after commanding a deep-water ship, took on a very different navigational task. In 1890 he steered a boat on Africa’s hot, dangerous Congo River, with which he had no familiarity. Conrad was appalled at the Belgians’ exploitation of Africans and this experience led Conrad to write the pessimistic, nightmarish novella Heart of Darkness. Any sailor with a genuine interest in the realities — economic, navigational, and experiential, of 19th-century merchant sailing will enjoy this book.

Back To Top


Dancing With the Wind: A Musical Meditation on the Romance of Sail

by Ed Verner (a Wind Ketcher production, 2007; 28 minutes plus extra footage and an original music sound track CD; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dancing With the Wind. I can’t decide about this new video produced as a DVD…is it the romantic sunset scene or the easy galloping motion of a vessel described through music? Perhaps it’s capturing the pleasure of leaving the dock in the morning or the pelican’s startled response to the oncoming sailboat. Maybe it’s the afternoon thunderstorm or the impromptu man-overboard drill. I’m a big fan of dawn and sunset moments. Perhaps that’s it! Or maybe it’s the poetic aerial shots of the easy motion of a sailboat as it meets each wave.

These scenes and all the rest are set to original music that effectively captures the spirit of sailing and draws the viewer in. There’s no need for talk and patronizing descriptions. Any-one can see the sailors on Wind Ketcher are having a good time. Any sailor will see this video and long to be aboard this or his own sailboat. Any non-sailor will ask, “Where can I sign up? How can I do this?” Ed says this video is not so much about how to sail; it’s about the why of sailing.

Come sailing with Ed and Amanda Verner and their sailing partner, Gil Gott. With Ed’s beautiful soundtrack emphasizing the rhythm of the sea, these three make sailing look easy and enjoyable. Ed is an accomplished musician, sailor, and movie director. He has assembled his love of sailing, of his classic sailboat, of his new wife, and of music into something that simply hasn’t been done before. He created a new kind of sailing video, and with it may very well have piloted a new genre of sailing DVD.

As I watched I couldn’t help but wonder whether Ed wrote the music to go with the footage or created the footage to go with the music. The two are perfectly matched. The answer lies in the behind-the-scenes description of the production. He created 28 minutes of music and crafted the scenes to match the mood of the melodies. My hat’s off to Ed Verner for this incredible performance. Bravo! Encore!

Ed will share the proceeds of the sale of this DVD — which has been packaged with an audio CD of the original music soundtrack — with three charities. Get your copy at http://www.dancingwiththewind.net, Ed’s equally professional website. Ed Verner is a published author in Good Old Boat and a good old boater in every respect. We’re proud to count him as one of “the rest of us.”

Back To Top


Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

by Joan Druett (Algonquin Books, 2007; 284 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Victor Schreffler, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Island of the Lost is the well-written account of the fate of two sets of castaways on the Auckland Islands in 1864 through 1865. Remarkably, neither knew of the other’s existence as both groups struggled for survival through the many months, including a sub-antarctic winter. Though fewer in original number than the 19 initial survivors of the Invercauld, the Grafton’s crew faired much better due, in large part, to the courageous decision of one man to choose hope. His determination to recognize a greater providence, a commitment to egalitarian society, and his consistently upbeat leadership were essential to the survival of the five-man crew.

For those who need an excuse to enjoy a good book, the leadership principles throughout the work are very insightful. For others, the ongoing ingenuity and survival tactics recounted will prove informative. The construction of a sturdy lodge by the Grafton crew, the sod house on Rabbit Island by the ever-dwindling members of the Invercauld, and the eventual creation of a functional metal forge (using copper sheathing and charcoal) were interesting and inspiring solutions. If I’m ever shipwrecked…

Joan Druett has done a superb job of weaving together excellent research into a highly readable and fascinating account of survival and the sea. She writes with a thorough knowledge of the period and even her narrative interpolations reflect a stylistic consistency with the period. It is a fun read of an absorbing tale which, though a work of nonfiction, moves along at the pace of a good novel.

Back To Top


Small Boats on Green Waters

edited by Brian Anderson (Breakaway Books, 2007; 340 pages; $15.00)
Reviewed by Sylvia Horvath, Richmond, B.C.

Subtitled “A Treasury of Good Reading on Coastal and Inland Cruising,” this collection of excerpts from well-known to as-yet- unpublished authors is enjoyable cover to cover. Although they are excerpts from larger works, they have been chosen so well that they stand alone. Nevertheless, you may find yourself making notes of titles and authors that pique your interest for more.

As fellow “boat nuts,” we may enjoy in this collection everything from the whimsical adventures of Mole and Rat to historical naval battles. We are taken through the experiences and imaginations of a wide variety of people who have loved “messing about in small boats.” We can share the appreciation of fine craftsmanship in descriptions of small-boat building, the hardships of explorers, and the childhood discovery of the pleasures of boating.

One of the editor’s goals was to choose from the works of good writers, many of whom may be quite familiar to the average reader. However, he shows himself to be a good writer, also, in his informative and apropos introductions to each story. In his own readable style, he sheds light on the authors and the circumstances surrounding the stories, so that even familiar tales may be read with fresh enjoyment.

Small Boats on Green Waters would make a treasured addition to anyone’s library, especially on board where a short story at the end of a long day is just the thing to relax the mind. There is a danger, however, for you may even begin to long for the simpler life of sailing a small boat in shallow waters as you read of the pleasures to be found in less ambitious and less costly journeys. On the other hand, if you, like the editor in his boyhood, are “boatless, reading everything you can on the subject, and waiting for the day when you can lay your hands on something that will float,” perhaps you will be inspired to start out in a small boat and on the greenest water you can find near home.

Back To Top


An Affair of Honor

by Robert N. Macomber (Pineapple Press, 2006; 366 pages; $21.95)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Bloch, Naples, Fla.

This is the fifth novel in Robert Macomber’s series of historical naval fiction, which begins around the time of the Civil War with At the Edge of Honor. I have loved these books for the evolution of writing talent, the engaging stories and captivating characters. The content of the stories stimulates my sense of adventure and gives me the sense that I’m a member of the crew, a rare pleasure for a 21st century sailor who can now experience our Civil War era Navy only through great storytelling.

We continue to follow the life and career of U.S. Naval Officer Lieutenant Peter Wake as both he and the Navy navigate through some tricky politically charged waters. In the last book in the “Honor” series, A Dishonorable Few, Wake put himself on the line to protect U.S. interests and to salvage the tender political possibilities in the Caribbean. In this sequel Peter Wake receives the type of appreciation only a politically driven governmental agency can so disappointingly dole out. He is assigned to a sleepy West Indies patrol with the expectation he will be “punished” for a long enough time that the ruffled feathers in Washington will have time to recover. However, Wake’s propensity for being at the right place at the right time to save his country leaves him under suspicion of being an anti-British spy and causes him to be reassigned to a staff position in Europe where politics entangle him like a spider’s web.

Of course, our hero knows how to handle difficult situations and make them “interesting,” so his personal life and career move at a rapid pace. He has more adventures per ounce in this sequel than a reader has the right to hope for.

Amidst dangerous political maneuverings of Old World Europe, Wake must disentangle himself, and by proxy, the United States, from a multi-faceted smorgasbord of problems between the nations of Germany, France, Italy and Britain, all trying to gain position in the European continent or salvage what they can politically.

This story is intense, beautifully written, and the experience is worthy of a very slowly savored reading.

Back To Top


Personal Best: Chasing the Wind Above and Below the Equator

by Edward Muesch (Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2006; 286 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Ed and Helen Muesch have left a wide wake on the sea of experience. They have lived as farm workers in a commune, raising crops and animals. Later they joined the rat race of corporate America. Then, chasing a retirement dream, they sold their home and most of their belongings and went cruising.

While on that cruise they happened to be in Thailand on the beach when the tsunami of December 2004 struck the area. Clinging together, they were swept across the island and out to sea. With that resumé, perhaps it’s time for them to settle down. But that’s not a likely next chapter.

Personal Best: Chasing the Wind Above and Below the Equator is Ed Muesch’s book about their world cruising adventures and the tragedy and trauma of the tsunami. The book chronicles their discovery of sailing and the events that led to their cruising lifestyle. They sold their home, bought a 1990 Hans Christian 43 ketch, named her Tahlequah, and set out to see the world on the West Marine 1500 Rally in November 2001.

Ed’s book may never have been published if he and Helen had not been halfway around the world in the wrong place at the wrong time three years later. The book is written simply, in journal fashion, chronicling the Mueschs’ adventures abroad for curious friends and family members.

Perhaps because it was self-published, it retains that journal style in which it was initially created and, unfortunately, ignores spelling and grammatical errors. Still, it communicates to all who are willing to overlook those faults. It tells of one couple’s voyage by sea and of the big life-changing event that shaped the lives of Ed and Helen and so many others.

This book is available through http://www.virtualbookworm.com or directly from Ed Muesch: http://www.svtahlequah.com.

Back To Top


The Black Swan

by Christina Moore (Storm Petrel Publications, 2007; 223 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Kristen Brochmann, New York, NY

The Black Swan is a stew of a novel — like the stews the narrator cooks up on the century-old stove in the galley of the Black Swan, a 90-foot steel schooner from the turn of the 20th century plying the tourist windjammer trade on the coast of Maine. No one flavor dominates; instead, we get spicy ingredients — a brutal mate, cowed crew, unseen captain and a mystery that could ruin the ship and her owners, as well as a comfort-food story of personal discovery and healing. Toss in a generous primer on the routines of a well-managed tour of the coast of Maine, and you have a hearty meal indeed.

And like a stew, the narrative is all tossed together. In the first chapter, headed by the word “tunc,” the narrator, Margaret Noonan, leaving behind a wrecked career and sinking marriage, joins the Black Swan, only to find herself isolated on an unhappy ship. In the next chapter, headed by the word “nunc,” the reader finds happy passengers, a gleaming galley smelling of fresh-baked bread, a new captain, and a happy, hard-working Margaret, captain of belowdecks. “Nunc” and “tunc” now and then alternate throughout the book; the “tunc” chapters telling the story of the mystery of the Black Swan and her strange crew, and the “nunc” chapters telling the happy aftermath.

Clearly, Christina Moore did not write a straight-ahead mystery novel. Even the murder at the climax of the book is foretold in many of its details in a story told in a shore-side bar. The heart of the story is Margaret’s journey from wounded middle-aged corporate survivor, working her way through isolation and loneliness to healing and integration, into the world of the Black Swan and its coastal homeport. The reader admires Margaret for her grit, her hard work, and the effort she makes on behalf of the paying passengers, who are sometimes as much victims as she is. In the end she does not find romantic love, but something almost better, a place where she is needed and respected, a place like home.

The Black Swan will not satisfy if the reader is looking for the direct action and struggle of a Sea Wolf, but it has some of the nitty-gritty of the seaboard life found in Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. But the story is compelling as the resourceful and undaunted Margaret strives to deal with her personal demons, and faces the harshness of her mate and the smuggler’s mystery of Black Swan’s past as well as her present.

Back To Top


Lessons from My Good Old Boat

by Don Launer (Sheridan House 2007; 288 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

It is a true pleasure working with Don Launer as a member of the Good Old Boat team. His articles go back almost to our first issue, since it was very early in our formation that he discovered us. We recognized immediately the great value of Don’s contributions and made him a contributing editor without having met him in person.

Later, we did meet at a boat show, and some time after that we spent several days with Don when we decided to feature this very competent sailor and the boat he built from a bare hull. The story of Don and Delphinus appears in our January 2006 issue.

Within an hour spent aboard Delphinus, my husband and magazine co-founder, Jerry Powlas, fell deeply in love with Don’s Lazy Jack 32. This is a boat which sails as it should and is set up and outfitted as one should be for minimal effort and maximum sailing. From bow to stern, Delphinus is a clear testament to Don’s skills as a craftsman and sailor.

The great many articles he has prepared for Good Old Boat also speak volumes (if you’ll pardon the pun) about Don’s ability to communicate the knowledge he has gained over many decades spent sailing. And they say even more about the breadth and depth of this sailor. He is a master in every way, and we’re delighted to offer a regular forum for Don Launer and his nautical talents.

This collection of the articles he has written over the years, mostly but not solely for Good Old Boat, makes the scope of his experience evident. Upon thumbing through this book, you are likely to ask, “Is there any nautical theme Don hasn’t yet addressed?”

We hope the answer will be, “Yes,” although we have the same nagging doubts you do. If, after a lifetime of sailing and boatbuilding, he has left nothing out of this collection of his work, what remains for the next issue of Good Old Boat and the one after that? As you enjoy this book, think of this as one collection which will eventually need an update. Like all good old boats, it is a work in progress. We hope Delphinus has many more lessons in store for Captain Don Launer.

Back To Top


A Step by Step Guide to the Basics of Sailing with Penny Whiting

by Bennett Marine Video (newly available in the U.S. 2007; 80 minutes; $34.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

For those who have sailed a time or two and are committed to learning more about our favorite water-based activity, Bennett Marine Video has introduced a practical sail-training DVD that was first produced in New Zealand. Called A Step by Step Guide to the Basics of Sailing with Penny Whiting, this 80-minute movie features well-known New Zealand sailor and instructor, Penny Whiting.

A longtime sailing school owner, Penny has perfected her training course, starting with parts of the boat, knots, and fittings and moving on to bending on the sails, getting underway, and hoisting sail. She covers points of sail, tacking and jibing, reefing the main and hanking on jibs as well as using a furler, handling a man-overboard emergency, and much more.

Penny delivers all these concepts in a simple, matter-of-fact manner and demonstrates how easy it is to learn the skills by having three students aboard her training vessel. These students are learning as she demonstrates sailing skills for them as well as for the audience behind the video camera. This is a good tactic; most new sailors are likely to feel that if these students can learn to tie a bowline, bend on and hoist the main, or tack and jibe, so can they.

One of the nicest parts of Penny’s presentation is that lovely New Zealand accent but, at the same time, because she is from New Zealand her U.S. DVD students are put at a small disadvantage. This is only because her sailing terminology and even her methodology varies to a slight degree from ours. She ties a reef knot when we tie a square knot. Not a problem. But who knew that we’d run a figure-eight-style cleat hitch around a horn cleat differently than they do in New Zealand? Still, sailing is sailing the world over, and Penny is out to increase the number of sailors no matter what country they call home. We’re in favor of that!

I wouldn’t recommend this DVD for someone who is totally unfamiliar with sailing. It’s not a true introductory video; there’s too much detail presented in 80 minutes for the true novice. But I would highly recommend this DVD for someone who has been exposed to sailing and wants to learn more.

Back To Top


World Voyagers, the True Story of a Veterinarian, a Renaissance man, and Stewart the Cat

by Amy P. Wood, Philip J. Shelton and Stewart P. Wood (Book Orchard Press, Inc., 2007; 432 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Susan Lynn Kingsbury, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Author Amy Wood stated that she wanted to write a book that told the true story — not one with fluff — and she indeed accomplishes this feat with World Voyagers, an all-encompassing detailed account of a three-year circumnavigation aboard Iwalani.

Although this book is lengthy, it reads like a daily log or blog (which is where Amy and Phil originally posted the details of their trip online), and it allows the reader to ultimately become part of the crew, sailing right along with Phil, Amy and Stewart. It’s easy to forget you’re just “reading” about being places like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, the Marquesas, Australia and South Africa (just to name a few), as Amy unequivocally “takes you there.”

She shares all the joys, pitfalls, sights, smells, experiences, and enough of herself with us to make us feel like we really are encountering the adventure firsthand. You’ll feel the seasickness she hides from her husband Phil, find yourself waking up every four hours to do your watch, and even crying along with them when they lose their beloved pet at sea.

But you’ll also feel the warm sun on your skin as you sail naked in the tropics, see waters in multiple amazing shades of blue, meet interesting people from all corners of the world, and get up close and personal with lions and many other furred, feathered, and finned wildlife. Then, once in home port again, you’ll feel a true sense of accomplishment.

Well, actually, it’s Amy and Phil who succeed in doing something they had a burning desire in their hearts to do. “It was a goal we could not abandon,” Amy writes.

They see it through — and you are right there with them. And despite all the obstacles, from an ex-wife and family who need them at home, to health issues and uncooperative winds, weather, and currents, Amy and Phil not only chase the wind to fulfill their dream, but succeed in catching it and telling the tale.

Don’t expect a lot of flowery language and poetic descriptions of this three-year trek. What you will get, though, is a 100-percent, hands-on, authentic account of bluewater sailing.

Whether you are a coastal cruiser, bluewater cruiser, sailing novice, or just enjoy reading about a great adventure, you are guaranteed to enjoy sharing Amy, Phil, and Stewart’s journey across the deep blue sea.

Back To Top


Hard Aground…Again: Inspiration for the Navigationally Challenged and Spiritually Stuck

by Eddie Jones. (Winoca Press, 2006; 148 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Kristen Brochmann, New York, N.Y.

In Hard Aground . . . Again, Eddie Jones sends dispatches from the creeks, mudflats and sounds of the Carolina coast. The chapters are gathered from his magazine columns and can be read as separate stories. Fans of Dave Barry will understand the southern comic voice that Eddie uses very well. He is part good ol’ boy and part tent-revival preacher, telling stories about hapless navigation, cranky outboards, and other cruising foibles and drawing life lessons from them. He tells these stories in an easy conversational tone, as if the reader were sitting next to him on the rusted Wal-Mart lawn chairs that he uses for deck seats while watching the sun go down over the swamp grass and hummocks.

In the prologue he calls himself a “recovering boataholic” who wishes “boating wasn’t my passion.” His dreams of blue water and distant islands are grounded by a large family and a small bank account. But he lives the dream as much as he can in whatever boat he can borrow from friends or “borrow” from the bank. He makes the best of tough situations that occur frequently, mostly because of his lackluster navigation.

When the bank takes back a boat, he makes do with a friend’s Sunfish. That his anchorage is a mud flat or that he seems to hit every sandbar and crab pot in the Neuse River leaves him undaunted. He is the cheapest guy in the marina, known well by the gas dock owner and waitress at the local diner. These setbacks inspire him to see the larger picture as reflected in his Christian faith. He reminds himself that Saint Paul, in his cruise around the Mediterranean, had to swim to shore more than once after a shipwreck. The point is that “running aground is nothing to be ashamed of, but staying stuck is.”

He applies lessons to each story. Talking about his experiences with VHF and NOAA weather reports, he says, “intercessory prayer can be a little like the VHF radio,” and he offers a list of tips on radio use, many of which “can be applied to your prayer life as well.”

The invocations to prayer and Christian life lessons are not for everyone. Some do not go to the nautical bookshelf for Christian meditation and prayer focus. But if readers want their humor straight, they can skip the last few paragraphs and still get a good yarn with a Carolina flavor. And besides, a little prayer and Scripture can’t hurt. You never know from where inspiration might come.

Back To Top


A Year In Flagrante — A log of Nautical Near-Missives

by Martin Cartwright, Illustrations by Don Seed (Glover’s Yard Publishing, Great Britain, 2007; 85 pages; $18.04)
Reviewed by Susan Lynn Kingsbury, Moreno Valley, Calif.

A Year in Flagrante is a collection of illustrated satirical correspondence sent to Captain Glover over a year’s worth of time. You’ll read responses from the powers that be — whether marine insurance chairmen, yacht club certification officers, marine supply salespersons or magazine editors — to Glover’s wild escapades and letters of complaint. Be prepared: the letters are blunt and scathing. Still, the imaginary Captain Glover remains an outrageous, shameless, extreme violator of all the rules — and he never apologizes or admits to being in the wrong. Instead, he is increasingly indignant.

Author Cartwright apparently is appealing to the maverick hidden inside some of us, the ones who say, “It’s not my fault!” or can’t figure out why bad things always happen to them.

Both the letters and illustrations are presented in a rebellious way, perhaps to remind us that these letters are simply parodies. Cartwright uses puns — plays on words — to draw the readers’ attention to the total nonsensicalness of the correspondence. Addresses like “Blackball Creek,” “Damforeigner Straat,” “Little Jobsworth” and authorities with names such as “Joy Forall,” Hugh Stickler,” and “Jack Blower” are used throughout the text. Likewise, the cartoon-like illustrations are further exaggerations of the brazen theme.

If you are looking for a light read this is a good “boat book” for you. But it’s not for everyone. Some may not find the “Benny Hill” slapstick-type humor tickles their funny bone.

Back To Top


The Why Book of Sailing: The Curious Sailor’s Guide to the Science of Sailing and Seamanship

by Scott Welty (Burford Books, 2007; 179 pages; $16.95)
Reviewed by Donald Launer, Forked River, NJ

In The Why Book of Sailing, author Scott Welty tackles the challenge of explaining the science of physics, as related to sailing — without the heavy concentration on mathematics that usually goes along with that subject. He translates this science into layman terms in an enjoyable manner that doesn’t make the non-scientific reader feel intimidated. Although I was educated in classical physics — along with the subject’s associated mathematics —I found this book to be a breath of fresh air, and the explanations accurate and entertaining.

Sailors know that the forces of nature — the forces of physics – affect their boats in many ways. On the water, wind, tide, current, gravity, and many other natural phenomena exist in a world of dynamic and constant change; and in this world the author presents Archimedes’ principals of flotation, moving through wind and water, forces and torque, navigation and piloting, on-board electricity, optics, and environmental concerns. Scott Welty looks at the sailboat through the eyes of a popular scientist and explains the scientific reasons why the boat behaves as it does, all done with clarity and ample explanatory illustrations that will help all sailors be more in tune with their boats and the water around them.

Time-starved readers can open the book at random and, in a few minutes, read a short and concise explanation of something they have always wondered about, without worrying about continuity reading — or they can use the index to access a specific question or topic. Author Welty also supplies a listing of websites in the back of the book for additional information.

Not surprisingly, Scott Welty is a recently retired teacher of physics who now is a full-time sailor and liveaboard. While cruising his 30-foot Enee Marie, he also finds time to write for Sailing and Ocean Navigator. When ashore, which is infrequent, he makes his home in Chicago, Illinois.

If you are at all curious about things nautical, The Why Book of Sailing guarantees to answer your questions in an enjoyable and accurate fashion.

Back To Top


The Mariner’s Book of Days — 2008 calendar

by Peter H. Spectre (Sheridan House, 2007; 112 pages; $13.95)
Reviewed by Kristen Brochmann, New York, NY

Bookstores’shelves start filling up with calendars and daybooks this time of year. For sailors, there are many to choose from, including ones featuring gorgeous photos of vintage ships or exotic shores and waters. But Peter H. Spectre offers the sailor something different in his The Mariner’s Book of Days — sheer entertainment and diversion. The right-hand page has the days of the week with a nautical event noted for each day. The left page has old engravings, sea shanty verses, log entries or whatever Peter has come up with. Sometimes the week has a theme. May 8 notes that on that date in 1701 William Kidd was put on trial for piracy. The left-hand page has an engraving of a fearsome pirate with two pistols and a mean eye, a shanty about Kidd, laws from a pirate ship, a quote from Mark Twain about pirates and, just for the heck of it, a log entry from Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation.

Each week offers something new. The reader can browse and see what naval disaster happened on any day or view glossaries of terms. The week of September 29 has a seaman’s list of a week’s worth of meals aboard a 19th century clipper ship. There follows a glossary for terms like duff, scouse, mush, Cape Cod turkey, and other mysteries of the seaman’s table. (My favorite: “Spithead pheasant (aka, one-eyed steak) kipper.”)

The first week of December has the lyrics to the U.S. Maritime Service along with a quote from Emerson, “The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.” Conrad is quoted for a week devoted to anchors and rodes. “From first to last, the seaman’s thoughts are very much concerned with his anchors.”

Each week usually includes a passage from a ship’s log or a sailor’s account. One week, a barely literate ship’s butcher notes the cook being flogged twice on the same day “for being saucy.” Another week offers a sailor recounting how a first mate was laughed at when he mistook “the thin spout of the ‘Killer’ for the bush dense vapour emitted by Sperm-Whale!”

The beautiful archaic language from poets and plain sailors is one of the joys of the book. There are familiar writers such as Kipling, Whitman, Crane, and Shakespeare, but many of the authors are unknown. Peter has mined deep in nautical libraries and brought back some strange and wonderful gems for the reader’s delight.

Back To Top


A Matter of Honor

by William C. Hammond (Cumberland House, 2007; 416 pages; $26.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Richard Cutler is everybody’s hero. Women readers will love him. Men will respect his strong character and code of ethics. It’s almost a shame that he’s a figment of our imaginations and that of first-time novelist William Hammond. Bill’s book, A Matter of Honor, the first of a series, introduces Richard Cutler as a young man from Massachusetts during the early years of the American Revolutionary War.

As a yet untested young man, Richard is recruited for the Continental Navy by John Paul Jones and offers us a well-researched look at this historical figure and several others in the events that unfold. Although he is a fictional character, Richard is a participant in or witness to several famous naval battles and other historical events.

Perhaps because he is a fictional character, it is easier to construe plausible reasons for having Richard in the room when Benjamin Franklin is negotiating with the French, and at the Battle of Yorktown fighting at the side of Alexander Hamilton. Perhaps no real sailor of the 1770s got around as easily as Richard Cutler. But then Richard Cutler had “connections” that make him a very interesting individual indeed. We are fortunate that the U.S. actually won the Revolutionary War without Richard’s participation.

Author Bill Hammond takes a good long look at the international events swirling around this nascent country’s fight for independence. He makes it clear that it is practically a miracle that the leaders of the U.S. won our independence, dealing as they were with a frightful lack of money, unity, military training, and equipment, not to mention a severe lack of food, medical care, and clothing for our soldiers and sailors. This book reminds us that it is a wonder that we are able to fly the Stars and Stripes today. This achievement was earned in spite of the odds against all the true Richard Cutlers of the 1770s.

With an improved appreciation of the events surrounding the Revolutionary War, and a strong personal interest in the future of Richard Cutler, I look forward to further books in the series by Bill. A Matter of Honor is not all war and history. There is romance, sex and relationships, complicated family responsibilities, and ties involving a family that spans both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and both sides of the war. There’s wind of the impending revolution in France and the unrest in the Caribbean, where the real financial interests of the time were located.

This is a story well told on many fronts. Sailors and historians will appreciate the naval scenes and battles. Every reader will appreciate the background and fresh insight on the events of the American Revolutionary War told from several points of view. Fans of historical fiction will want to begin following the adventures of Richard Cutler now and as this series unfolds.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2006

Reviews From 2006

February 2006 Newsletter

April 2006 Newsletter

June 2006 Newsletter

August 2006 Newsletter

October 2006 Newsletter

December 2006 Newsletter


J/Boats; Sailing to Success

by Anthony Dalton (MBI Publishing Company, 2005; 156 pages; $34.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards Sequim, Wash.

“I just wanted a sailboat for myself and my family, but along the way it turned into a great adventure…” These words by Rod Johnstone capture the spirit of the J/Boats company. In this book, Anthony Dalton has compiled a wealth of material and great photos that recount the adventure, from the founding of J/boats through the company’s growth into one of the world’s best known yacht vendors.

This is not a book about boat design, although the design concepts incorporated throughout the J/boats yachts would provide ample material for such a book. Rather, Anthony Dalton focuses on the people behind the success of J/Boats. It began as a family affair and is still very much so today, 30-plus years later.

The first third of the book recounts the founding of J/boats by Rod and Bob Johnstone, and the remarkable success of the J/24, their first boat. This story began slowly and modestly in 1974 when Rod set out to build “the largest, fastest boat we could build in the confines of our garage.” The 24-foot boat was built on a shoestring, and it was not until the spring of 1976 that the hull was eased out through the 9-foot-wide garage door, and later christened Ragtime.

At the end of a wonderfully successful racing season, Rod approached Everett Pearson of TPI and negotiated an agreement to have TPI manufacture a boat based on Ragtime, using her hull as the plug for the initial tooling. This very synergistic relationship with TPI continues today. Bob joined Rod in forming a partnership, and thus was born J/Boats. Bob led the sales and marketing efforts while Rod devoted his energies to design and production coordination.

The middle third of this book highlights the more than three dozen designs (to date) from J/Boats. It provides insights into the thinking behind the various designs, which ranged from cruisers to all-out racers. This section also discusses the roles of the sons of Bob and Rod, who joined the company during its rapid expansion during the 1980s, and how the family managed the challenge of succession planning.

The final third of the book highlights some of the extensive voyages by owners of J/Boats yachts. Many have circumnavigated, and others have cruised their J/Boats to high latitudes. Anthony goes to some lengths to assure the reader that J/Boats are not just pretty faces on the racecourse.

Anthony Dalton has captured the enterprising spirit behind the success of J/Boats. This book will appeal to everyone with an interest in fine sailboats and the companies behind them. It will be of particular interest to fans of J/Boats, including my wife and me, who cruise and race our J/32 here in the Northwest.

Back To Top


Tunnell’s Boys

by Tony Junker, (iUniverse, 2005; 285 pages; $28.95, $18.95 softcover — also available as an eBook)
Reviewed by Michael Maxfield, Gatesville, Texas

Brutal storms, fair winds, tyrannical captains, mutinous crew, ample danger and suspense. All of these classic elements of a seafaring tale are found in Tunnell’s Boys by Tony Junker. Also to be found are love and friendship, soul-searching discourses on the Spanish-American War, insight into Philadelphia Quaker lifestyles and beliefs, elaborate accounts of the lives of pilots on the Delaware Bay and River, and even a hurricane — all combined into one engaging sailing yarn.

This historical fiction is set in the last decades of the 1800s, the waning days of commercial sailing and during the buildup to the Spanish-American War. It recounts the story of Peter Long, a young aspiring writer who signs on with the pilot schooner Ebe W. Tunnell (an actual pilot boat of that era) as an apprentice pilot on the Delaware Bay and River.

The story is told from the perspective of Long in 1898, some ten years after his apprenticeship. Pilot Captain Long is assigned to pilot the schooner Hannah, and discovers her captain to be none other than Ebenezer Soule, a friend and rival from his apprenticeship days on the Tunnell. When a growing storm causes Long to miss the take-off boat at the mouth of the Delaware Bay he is forced to continue on with the Hannah and her mutinous crew on their sail to Barbados, right through the war zone of Spanish Cuba.

The book often reads like two stories in one. Its author jumps back and forth between the 1898 Hannah voyage and the apprenticeship years of 1888-92. The majority of the book is the story of Long and Soule on the Tunnell during their apprenticeships. The forced trip on Hannah quickly takes second stage and becomes a platform for Long’s recollections of the past…while also throwing in its own interluding plot twists. Though I found this jumping back and forth between past (1888) and present (1898) a little disconcerting at first, the plot lines did eventually mesh together into an enjoyable story.

This book is clearly written by a sailor, for sailors, and any novice would be more than a little confused by all the nautical terms. Even many knowledgeable sailors could find some of the archaic and regional terms a little confusing. One might wish for a small glossary, and maybe even a schematic drawing of a schooner’s floor- and sail plans.

Anyone looking for an entertaining sailing yarn with which to pass a few hours, or looking for a little insight into the world of Quaker Philadelphia and Delaware Bay pilots in the late 19th century, will find that Tunnell’s Boys serves either purpose.

Back To Top


The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers

by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel MacNaughton (W.W. Norton & Company, 2005; 528 pages; $250.00)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

A most amazing book arrived for review recently. The box weighed 8 pounds. This isn’t the sort of book you can hold on your lap or take along on the bus for light reading. The 528-page coffee-table size masterwork is not so much a book as an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia of yacht designers in one volume. Called The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, this impressive work was the dream of Lucia del Sol Knight, Bob Knight, and Dan MacNaughton. It was jointly written by more than 80 experts and was 10 years in the making.

It was worth the wait. It was even worth the weight. It may even be worth the price, a stiff $250. It’s a reference book that should be in every library so boaters everywhere have look-’em-up access. Not every boater will want to own a personal copy.

This masterful compilation includes designers you’ve never heard of from North America and the rest of the world along with all your favorites. No one was left out. It includes 525 designers from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. It includes designers for sail and power. It is an incredible reference tool containing an excellent index if the alphabetical presentation by name doesn’t help you find the individual you’re looking for.

I flipped through the pages in awe. You can’t just start with Bjarne Aas and read through to Douglas Zurn, as you might when reading a novel. Well, you could maybe, but I didn’t have the stamina. I’d still be on the letter D, with Oscar Wilhelm Dahlstrom, and this review would never get done!

This is a reference tool, not a novel. But it’s the most beautiful reference tool you’ll ever see. From its elegant cover to its gorgeous photos and illustrations of breathtaking beauties, it’s a heart-stopper. Paging through causes murmurs, sighs, and occasional gasps. I expect that you won’t be able to read it quietly.

This encyclopedia simply must be accessible to boaters everywhere through libraries, yacht clubs, and marina collections. Of course, it will also wind up in some private collections…possibly yours. I’m certainly not giving up MY copy! So ask your local nautical source to buy this book. Make a yacht club book fund. Talk to your local librarian.

When the Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers arrives, don’t hurt your back lifting it. Walk carefully to the closest sturdy table. Open it reverently. Try to suppress your oohs and aahhs if you’re in a library reading room. Others will be trying to concentrate on their studies, you know.

Back To Top


Fix It and Sail

by Brian Gilbert (International Marine, 2006; 192 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Good Old Boat author Brian Gilbert has just written the sailboat restoration book for Everyman. You may not recall him, but Everyman awoke one day after having a dream of sailing a boat of his own. His dream wasn’t of a fancy yacht, but he did want a sailboat. At Good Old Boat, we call this “the affordable dream.” In Fix it and Sail: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Restore a Small Sailboat on a Shoestring, Brian tells how to achieve the affordable dream.

Like Everyman, Brian had family responsibilities, a mortgage, car payments, and other financial obligations. So he bought a fixer-upper sailboat and fixed ‘er up. In doing so, he learned much about what not to do and discovered some clever and inexpensive ways to achieve his sailing goal.

In Fix it and Sail, Brian shares the good tips he’s learned and spells out where the pitfalls are. He is forthright in his recollections of the mistakes he made and what he learned as a result. In doing so, of course, he spares his readers from making the same discoveries the hard way. Brian is handy with tools, so don’t be misled by his tales of mistakes. These are “learning experiences” Everyman could appreciate. There are lessons for all of us in this book.

Fix it and Sail is partly a book full of fix-it tips which are applicable in a general sense to any project boat, and partly a book about the specific challenges Brian encountered with his boat, complete with details about how he solved each one. In this second case, this is a book from which a do-it-yourselfer can take heart. Brian is a regular guy, an Everyman. Nonetheless, look what he accomplished; it tells you, You can too.

This is an honest heart-to-heart sharing of what one do-it-yourselfer learned. It is accompanied by a vast section on resources that will help others who would do likewise. Brian spells out the timeframe and the costs of his project, he lists useful websites and books, and he includes a section on terminology and tips for the uninitiated.

Fix it and Sail is a you-can-do-this book. If you’ve wondered whether you’ve got the time, energy, skills, or perseverance, this is the book for you. Brian Gilbert, also known as Everyman, says yes, you do.

Back To Top


Seaworthy

by Robert A. Adriance (McGraw-Hill, 2005; 274 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Greg Mansfield, Washington, No. Carolina

Here is my choice for a textbook to use in a boating safety class, because other boaters have made mistakes and we can learn from them. Seaworthy is subtitled Essential lessons from BoatU.S.’s 20-Year Case File of Things Gone Wrong. Bob Adriance edited the BoatU.S. Seaworthy newsletter for 20 years. He collected case studies from the archives and presented them in this book along with his advice and commentary.

Boating hazards from collision to lightning are covered using examples from insurance claims. The author organized the case studies by categories that include avoiding collisions, preventing fires, staying afloat, seamanship and various weather hazards such as lightning and winter storage.

Bob describes the incidents and discusses what went wrong, and what could have been done to prevent their occurrence. Many of the incidents include sobering pictures of what happened. Bob also gives advice on what we can do to better prepare ourselves to avoid becoming an insurance case. The advice he gives can help with selection of equipment, attention to maintenance, and careful operation.

I particularly appreciated the attention to securing a boat at the dock and storage on land. Many of the problems that befall our boats occur when we are not with them — four out of five sinkings happen at the dock. And improper storage during winter haulout can damage a boat and its equipment.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m sure that you will too.

Back To Top


Miss Inclined

a music CD by Eileen Quinn (2005; 46:26 minutes; $14.95)
Reviewed by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Mont.

After 11 years cruising with her husband aboard their Bayfield 36, Canadian singer/songwriter Eileen Quinn is still having fun…or so one hopes, despite the litany of inconveniences and troubles cited in her folksy songs about the cruising life. She’d have us believe she’s not really griping, just having fun with words and tunes and making light of the darker side of life afloat. This, her fifth CD, continues to find a little mirth in every disaster, and a little meaning in the bigger picture of why she, or any other soul out sailing, chooses to be there.

The first cut is titled “Don’t Make Me Dock,” which, unfortunately, reinforces the stereotype of the female first mate who can’t steer.

please baby please…
I am down on my knees
begging you please
please baby please don’t
don’t make me dock

But then she injects humor, and we feel relieved:

left a trail of broken pilings
and dockhands in the drink
taken [sic] out the pumpout station
raised a royal stink

Most of the other songs, however, are more introspective and wondering than in her previous four CDs. In “Going Home” she looks forward to flying home to see her mom and dad, sisters and brothers.

of all the significant others
we tell the same old stories
and roll laughing on the floor

Of course she also must endure the questions about her unconventional lifestyle, like when is she going to grow up, come home and get a “dental plan, mortgage, pension, lawn”? When she says goodbye to all at the airport, she realizes she is indeed going home — to her boat. And that’s a nice feeling, having that sort of confidence in yourself and contentment in your place.

But one begins to detect a change in Quinn’s tone, creeping into the lines here and there. In “Always a Choice,” she challenges those afraid to leave the security of their shoreside lives, as if they’re all miserable drones.

and a really bad day
hits once or twice a year
so go sit in the basement
have another beer
you’ve got yourself a mortgage
a day job, a wife
may not love it right now
but you’ve got yourself a life

but there is always a choice…

It’s easy to feel smug, sitting in the cockpit in some warm-weather anchorage, where your biggest problem is deciding whether to work on the broken water pump or just read another dime novel from the laundromat exchange. But does such a life really have more meaning than that of the husband with a mortgage? One is tempted to ask if that Bayfield 36 is free and clear.

At times, Quinn’s lyrics seem to grow strident. “Where Have All The Pirates Gone?” voices anger and a sense of betrayal by those who are no longer cruising.

Jimmy Buffett bought a trawler
he’ll talk about the seven seas
with anyone who’ll sit
by his side and buy his drinks
and buy his charming bullshit

Taken collectively, the 12 songs on Miss Inclined touch on the many aspects of cruising, from celebrating freedom from the workaday world to fearing storms to wondering why we have come to this gypsy life.

Perhaps Quinn sums it all up in her song “Cruising Too Long”:

these are the signs…
all the islands look the same
West Marine knows our name
we haven’t cut our hair this year
all our t-shirts mention beer
cruising far too long
we’ve been cruising far too long

Hey, she said it. Not me.

Eileen Quinn’s music is available online at http://www.eileenquinn.com or by calling 1-800-289-6923.

Back To Top


The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction

by Meade Gougeon (Gougeon Brothers, Inc., 2005; 406 pages; $36.40)
Reviewed by Joe Rahn, Lakeland Boatworks, Middleville, Mich.

The fifth edition of The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction is a comprehensive reference book that should be added to your boatbuilding library, whether you are just starting to work on your dreamboat or are a professional boatbuilder. This fifth edition by the Gougeon Brothers is based on the authors’ 30 years of practical boatbuilding experience and their own research on wood and West System epoxy formulas.

From lofting to finishing, the Gougeon Brothers’ book explains in lay terms the various elements necessary to construct a wood/epoxy boat. Alternative construction methods, such as cold molding, strip planking, and utilization of composite materials is discussed in detail so the prospective boatbuilder can understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method. By including the results of their research on the physical properties of epoxy, especially as it relates to fatigue and stress issues in wood/epoxy boats, the reader can make an informed decision as to whether a wood/epoxy vessel will perform in his or her climate and aquatic environment.

The authors use a rather unique method for estimating labor and construction costs of a planned boatbuilding project. Rather than estimate the costs in the traditional time-plus-materials formula, the Gougeon Brothers use a cost-per-pound method. While we have not used this method in our own shop before, it is certainly worth a second glance, since estimating total construction costs of a one-off project can be tricky at best.

The text is augmented by sufficient figures and charts that give the reader a step-by-step guide for laying out and putting together his or her own boat The Photo Gallery section shows, in full color, some of the finer wood/epoxy vessels designed and built by individuals known in the wooden boatbuilding trade. If you thought wood/epoxy construction was limited to stitch and glue prams and dinghies, you might be surprised to find photos of a 60-foot, 1/8-scale model of the Titanic or a sailboat boat large enough to carry a pipe organ in the aft cabin.

The fifth edition of The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction is, in my opinion, required reading for anyone considering the construction of a wooden boat that utilizes epoxy as the bonding material. This edition is comprehensive and thorough in discussing the benefits and advantages of building boats utilizing wood as the structural material and epoxy as the bonding agent. While the authors are distributors of West System epoxy resins and hardeners, the focus of the book is on the boatbuilding process as opposed to the marketing of their own brand. It will be used as a reference in our facility and should be considered a valuable manual for wooden boatbuilders, young and old, novice or professional.

Back To Top


Taking on the World

by Dame Ellen MacArthur (McGraw-Hill Publishers, 2005; 353 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Tom Jackson, Port Hueneme, Calif.

Even if you are one of those who know nothing about sailing, or think of sailing as “the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while going nowhere at great expense,” you will be absolutely nuts about this book. Narrated beautifully and eloquently in her own words, almost tack for tack, have your foul-weather gear handy, you’ll need it!

Since she was a little girl growing up in rural England (far from the ocean) and going on to sail around the U.K. singlehanded at the age of 19 in a 21-foot boat, this little girl dreamed large dreams. She continued on, winning the Route de Rhum, a transatlantic singlehanded race from France to the Caribbean, then to a record-setting time around the world singlehandeding in the Vende Globe, the World Series and Super Bowl of sailboat racing, then to the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest time around the world in a crewed sailboat, at the age of 22. Rushing through this book, your foul-weather gear at the ready, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Ellen MacArthur, a cute as a bug, 100-pound 22-year-old ball of fire is an almost verbatim powerful personification of the poem “If,” by Rudyard Kipling. From the first verse, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” to the last, “Yours is the earth and all that’s in it, and what is more you will be a man (woman) my son (daughter).” Great book to read on your next cruise. Especially, if you happen to be cruising the Southern California Channel Islands.

Back To Top


Captain Annabel

by Neal Evan Parker (Down East Books, 2004; 32 pages; $15.95)
Review by Teiga Martin (age 10), Bremen, Maine

What would you like to be when you grow up? Annabel knows that she wants to be a sailor. Any kid who is attracted to the sea will love to read Captain Annabel. It’s an excellent book for children from age 3 to third grade, sailor or non-sailor, boy or girl.

As Annabel grows up she moves from one job to the next, learning all that she can about boats. And what a great ending when Annabel pilots her new tugboat into her homeport with the name Papa painted on the bow.

The illustrations of boats are proportional and looked nice while I was reading. As Annabel grows up, it’s nice to see her father grow older with her. Also, the cameo pictures within the illustrations were cool, and the reappearing cats and seals were fun to find.

Captain Annabel is a calm book, but it is still interesting — just like the sea.

Back To Top


A Yachtsman’s Eye: The Glen S. Foster Collection of Marine Paintings

edited by Alan Granby (Independence Seaport Museum and W. B. Norton Co., 2005; 248 pages, $75.00)
Reviewed by Corky Rosan, Buffalo, NY

Wrestling sheets while wrestling the cancer that killed him, he’d won the international 5.5-Meter dinghy championship. He’d been a beloved force in the legendary New York Yacht Club, and a booster, adviser, and crew for America’s Cup challengers. He’d introduced America to the Finn, that most temperamental of all Olympic dinghies. He’d crewed with the famous from Conner to Coutts, competed from Stockholm to Sydney — often earning winner’s laurels — yet was never too busy or ill to consult, teach, and support in the sport he loved. Plus, Glenn S. Foster, world-class sailor, stockbroker and art connoisseur had collected a king’s ransom of marine art. He’d acquired the means, the education, and an eye as competitive in art as it was in sailing. Celebrating Foster’s unerring artistic tastes, this astonishing array of great old boats was edited by his close friend, knowledgeable art critic Alan Granby.

The term “marine art” covers a broad sea, from the angular watercolors of Marin to the dappled waterscapes of Monet, past the Dutch masters, beyond the Bayeux Tapestry, way back to the stylized fleet of a female Pharaoh four thousand years ago. But to Foster, “marine art” instead meant the past two centuries of outstanding American and British wooden boats painted in characteristic action, paintings that evoke the scent of breeze, sway of deck, creak of spar, arch of spray, and vastness of clouds — all the pleasurable details of the actual sailing experience.

Not for Foster impressionism, expressionism, abstractions, or theatrical shipwrecks, not Turner’s burnished mists or Homer’s stoic crews, nor kitsch clipper ships under clouds of sail or classic Dutch seascapes. A few pictures do show men-o’-war wreathed in fiery broadsides. But Foster preferred sunlit, well-trimmed, identifiable, accurately rigged yachts and ships in Bristol condition, often heeled under dramatic skies. Based on seamanlike knowledge, the realist artists understood rigs, knew when to reef, why to luff, what to trim, where to roost. Knowing the details of sailing helped them excel in paintings about sailing.

So, what’s not to like about this book? Nothing, unless a problem hides within the collection itself. Great art can be great marine art, but this collection is great marine art, by and large (sailor’s talk!) — but not great art, not the likes of, say, Van Gogh. Clarity of image trumps visual challenges, for Foster often preferred representational painters of memorable yachts — e.g., William Bradford, James. E. Butterworth, Robert Salmon, and Fitz Hugh Lane. This makes for a happy and gorgeous coffee-table book. While shore-bound, sailors viewing it will find hope in their dreams and pleasure in Foster’s reality. That’s why you need it.

Back To Top


The Last Voyage of the Karluk

by Robert Bartlett (a downloadable MP3 audiobook narrated by Frank Holden, 7 hours; Rattling Books, 2005; $24.95 US; $29.95 Can)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

This book, originally published in 1916, is Captain Bob Bartlett’s story of the loss of the sailing vessel Karluk during an arctic expedition that had begun in 1913. It is a gripping tale of being locked in the ice off north Alaska’s Point Barrow in the Beaufort Sea, about losing the ship to the ice pack well above the Arctic Circle, and about the survival activities that spared at least some of the crew.

One of the most interesting parts of this tale is the captain’s 700-mile journey in search of help. He, one other man, and a team of sled dogs crossed the frozen ocean and Siberian coast on foot. While these two are on their long trek, the remaining surviving crewmembers winter over on an island in the hope that these two will reach civilization and send a means of rescue.

Captain Bartlett tells of the Eskimos he encounters on this journey and offers observations about the slice of life as he sees it in the early 1900s. He makes vivid a Siberian Eskimo culture which is not likely to have survived to this day.

This is a downloadable MP3 audiobook that can be purchased online from Rattling Books. Rattling Books was founded in 2003 to produce new and traditional audio productions of Canadian literature. For more, visit their website http://www.rattlingbooks.com.

Back To Top


Well-favored Passage: The Magic of Lake Huron’s North Channel

a Cruising Guide by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom (4th edition, Sea Fever Gear Publications, 2006; 172 pages; $39.95)
Reviewed by Jim Martin, Chesterton, Ind.

Some books are written for money; some are written for love. This book was not written for money. It is a cruising guide, but far more than that. More, because the North Channel is more than a place to cruise. Marjorie Cahn Brazer, author of the first three editions, put it well: The North Channel is a state of mind. It is flight of the soul to a distant haunt — of peace, of timeliness, of mystery, of tempest, of aching beauty. This book covers all that.

Obviously, as a cruising guide, the book contains courses and distances, harbor descriptions, hazards and obstacles, prevailing weather, and the like. These are well done and comprehensive, with many splendid photos and sketches to supplement the descriptions. Together with the government charts, this book can get you through the majority of the North Channel safely, but more importantly, it will fill you with the desire to go and explore this marvelous area. While even the authors acknowledge that the Great Lakes Cruising Club log books and charts are navigationally more comprehensive, though ten times more expensive, this book contains far more of the romance of the North Channel and it is far more likely to inspire a visit. Readers who have been to the North Channel, even many times, will learn vast amounts of its history and lore, which simply cruising will never reveal to them.

The authors succeed in conveying to the readers what makes the North Channel a place that is seldom visited only once. Its beauty, its geology, its remoteness, and its people are all elements that make it what it is, and the authors include lyrical descriptions of all. Where else would you find that hawberries, and the ice cream made from them, are found only on Manitoulin Island? Or that Farquhar’s ice cream is the best in Canada? Or that Moiles Harbor is named after brothers who stole an entire sawmill? Geological history, people history, and even recipes make this book unique in comprehensively singing a hymn of praise to an area well deserving of one.

For anyone thinking of cruising the North Channel, and for anyone returning with a desire to know more about where they have been, this book is a gem.

Back To Top


Distant Shores: Volume 5, (Greece and Turkey, Part 2)

a DVD by Paul and Sheryl Shard (Shard Multimedia, 2005; 4 hours; $19.95 U.S., $24.95 Can)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Paul and Sheryl Shard are professional videographers who tour the world by sailboat. I’m not sure which came first: sailing and the need to record it for the rest of us, or video skills and the desire to circumnavigate, recording the voyage as they went. No matter. It was a happy concurrence of two people with good skills, a concurrence that has been well appreciated by those who have been “sailing with the Shards” since they began selling copies of their sailing productions in the late 1980s.

The newest DVD, Distant Shores: Volume 5 (Special Sailor’s Edition), is huge in many ways. There are nine busy episodes, each 30 minutes in length, along with some additional commentaries and tips. This DVD will keep you entertained for hours. The previous disks in the series include the Western Mediterranean, the Central Mediterranean, Venice and the Adriatic, and Greece and Turkey, Part 1.

The market for this DVD is much broader than our smallish sailing niche. The Shards are dedicated sailors who built their own Classic 37, Two-Step. And they are savvy marketing professionals who realize that they’re creating a travelogue series with a wider appeal than the potential sailing audience. Even the Special Sailor’s Edition version of Volume 5 is probably 90-percent travel-focused and 10-percent sailing. The travel information is, however, of great interest to sailors who will be visiting the Shards’ travel areas. Volume 5 offers what this dynamic twosome saw, where they went, and the people and events that made these places special. They offer a touch of history and cultural insight before shoving off to the next destination. It will be of interest to many whether they arrive in Greece and Turkey by sailboat, cruise ship, or airplane.

At Good Old Boat, we remind our readers (through our Cruising Memories articles, Reflections, the center spread, and so on) about the joy of sailing. In this way we all are reminded of the real reason for working on our boats: so we can sail. The Shards take it one step further. They remind us why we sail: so we can visit interesting places and meet interesting people.

With their very professional video presentations, Paul and Sheryl Shard invite us along on a world cruise. It’s a trip well worth taking. For more, visit their website at http://www.searoom.com/shard.

Back To Top


Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual

by Don Casey (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2005; 896 pages; $59.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards Sequim, Wash.

This is really six books in one. Five of them represent Don Casey’s considerable expertise in inspecting, maintaining and enhancing the mechanical and electrical systems of a sailboat. The sixth, a 160-page book on troubleshooting marine diesels by Peter Compton, was added for completeness. All in all, it makes a great addition to any sailor’s library.

Appropriately enough, the first “book,” titled “Inspecting the Aging Sailboat,” concludes with a nice recap on how to be your own surveyor and how to choose and work with a professional if you decide to proceed with a purchase. I really like the content and presentation of this book; it would have helped us to be better prepared for the first inspection of our boat, even though she was relatively new.

The next “books” on hull and deck repairs and refinishing are quite complete and very well illustrated. They should help give any owner the confidence to take on more and more boat projects. We all expect some age-related deterioration in our vessels and thus will expect to benefit from the sections on refinishing. We may not expect to need the stuff on major repairs to hull and deck, but it’s all there if and/or when needed.

The “book” on electronics is appropriately called “Sailboat Electrics Simplified.” Don leads off with a good note on safety and then delivers a fine primer on the basics. He continues with more details on batteries, wire and circuits, troubleshooting, charging systems and, finally, AC systems.

Peter Compton’s “book” on Troubleshooting Marine Diesels is as comprehensive as one could ever expect in a 160-page treatment. He begins with a short section on surveying the engine that will again be a great help to a first time boat buyer. The basic sub-systems of the engine are nicely treated and integrate well into the section on routine maintenance. The section on troubleshooting includes some very helpful flow diagrams to guide the reader through a logical work process.

Since the focus is on sailboats, Don finishes off with a nice section on canvaswork and sail repair.

This book will be a great addition to any sailor’s reference library. It will help any first time boat buyer be better prepared for that first detailed inspection. The clarity of writing and excellent illustrations will be appreciated by owners who want to take on more of their boat’s maintenance needs. By giving an owner a good understanding of all the steps involved in a project, this book may also help some owners decide which tasks they would prefer to hand over to a professional.

Back To Top


Cast Off for Catalina

a DVD directed by Ted Field and Mark Ritts (Mark Ritts Productions, Inc., 2005; 119 minutes; $29.95.)
Reviewed by Ed Verner, Plant City, Fla.

Catalina Island is 20 Miles from Long Beach, 70 miles from San Diego, and 31 miles from Marina Del Ray, California. If you have considered taking a sojourn there, this video is well worth your money. It is a professionally edited and well-photographed look at the features that would call to a boater. With pleasing narration, ambient sounds, and occasional use of music, the information is easy on the senses.

Cast Off for Catalina features an on-deck view of the island during a counter-clockwise circumnavigation, and includes information important to any boater wanting to follow in the film’s footsteps. There are clear images of notable landmarks and descriptions of the plentiful small anchorages and their holding bottoms. The harbor master of Avalon discusses the mooring amenities and protocols, and some additional features from the island’s tourist sites. There is also good footage of the wildlife and feature photography from onboard looking to shore, as well as onshore coverage of various anchorages.

The DVD, which is not a sailor’s guide per se, would be equally valuable to a powerboater, a sailor, or a tourist hopping a ferry over for a short stay. Yet it is geared toward those who would wish to be on the water, as the greater bulk of the information is shown from onboard a center cockpit split rig. Plus, some of the videography and map animations by Jack Joe are really helpful in giving a feel for “getting there” as well as what you will see when you arrive. Additional inputs from Bill McNeely, author of Cruising Catalina Island, help paint the picture of this ripe overnight sailing destination.

Back To Top


Voyages to Windward

by Elsie Hulsizer (Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd., 2006; 216 pages; $36.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.

The west coast of Vancouver Island is a grand, lightly visited cruising ground. Most sailors cruise this coast by doing a circumnavigation, going up the inside, and then sailing down the outside with the prevailing northwest winds abaft the beam. Elsie Hulsizer and her husband, Steve, did not have the vacation time required to do this during their working years. Instead, they would sail out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then work their way up the coast of Vancouver Island, sailing against the prevailing summer winds. Hence the title of her book.

The first nine chapters take the reader up the coast as far as the Brooks Peninsula, with chapters for each of the major sounds along the coast and Elsie and Steve’s personal experiences exploring intimate little coves, hiking up streams or walking on beaches. The final chapter, “Voyage Home,” captures the bittersweet feelings that often accompany the end of a great cruise.

Elsie is an accomplished photographer, and her pictures make this book enjoyable for a wide audience. However, what impressed me most was her deep appreciation for the history and diverse cultures of the island’s west coast. She and Steve formed strong friendships in many of the small communities along the coast; her book is further enriched by much of what they learned from these coastal residents.

We carry aboard a variety of cruising guides whenever we set sail on a cruise. At one end of the spectrum are what I think of as Pilot House Guides, the ones I reach for to refresh my memory about a tricky entrance to an anchorage or to find a protected cove nearby when the weather has turned foul. At the other end of the spectrum are the books that we read on a midwinter’s evening to begin dreaming about and planning our next cruise. Elsie’s book is a wonderful example of the latter. After reading this book, we too are now planning A Voyage To Windward.

Back To Top


Up the Creek: A Lifetime Spent Trying to be a Sailor

by Tony James (Seafarer Books/ Sheridan House, 2006; 279 pages; $14.95 U.S.A.; £9.95 U.K.)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon Antigo, Wisc.

As is true with many books, the last page of Up the Creek is devoted to a brief biography of author Tony James. From this we learn that Tony James is a freelance journalist and writer . . . author of over twenty books . . . writes regularly for thirty publications worldwide . . . (and) still doesn’t really know why he goes sailing. In the Foreword Stephen Swann states that James’ book is a kind of sailing memoir. Indeed it is. It recounts how his life has: A) revolved around boats since the age of eighteen; B) landed him in some relationships that were headed for the rocks from the get-go; and C) given him something to write about.

James’ first boat occupied a space in his parent’s garden and never saw water as long as he owned it. But the dream was there. After sailing on other people’s boats for a number of years he managed to acquire the first boat that he actually sailed. Built in 1900, Shamrock was a sixty-foot oyster dredger that had been extensively refitted and restored by the time James became its owner. Many years, boats, and misadventures later, James bought Kittiwake, and finally had what he calls a sensible boat that can be sailed easily and safely. What happened between Shamrock and Kittiwake fills in the rest of the story and helps the reader realize that it’s no wonder James doesn’t know why he sails.

The book is written in the first person, obviously, and at times seems a bit difficult to follow. This may be due to the fact that James is from England and the English writing style itself is somewhat different from that of American writers. In addition, the British sense of humor is a bit more tongue-in-cheek than what we’re used to in the U. S. But if one is willing to overlook these minor obstacles, Up the Creek can provide the reader with some food for thought as he/she is reminded of his/her own errors in thinking when it comes to matters nautical and personal.

Back To Top


Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners

by United States Power Squadrons (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2006; 160 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Glenn Kaufmann, Bloomington, Ind.

The first watercraft were probably rafts made from fallen logs tied together with primitive rope and knots.

This early quote in the United States Power Squadrons’ (USPS) new book on marlinespike seamanship makes it clear that the unspoken foundation of sailing is rope, the control of which is bought and paid for with knots. As a non-profit educational organization with 92 years of experience and the stated mission of making boating safer and more enjoyable, the USPS seems the perfect organization to develop a book focused on knots and rope work specifically for sailors.

With sheets, lines, halyards, painters, bell and bucket ropes everywhere, there are countless ways ropes and knots are used aboard any vessel. This new book covers them all, if not specifically by name, most certainly by application. Designed for anyone who needs to practice their knot work with a constant eye on the diagrams, the publisher has thoughtfully given the book a spiral binding so it will lie flat. The drawings are generous in size, and clearly marked, with each knot broken down into manageable components.

It is, in fact, the discussion of these components that is the book’s greatest asset. By providing a clear understanding of bitter ends, working ends, bights, turns, and loops, the reader walks away with the building blocks and understanding necessary to not only reproduce any knot, but to understand why it is a good fit for a particular application.

With constant references to the onboard, dockside, or safety applications of every knot, the book carefully shows how each knot, from the practical to the merely decorative, can be realistically applied to the reader’s own needs. The section on splicing/rope repair, often given short shrift in other books, is presented in a manner that highlights the importance of proper line maintenance and repair. Finally, the section on decorative knot work offers sound advice for tidying up your lines and generally putting your boat in Bristol condition.

Whether you are a novice sailor, or an old salt looking for a few new tricks, Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners is a great way to develop and improve your understanding of how knots and ropes work on your boat. The clear and concise diagrams make it easy to use and maintain the gear you’ve already got in ways that will keep you safe and save you time and money down the road.

Back To Top


Ice Blink: A Family Navigating Life’s Ice-Clogged Waters

a DVD produced by Gregory Roscoe (SeaWorthy Productions, 2006; 56:11 minutes; $17.95; http://www.iceblinksail.com)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

“Ice blink” is a name given to a white light seen on the horizon, especially on the underside of low clouds, due to reflection from a distant field of ice. This phenomenon has been used historically by the Inuit and northern explorers when navigating in polar regions.

Dave and Jaja Martin and their three children are modern northern explorers who traveled to Iceland and Norway on their 33-foot sailboat, Driver. They wrote a book about their four-year voyage, Into the Light: A Family’s Epic Journey. And now Gregory Roscoe, a friend and fellow sailor, has produced a DVD about this adventuresome family and named it Ice Blink: A Family Navigating Life’s Ice-Clogged Waters.

What a story it tells! Like the icebergs that surrounded them north of the Arctic Circle, there is more to the Martins than you might expect at first glance. They are not your typical sailors. They are not your typical parents. In fact, they are not your typical anything. And they’re proud of that. “We chose ‘different’ when making life’s choices,” they tell us in the movie. “If people say, ‘That’s impossible,’ we know we’re on the right track,” they say with the certainty that has come of experience.

Dave and Jaja are the sort of people who have gone beyond “the road less taken.” Since they married in 1988, they have been cutting a brand-new path for themselves and their children. All young people should view this DVD as they contemplate their future. It emphasizes, in a positive way, that if they are as creative as the Martins, they have many options in life they may not have considered, choices which counselors and parents could never suggest — choices that may make all the difference in their enthusiasm for living each day fully. Dave and Jaja Martin tell anyone who will listen that if they are creative and motivated, they need not become cogs; life can be a joyful adventure. It is not too late for those of us who have chosen more conventional paths to watch, learn, and enjoy the story of Dave and Jaja Martin…and perhaps even make course corrections in our own lives.

A very polished narrator tells us that the Martins are a conventional family doing unconventional things. Even now that they are land-based, having settled temporarily in Maine, the Martins are designing and building their own home. They have chosen a simple lifestyle because material possessions are not what motivate them. The Martins are not defined by what they have but rather by what they have done. There’s an important message in those words, a message that should be heard by people of all ages.

The Martins talk about what motivates them and about their travels afloat. They talk about goals and self-sufficiency. They say life is a blank canvas to be filled joyfully. Not someday. Now. They talk about making their own choices, not those dictated by the expectations of others. They talk about the role of spontaneity in their lives. And they talk about the reality of storms, occasional deprivations, and fear. Living aboard in polar regions has its discomforts, to be sure, but having gone through the low points makes the beauty of the region and the joy of the high points all the better. The necessity of personal expense and sacrifice, they tell us, make the rewards of every achievement much sweeter.

Ice Blink has relevance for people of all ages, sailors and non-sailors alike. It is a top-rate production by a professional videographer who we are proud to say just happens to be a good old boater.

Back To Top


Myth, Fact, and Navigators’secrets: Incredible Tales of the Sea and Sailors

by J. Gregory Dill, (The Lyons Press, 2006; 224 pages; $15.95)
Reviewed by Don Chambers, Lawrence, Ks.

Here is a little book with an assortment of sixty or so light stories from the nautical world. There is history, both sublime and ridiculous, modern and not; stories of steam and sail, and wonderful nautical silliness. Written with an appealing, tight, light touch, there aren’t many duds.

I learned some interesting things from this book, little mysteries such as how a bosun’s pipe actually works; that Port Royal in Jamaica had an earthquake in 1692 that destroyed all the Port buildings and 2000 people. I learned how tillers were developed from oars; and about the seven-masted schooner Lawson, the “most-masted” ship in history.

Perhaps Hemingway fans knew about his nutty plan during World War II to turn his wooden fishing boat, Pilar, into a submarine hunter by mounting hidden .50-caliber machine guns on it, expecting to surprise and gun down the submarine crew when they surfaced to inspect his boat. It will stay with me as the best example of how someone can be brilliant but breathtakingly wrong. This book is worthwhile reading for those interested in sea-oddities that you’re not likely to come across in other places.

Back To Top


Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat, Third edition

by Daniel Spurr (McGraw Hill, 2006; 392 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by James Williams, Los Altos, Calif.

Upgrading a good old sailboat can be a game of cat and mouse. As you wriggle into seldom visited corners of your boat, it’s hard to keep up with all the little unforeseen projects that present themselves to you. This third edition of Daniel Spurr’s Guide will be a real help to do-it-yourself sailors. And following the cat and mouse that Bruce Bingham has sketched into his wonderful drawings will be great entertainment for you and your family.

There are a lot of books available to sailors wanting to improve their boats, but Spurr’s Guide is one of the most readable and practical. Clarity is at the top of the list for me, and Spurr surely provides this. His concise commentary on strengthening and maintaining chainplates, for example, is among the most comprehensible I’ve ever read. Case studies of his work on boats are well-illustrated and easy to follow — even if you hire the work out, at least you’ll get a good sense of what you’re in for before the process begins.

Ideally, boatbuilding is one of those arts that improves over time as builders learn from their mistakes. Of course, we know that builders and consumers inevitably reach compromises, and Spurr offers good suggestions to correct weaknesses in boats compromised by the marketplace. Strengthening weakly supported dinette tables is just one case in point. They should be able to withstand the rigors of offshore life and, as my wife says, withstand a little table dancing at anchor.

Several chapters have been updated and reorganized for this new edition of Spurr’s Guide, which makes it a better book overall. For example, Spurr nicely filled out the chapter on instruments and the electrical system by adding sections on email, weather and time, EPIRBs, and radar. But the addition of forty-three pages of drawings and brief comments on seventy “good old boats” that one might choose for off-shore cruising seems rather an add-on.

Nevertheless, Spurr brings years of experience reviewing boat systems and products as editor of Practical Sailor and senior editor of Cruising World. This significantly enriches his work and is the Guide’s great strength. He has compared and tested a lot of boat products in his time, and he generally discusses products without prejudice to producers. To be sure, his product recommendations occasionally seem a bit uneven, such as his highlighting the Max-Prop feathering propeller, while making no mention at all to the arguably superior feathering props from VariProp or Martec. But these sorts of slips are few.

If you’re planning to upgrade and outfit a sailboat for off-shore cruising, whether you do the work yourself or not, you should get Spurr’s Guide, read it, and keep it handy. Get it, if only for the “Disaster Checklist” (p. 86), which is sound advice for any boatowner who drifts along a coastal waterway.

Back To Top


Ted Hood: Through Hand and Eye

by Ted Hood and Michael Levitt (Mystic Seaport, 2006; 199 pages; $50.oo)
Reviewed by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Montana

When one hears Ted Hood’s name, the first connection is quite likely to Hood Sails, the loft he founded back in the 1960s and which remains a force in that industry, though Ted has had no connection to it for many years. In fact, he has been much more than a sailmaker. Once one begins counting his many achievements, it quickly becomes evident that he’s one of the most influential sailors of all time: keen racer, including winner of the 1974 America’s Cup (aboard Courageous), equipment inventor and innovator, designer, boat builder, and of course, sailmaker.

Now 79, in 13 chapters (with lots of great old photos) he looks back over his sailing life, and not much deeper. His personal life remains just that. Still, he talks (and I say “talks” because the book is written as if he dictated the text for co-author Mike Levitt to organize and clean up) about his childhood in Danvers, Massachusetts, and the inventiveness of his grandfather and father, the latter an electrical, chemical and mechanical engineer affectionately known as “The Professor,” who later would play an important role in the development of Hood sailcloth.

By his own admission, Ted was more adept in his father’s workshop than at school. The family had boats, wood in those days, and Ted grew up not only sailing them, but repairing them as well. His father told a writer from the New Yorker this story about his son:

Once, we had to fit a new garboard plank to Shrew [an R boat]. It was a really tricky place with all kinds of curves and twists and bevels—the sort of place where an average shipwright would ruin two or three planks before he got the right fit. Ted looked at it, planed the wood, looked at it again and did some more planing. Then he put it to the hull, and it went in perfectly.

That seems to sum up much of his life in boats — always finding the perfect fit. He built his first boat at 12 and checked out Gray’s Sailmaking from the library to figure out how to make sails for it. Therein began a long and self-taught investigation into the art and science of sails. Just a junior in high school, in 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Afterwards, he flirted with sailmaking for a short time before making a commitment to the profession in 1950. His first “loft” was not auspicious: sewing sails in his bedroom on his grandmother’s 50-year-old Singer sewing machine. But if his worksite was unimpressive, the products of his labors were, and gradually Ted built a reputation as a first-rate sailmaker. Compressed rings and the crosscut spinnaker with wide shoulders were two of his innovations. What else soon set him apart from the competition was deciding to weave his own sailcloth. The first looms were set up in 1952 using DuPont’s recently introduced Orlon, and later Dacron (polyester). Hood sailcloth was more tightly woven than other cloths, and therefore believed to be superior. It didn’t hurt that Ted’s father, Stedman, was an expert in fiber technology.

Five chapters are devoted to Twelve Meters and the America’s Cup. Ted’s involvement included supplying sails, crewing on Vim (1958), designing and campaigning Nefertiti in 1962, and eventually skippering Courageous to victory over Australia’s Southern Cross in 1974. Whether you like racing or not, these detailed accounts of the yachts, the sails, the crews and the tactics are fascinating, as only they could be, coming from an insider.

Ted’s signature yacht design is a moderately heavy displacement hull form with generous beam for excellent form stability. A good example was the 60-foot American Promise, which in 1986 Dodge Morgan sailed solo non-stop around the world in a then-record time of 150 days. Ted built the boat as well, at his Marblehead yard.

He continues to this day designing and building boats in the U.S., Asia and Europe. It’s almost as if he can’t help himself. Early in his autobiography he notes that his parents didn’t take him sailing until he was a month old. Refusing to retire, he jokes that he’s been trying his entire life to make up for that month lost.

Back To Top


Ghost Sea

by Ferenc Máté (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006; 288 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Cindy Christian Rogers, Minneapolis, Minn.

Ferenc Máté is perhaps best-known to good old sailors for his “best boats” books, in which he describes classic designs as eloquently as he might describe living beings. In Ghost Sea, he turns his talents to fiction, populating a rugged and mysterious landscape with human characters, while still displaying his flair for the nautical.

Set along the British Columbian coastline about a century ago, the story centers around Dugger, an outlaw coastal trader who is hired to teach Katherine, a wealthy man’s wife, to sail. The two become lovers, which complicates Dugger’s next job: to navigate 200 miles of uncharted shoreline to save her from two native warriors who have taken her hostage. Dugger finds himself aboard his ketch with Hay, the husband; Nello, a half-native, half-Italian first mate; and Charlie, a Chinese cook. They enter a world fraught with unexpected dangers and murderous enemies. The outcome isn’t certain until the final pages.

The novel recreates the world of the Kwakiutl Nation, a tribe reputed to practice cannibalism, orgies and torture, and hallucinatory potlatches. Máté extensively researched its culture; he spent years sailing the Kwakiutl Islands and visiting long-abandoned villages. His firsthand knowledge imbues the narrative with compelling context and reminds readers that clashes of culture have two sides.

Detailed descriptions and insightful metaphors sustain the title’s motif: a hard wind carves “six-foot waves as steep as tombstones” and nighttime sounds “can drive you mad when you’re sailing in the dark, when the hiss of the bow wake becomes sighs of the long-drowned” The author also captures the joy of sailing: “The canvas bulged, the sheets quivered, and a halyard slatted, keeping time against the mast, and I braced my foot in the cockpit corner, clutched the spokes of the wheel, and for a moment forgot about Hay below and Katherine up ahead, forgot my debts and even the South Seas — I was sailing.”

Máté’s novel has attracted kudos from the likes of Walter Cronkite and John Rousmaniere, who have called it “a gripping story” and “an action-packed sea adventure,” respectively. The story does hurtle along; at times the pace can make it difficult to follow the action, especially in the final chapters. Also at times the characters border on stereotype, although there are surprises: two persons onboard are not what they seem to be. All in all, however, Ghost Sea is a rollicking fiction debut.

Back To Top


Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, Fl

by Mark and Diana Doyle (Semi-local Publications, 2006; 220 pages; $24.95; Good Old Boat readers will receive a 20% discount on their products. When ordering, use the code 0GOODOLDBO26267)
Reviewed by Vern Hobbs, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Mark and Diana Doyle, authors of Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, FL, point out that no less than 882 islands make up the Florida Keys. There have probably been just as many cruising guides written about this alluring chain of islands, but this one offers a fresh, new approach.

Mark and Diana address the mariner’s needs with their innovative “cruisers’ triangle,” a concept derived from the theories of famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow. Safety issues such as navigation, weather, and availability of anchorages and marinas are addressed first, at the bottom of the triangle. Comfort concerns, such as provisioning, follow at the next level as the triangle is ascended. Finally, tips on how to gain an appreciation of the locale through which you are sailing are detailed at the top of the triangle.

To achieve these objectives, Managing the Waterway employs an unconventional format. A rolling header across the top of each page lists pertinent navigational information, including the nearest Coast Guard station, the NOAA weather broadcast channel with the strongest signal, towboat operators in the proximity, and a synopsis of piloting details presented on the page. The outermost column of each page provides a highly detailed navigation log, designed to be followed from top to bottom by southbound voyagers, and bottom to top by those heading north.

The remaining columns satisfy the comfort and appreciation aspects of the cruisers’ triangle, with precise directions to shoreside services including markets, chandleries, banks, post offices, and medical and veterinary clinics. Also included is a wealth of information about local historical sights, cultural events, and the native wildlife.

Throughout the text, small lightbulb icons annotate helpful tips. Some are regionally specific, such as cautions about anchoring near coral or sea-grass beds, while others offer general maintenance suggestions or product endorsements.

Over forty pages of NOAA chart reproductions, with overlays of navigation data, are mirrored by county land maps denoting useful shoreside amenities. To ensure this constantly changing material stays fresh, the publisher offers bi-annual e-mail updates.

Managing the Waterway is not an armchair book. It is an essential cockpit reference, which combines, in one easy-to-use guide, the necessary information required for safe passage, while also providing a fount of local knowledge often omitted from more traditional publications. This marriage of convenience is well-designed and certain to ensure a far richer experience cruising the Florida Keys.

Back To Top


It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water

by Suzanne Giesemann ( Paradise Cay, 2006; 240 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Why is it that men predominate among sailors? Sailing a boat doesn’t take superior strength. It doesn’t demand a uniquely male skill. Having a Y chromosome is not required. Sailing isn’t about Mars and Venus. Suzanne Giesemann knows this and has become a one-woman band with the goal of bringing equality to our favorite recreational activity.

Suzanne’s new book, It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, was created in the hope of drawing more women into sailing . . . because they want to be there with their sailing partners . . . because they enjoy being outside on the water . . . because they love the lifestyle . . . because they are fully engaged and interested in the adventure of moving a sailboat from one place to another, perhaps from one country to another or one continent to another.

Call it an “Atta-Girl” book, if you will. Suzanne’s message is clear: other women do this; you can too. Here’s what you need to know. Let me talk you through this, sailor to sailor and woman to woman. Here are the skills you will need to keep yourself and your boat safe. Here are the vocabulary words and basics that will prevent you from feeling or looking out of place. Go out and practice. The rest of us will be cheering for you. Go get ’em, girl!

This book is divided into several sections. Part 1 deals with the concepts of women and boats as well as attitude and adventure. Here Suzanne invites her readers to join those of us who have already discovered the sailing lifestyle. Part 2 discusses the skills, debunks the mysteries, and prioritizes the basics. The author explains that there’s always more to learn, but here’s a good start. Part 3 focuses on handling the boat as a couple and having a full-fledged partnership in buying, owning, and managing a boat. She includes helpful information in the appendices. Perhaps best of all, this book opens with a foreword by Lin Pardey, a woman who has been actively sailing for 40 years. Lin tells of her own moment of truth: the day when she “truly realized that Seraffyn was my boat too.”

Wanting to become accomplished at anything that takes a bit of skill is 99-percent about attitude. It’s not easy for a female adult to make the inevitable mistakes that come with learning. It’s far worse to make these mistakes in a public place, such as a marina or anchorage. It’s humiliating if her husband or partner is unsympathetic. But as long as she still has a glimmer of interest in sailing, Suzanne can provide the female perspective and beginning skills the would-be sailor needs.

It wouldn’t hurt for any male sailor with a reluctant spouse to read It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water. He should consider buying a copy for his wife or partner, if she doesn’t go out and get it first. After all, it’s her boat too. Helping her turn the corner from reluctant to enthusiastic will improve the time spent aboard for both members of any sailing couple.

Back To Top


The Voyages of Fishers Hornpipe

by Reuel B. Parker (Parker Marine Enterprises, 2006; 252 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Richard Smith, Indianola, Wash.

L. Francis Herreshoff, in his introduction to The Compleat Cruiser, holds that there is no better way of instructing than “carrying on a narrative.” Parker’s story revisits 1970’s America and one man who, after Vietnam, finds solace in a California commune and redemption in building and cruising a ferrocement sailboat called Fishers Hornpipe — a fifty-four foot, Patrick Cotton-designed cutter — as beautiful as it is well found.

Thanks to Parker’s uncommon candor, we learn how Fishers Hornpipe works from a fly-in-the-cockpit perspective, wherein the nature of friendship, love, and sexuality is described with the same penchant for authenticity and detail as reefing too late.

Members of Parker’s illustrious and ever-changing crew are nautical equivalents of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters — young men and women with a devil-may-care zest for life that was unique to sailing during that decade or two that had many Americans reeling from a loss of confidence in authority and conventional lives.

We watch adventure-prone novices falling in and out of love with each other between tides, when they make sail changes and paint bottoms, bleed injectors at sea, anchor and drag and anchor well. We watch them navigate in the old way, anxiously piloting through coral heads to reach a safe harbor and struggle with the vagaries of customs martinets. Euphoria and unrequited love tumble in their bow waves and follow in their wake.

Parker takes us from California’s Half Moon Bay to Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal and into the islands of the Caribbean. We sail up to Florida, haltingly navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, and skirt the Gulf Stream to Maine. In spite of or, as Herreshoff would have it, because of the story that has us in its grip, we learn a lot.

Parker’s is a holistic view of life at sea — a life that sees boats as things that shape us just as surely as we shape them. He is a man who loves boats and everything that goes with them. And I mean everything. He doesn’t sacrifice truth to propriety, keeping “personal accounts” that will embarrass some and shock a few. But they are never gratuitous accounts and will interest those who wonder at the sea and its secrets.

The charts are refreshingly abundant as cruising narratives go. They are extremely helpful and well-integrated with the text. The frustration of constant back-and-forthing is unnecessary; what you want to see is right there next to the paragraph. Photographs are similarly unified and welcome the reader aboard; I found myself referring to them often and closely.

Back To Top


A Race for Real Sailors: Bluenose and the International Fishermen’s Cup, 1920-1938

by Keith McLaren (David R. Godine Publisher, 2006; 250 pages; $40.00)
Reviewed by Michael Maxfield, Gatesville, Tex.

By the early 1900s the U.S. and Canadian Grand Banks fishing schooners were among the last all-sail commercial fleets left in the western world. The lives of these fishermen were hard, cold, and dangerous. But these were hard, rough men, and they sailed their boats that way. Whenever two boats met, while going to or from the fishing grounds, it turned into an impromptu race. Gale-force winds were common occurrences in the North Atlantic, and racing in 30- to 40-knot winds simply added more fun and excitement for these guys as they bent on every inch of canvas they could.

In July 1920, the British (Shamrock IV) and Americans (Resolute) faced off for the America’s Cup. With the races tied 2 to 2, the fifth and final race was met with great excitement and expectation by watchers and racers alike. The race committee caused a great uproar by postponing the final race due to 20-knot winds. (The last race was held two days later to little fanfare.)

“Old salts and fishermen . . . want to see a real race — not a lady-like saunter of fair-weather freaks” read an article in the Halifax Herald. And from this ensuing hue and cry was born the International Fishermen’s Cup, “a race for real sailors” that promised the excitement and drama the America’s Cup race lacked.

The precursor race was held off Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 1, 1920, with nine Canadian boats racing. It was such a huge hit that the race committee issued a challenge to the Americans for a one-on-one race to be held October 30, 1920. The American schooner, Esperanto, set sails against Nova Scotia’s Delawana, and the first IFC went to the Americans.

The Canadian schooner, Bluenose, was launched March 26, 1921. The boat was so-named because the people of Nova Scotia were known on the East Coast as “bluenosers.” She was purpose-built to beat the Americans, and she dominated the races. This was a legendary series of races, especially in Canada, where a likeness of the Bluenose graces the back of the Canadian dime.

A Race for Real Sailors bills itself as a “fair and even-handed account” of this often contentious and often canceled race, and it lives up to that claim. This is an oversized coffee-table style book, liberally illustrated throughout with black-and-white photos, as well as a helpful glossary, maps, and appendix.

For anyone interested in the evolution, working and racing of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, this book is packed with all the information you could want. But if your interest is in light, entertaining sailing adventure stories, you should look elsewhere.

Back To Top


The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat

by Jack Becker (Sheridan House, 2006; 192 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

You’re going to like Jack Becker. He doesn’t match the stereotypical sailor profile. He’ll leave you wondering why he’s made the choices he has. And when he succeeds against the odds, you’ll cheer this intelligent, honest, and personable man who is in the process of becoming a sailor the hard way. You’ll get to know — and like — Jack by reading his new book, The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat.

Apparently no one ever told Jack the meaning of the word “impossible” and so, with an incredibly supportive wife, he took on the restoration of a large 70-year-old wooden sailboat. He did it in two years (working right through one Minnesota winter) with what can only be described as lightning speed. Then he wrote a book about it. And he didn’t even know how to sail. What was he thinking?

Lucky for him and for his readers, who are soon rooting for him, Jack understood wooden boats. He’d restored and cruised aboard two beautiful powerboats. The first was a 1938 40-foot Matthews. That sounds ambitious until you hear what followed: an 85-foot commuter yacht built by Luders Marine in 1926. He and his young family lived aboard and chartered this boat for four-hour cruises on Lake Union in Seattle. So he surely knew what he was getting into, didn’t he?

Years went by. It was time for another boat, and this time Jack fell in love with a 42-foot racing sailboat drawn by Norman Dallimore and built in England in 1937. She was more than just a little run down and had been abandoned in the Chesapeake Bay area when Jack discovered her for sale on the Internet, trucked her home to Minnesota, then learned that wooden boats are unwelcome in many marinas and that a deep draft of seven feet will present problems in most of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. But he solved these problems and many more. Jack Becker thinks outside the box.

There is an artist in the soul of this man. He admits it. I suspect it was the artist who caused him to take a hard left turn from powerboat to sailboat, from urban dweller to boatyard bum, and from stable, predictable Jack to, well, something else entirely in the eyes of his friends and family. His concept of the left turn is hilarious. Left turns are those moments in life when an individual makes a totally unpredictable, illogical choice . . . and changes his life in a small way, or possibly profoundly. So it was that Jack Becker took on the restoration of Lilibet. You’ll enjoy his telling of her restoration. But he ends too soon. I have got to know: did the eventual sailing make it all worthwhile?

Back To Top


Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas

by Beth Leonard (International Marine, 2007; 179 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Beth Leonard’s pen is magic. She is able to write as few others can. Better yet for sailors everywhere, she goes to the ends of the earth in order to have strong subject matter to present.

Over the years, in her previous books, Beth has told us how to go cruising and she’s told us why. Her how-to book, The Voyager’s Handbook, has just come out in a new, fatter, second edition. In contrast, Blue Horizons is another book about why . . . why go cruising . . . why go to the high latitudes of the Arctic and then to the Southern Ocean with its great capes . . . why not sip margaritas in paradise?

In their first three-year 36,000-mile circumnavigation, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger cruised in paradise. Then they went home, sold the boat, dusted off their hands, went back to work, and were instantly consumed by regrets. Beth tells us, “Life ashore seemed dull, monochrome. Something was missing.” Since their favorite cruising areas had been the temperate latitudes, rather than the tropics, they embarked on a more challenging high-latitude circumnavigation after first building the aluminum sloop capable of taking them there.

Long passages give this insightful sailor ample opportunity to be alone with her thoughts, which then flow out onto paper through that magic pen of hers. She writes of relationships with and memories of family and friends, of experiences afloat, of safety at sea, and of the pleasures and pains of passage. Her philosophical musings pour forth on page after page.

A portion of the book depicts the bonding process between two dominant personalities who have spent a large percentage of the last decade confined to a relatively small space. Over time, her side of the relationship has evolved through power struggle to acceptance, to pleased contentment, and finally to absolute satisfaction with the life she leads and the bonds she and Evans have forged.

In this book, as she contemplates high-latitude sailing, Beth tells us that life is an investment. You get out of it what you put into it. The best cruising experiences come at a price. You can’t experience the Arctic Circle’s summer solstice (the one day the sun doesn’t set on the Arctic Circle) without doing some uncomfortable high-latitude sailing to get there. But the memory is priceless. It’s these character-building experiences that mold and shape us and provide the memories we treasure.

Beth summarizes the voyaging life like this: “It is a life of limitless possibilities, endless opportunities, and continuous renewal. The sea tests us constantly, demanding we learn new skills and don’t get complacent about old ones . . . The other sailors we meet humble us. Some have overcome great odds to be out here; others quietly and competently complete epic voyages without fanfare or recognition . . . If there is one thing that our years aboard Hawk and Silk have taught us, it is that ordinary, everyday people do the most extraordinary, inspirational things.”

For more magic from this pen, pick up a copy of Blue Horizons and other books by Beth Leonard.

Back To Top


Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts

by Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications LLC, 2006; 2 DVDs; $39.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Mark and Diana Doyle, bless ’em, are a couple of sailors who re-invented the cruising guide when they put together the book they’d like to see while cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. Another guide followed, with more in the works. (Once started, it seems they can’t help themselves.)

As it stands right now, they’ll take you from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to the Dry Tortugas beyond Key West. Their company, called semi-local publications, with the tagline “books for the wandering soul,” has become something of a phenomenon among those transiting the ICW.

But this cruising couple really created a winner when they compiled an inexpensive DVD set that includes the latest version of each chart you’ll need to cruise all the waters in the U.S. and possessions, including the inland trails, such as the Mississippi River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway. “Sure,” you say, “all the NOAA charts are available for free download.” Indeed they are. Where do you think Mark and Diana get them?

The magic in what these two do for you for $39.95 is this: they do all the downloading of those large raster and vector files and organize them in nine geographic cruising regions so you can find what you’re looking for. What’s your time worth, after all? You could go rooting around on the NOAA website and do the endless downloads yourself. Or for just under $40 you can buy a two-disc set, which will give you the latest versions, compact and organized.

Called Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts, the set includes more than 3,000 charts. This includes the harbor charts and other incidental charts that you might not bother with if you had to buy each chart or download it individually. It will cover you if you choose to go somewhere unplanned at the last minute. It will provide charts for dreaming. With apologies to Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

The chart set includes Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs), vector Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs), and vector Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENCs). Mark and Diana tell us these charts are compatible with all leading manufacturers of charting and navigation software. I believe them because they work even with my Macintosh, which runs our boat’s electronic software using GPSNavX. Other compatible applications include Fugawi, Nobeltec, The Capn, Coastal Explorer, Maptech, MacENC, Raymarine, Furuno, SeaClear, Global Navigation, and others.

In fact, the DVD set includes a growing list of free and trial software for PC and Mac so you can try out charting and navigation applications if you’re new to electronic charting, or considering changing programs. And last, but certainly not least, Managing the Waterways: Electronic Charts includes searchable government publications such as Coast Pilots, Light Lists, and Chart No. 1. Now you can quickly look up an obscure chart symbol or read recommendations for entering an inlet or unfamiliar harbor. There’s no excuse for sailing around without the backup of paper charts, even if you prefer electronic navigation. But since Mark and Diana will annually catalog and update their latest offering, Managing the Waterway: Electronic Charts, you won’t need to replace your paper charts as frequently (paper chart purchases continue to be an expensive and daunting endeavor). Now that someone has made all the U.S. charts and government publications this accessible, the electronic software and hardware folks should be thrilled. With the help of the U.S. government, Mark and Diana Doyle have made electronic charting convenient, affordable, and available for “the rest of us.”

Back To Top


The Barefoot Navigator: Navigating with the skills of the ancients

by Jack Lagan (Sheridan House, 2006; 148 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.

The author assures the reader in his Introduction, that “This book is not a rant against modern technology.” Rather, it ” . . . renews emphasis on personal skills, special knowledge and the use of the senses . . . ” In this regard, his book is clearly of value to coastal cruisers and passagemakers alike, although the sections that describe techniques for “No-Tech” and “Low-Tech” navigation will primarily benefit the passagemaker.

The first section of this book is a fine, concise review of the navigation skills and accomplishments of earlier mariners: the Pacific Islanders; the Vikings; Pharaohs and Phoenicians; the Arabs, and finally, the Chinese. The Polynesian navigators’ ability to carry in their minds a chart of their world and the sailing instructions for passages among the many known islands is awe-inspiring. Their associated ability to track the motion of their vessel through this mental chart is equally impressive. For me, this planted a sort of subliminal message from the author that surely we modern navigators should be able to improve our dead reckoning through more attentive use of our senses.

Part two of this book, Practical No-Tech Navigation, teaches a variety of techniques for determining heading, estimating latitude, and for detecting the presence of land. As the author succinctly puts it, this section ” . . . is about what you can see and what is in your head.” The what’s-in-your-head bit is a recurring theme in this book.

The third section, Do-it-Yourself Lo-Tech Navigation, introduces a number of simple tools to greatly improve knowledge of heading and position (latitude and longitude) in combination with some “special” knowledge. In particular, the navigator needs to know the annual variation of the sun’s declination in order to determine latitude from a noon sight. They also need to know the equation of time (i.e., the systematic variation of local noon throughout the year) to determine longitude with a quartz watch set to Greenwich Mean Time. The author includes a little poem to help remember the maximum and minimum values for the equation of time. He also provides convenient tables for both parameters on his website, which can be downloaded and included in the navigator’s emergency kit.

This book is nicely illustrated and extensively annotated. It also includes a useful appendix of websites that range from Celestial Navigation to the History of Cartography. This book will be a good read for any mariners who enjoy the art and science of navigation.

Back To Top


Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure: San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas & First Summer in the Sea of Cortez: Cabo San Lucas to Isla Coronados /
65 Days Alone at Sea

on DVD, by Greg and Jill Delezynski (CustomFlix,2006; 84 minutes; $29.95 & CustomFlix, 2006; 88 minutes; $29.95) / by Bernie Harberts (RiverEarth Publishing, 2006; 72 minutes; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

What’s new? DVDs of sailors’ cruises seem to be the latest thing showing up in the Good Old Boat office. There’s a trend here. More people are publishing their own books (books-on-demand technology). More people are producing their own radio shows (podcasts). More people are publishing their own opinions (blogs). More people are distributing their own music and audiobooks, such as the Good Old Boat audiobooks (using MP3). And more people are creating and releasing their own movies (on DVDs).

In the last month we’ve received DVDs from a couple cruising the West Coast from San Francisco to the Sea of Cortez, and a solo sailor who crossed the Atlantic from South Africa to the Virgin Islands. We’re aware of more on the way. This is just the beginning.

Heading south on the West Coast, While they were preparing for a retirement spent chasing the distant horizon, Greg and Jill Delezynski and their Nor’Sea 27 were featured in the November 2002 issue of Good Old Boat. Greg also wrote and published four or five articles about the projects he completed on Guenevere, the Nor’Sea 27. Then one day they stopped talking and writing about it and started living it. They untied the docklines and went south to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Peninsula and north into the Sea of Cortez.

Just because they weren’t sending articles our way, however, didn’t mean they weren’t busy out there. Greg had discovered the exciting potential of video recorders and decided to take the rest of us (family, friends, and fellow cruisers) along with them as these two lived their dream. Now they have published the first two of what is likely to become a full set of DVDs on our shelf: part video adventure, part cruising guide, and part commentary about the cruising life.

The titles of the DVDs tell you the content: Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure and Guenevere’s First Summer in the Sea of Cortez. The first covers nautical miles 0 to 1,559, ending, as you’d expect, at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula. The second covers miles 1,559 to 2,198, and covers their explorations of the Sea of Cortez, and there’s much left to be seen. Further videos will be forthcoming. Count on it.

If you have ever wanted to know what the trip down the West Coast is like, Greg and Jill fill you in on the details in a most pleasant and professional way. We were so impressed with the quality of these first two productions that we’ve asked Greg to write another article for Good Old Boat: one telling the rest of us how to make DVDs of our own cruising experiences.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic Ocean . . ., Bernie Harberts’ DVD is a variation on this theme. In 65 Days Alone at Sea he shows us what it’s like to sail more than 6,000 miles in the South Atlantic as a solo sailor. On this two-month voyage he climbs the mast and shoots the boat while barreling along in the trade winds. He jumps into the dinghy and shoots photos of Sea Bird, his 1984 Colvin cutter, while it’s becalmed. He films from the end of the bowsprit. He tells about fishing and drying his catch. He celebrates crossing the Greenwich Meridian. He manages to include himself in many of the scenes, a trick in itself for a solo sailor, since the camera is not stationary during these sequences.

Bernie is an imaginative adventurer who completed a circumnavigation on Sea Bird when, in 2003, he fetched up in Oriental, North Carolina at the end of the voyage depicted in this DVD. Prior to the circumnavigation he spent a year walking across the continental U.S. with a mule and a pony, and is currently planning a similar expedition (from Mexico to Canada) with a mule team and wagon. (Something about swallowing the anchor, perhaps?)

Like so many self-published books, Bernie’s presentation is obviously homemade. He is not a videographer or skilled narrator. But if you’re wondering what it’s like out there, you’re invited along on the voyage with this self-styled madman who travels the world in search of adventure., I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell . . . everyone has a book hidden deep inside him (or her) somewhere. With today’s easier and more affordable video technology and the relative ease of distribution, allow me to revise that thought: everyone has a movie hidden inside instead.

Back To Top


In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship

by John Rousmaniere (Mystic Seaport, 2006; 168 pages; $50.00)
Reviewed by Don Chambers, Lawrence, Kans.

The sailing vessel Bolero is the centerpiece of this gorgeous book and she deserves such an honor. Though other boats with great records melted into the ooze of some obscure boatyard, the sheer beauty of Bolero under sail kept her from that ugly fate. Again and again she was resurrected from neglect, decay, and general decrepitude by those who still saw her beauty, even in her worst moments.

Much history is woven within and around the story of Bolero‘s birth, greatness, decline and resurrection — histories of the designers who conceived her and of the owners whose cash made it all possible, histories of famous boatyards and craftsmen. Some are people whose names GOB readers might recognize: Cornelius Shields, Ted Turner, Henry S. Morgan (of Morgan Stanley), to name a few.

This is a story of the rich and famous, those who sailed very large and very expensive boats. One story tells of a race where a crewmember of a rival boat spotted a trail of artichoke leaves and instantly knew it could only have been left by Bolero, whose famous galley cook was preparing dinner.

But wealthy owners aren’t the only heroes here. There are the “back stories” of designers Olin and Rod Stephens, of the famous Henry Nevis Boatyard, and the craftsmen who were crucial in building Bolero. And because the world of big wooden sailing boats was (is) such a small one, most of America’s hero-designers walk in and out of this book: Bruce Kirby, John Alden, Nathanael and Halsey Herreshoff, etc.

Rousmaniere is excellent when describing the exciting races between Bolero and Baruna, another Sparkman and Stephen’s boat of similar dimensions, often long ocean races — Newport to Annapolis, the Bermuda races, etc. The virtue of these stories is the crewmembers on-board recollections of the fast and furious action and the sheer size and power of these boats. One crewmember remembers ” . . . Bolero‘s bronze winch literally exploded under the strain and bronze pieces flew everywhere . . . anything that flopped on Bolero could kill you on impact . . . the only thing on Bolero I could lift without a winch was a sandwich . . .”

There are interesting capsule histories of the Sparkman and Stephens naval architecture firm and the Henry Nevins Boat Yard, both of whom catered to the building/rebuilding of large sailing vessels. I admire the Rod Stephens quote: ” . . . the best work is done by people who are fanatical and fanatics are not known for their flexibility.” And, of course, that is what creates the conflicts and thus the stories herein.

John Nicholas Brown commissioned Bolero‘s construction, but it was his wife, Anne Seddon Kinsolving, who influenced the design of Bolero in crucial ways and “made John Nicholas Brown a sailor,” according to Rousmaniere. After a succession of owners, Bolero disappeared until Ed Kane found her — deserted, dismantled, and derelict, up a muddy creek in Florida.

Kane and his wife, Marty Wallace, restored Bolero to full glory once again, with Marty taking the lead. Kane himself says his biggest joy was to get syndicates together and watch the intrigue of interacting personalities, while “Marty is the builder and the artist . . . . She loves tearing things apart and rebuilding them . . . I’m not a project person.”

They rebuilt Bolero to race with a smaller crew, adding power winches and roller furling, much against the objections of traditionalists. The grand old lady did race again. In the 2004 season she took six firsts and four seconds.

All in all, John Rousmaniere’s book is an interesting read and thoroughly gorgeous to look at. If you’re looking for books on knock-em-dead-handsome old boats with downright beautiful pictures, you’ll like this one.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2005

 

Reviews From 2005

February 2005 Newsletter

April 2005 Newsletter

June 2005 Newsletter

August 2005 Newsletter

October 2005 Newsletter

December 2005 Newsletter


Honorable Mention

by Robert N. Macomber (Pineapple Press, 2004; 327 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Bloch, Naples, Fla.

Would you like to go back in time and experience being on a naval ship during the Civil War? Robert Macomber’s Honorable Mention, third in the 11-novel “Honor series” of naval fiction, is an exciting and historically accurate adventure tale. Captain Peter Wake is a young naval officer who has begun to make a name for himself as a successful interceptor of blockade runners and a talented negotiator in some very tricky situations.

The first two books in the series, At the Edge of Honor and Point of Honor, have Captain Wake commanding small sailing gunboats in the waters of Florida, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Guided by a lofty honor code, he gains the trust of senior naval officers quickly as he overcomes challenging and dangerous obstacles. His men admire him as they discover their captain has a unique talent for winning dramatic captures of elusive blockade-runners, bringing them fame and financial reward. Adding warmth to his character, he falls for a beautiful damsel from the other side of the political tracks. Her father is a well-known Confederate supporter, and this creates quite a stir amongst the naval chain of command. Nevertheless, Captain Wake’s results earn him ever increasingly challenging assignments, all of which affect the outcome of the Navy’s contribution to the Civil War.

Honorable Mention is Book Three. Capt. Wake ‘s crew is given an assignment feared by most other captains and crews. They’ve just barely survived yellow fever, which has wiped out much of the naval fleet, and are now tasked to rescue an infected vessel and its crew on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The dedication of the captain to his crew and their trust in him are completely tested in this mission.

Assigned to command an armed steam tug, the USS Hunt, Wake is sent on a mission to Cuba at the end of the war to avert an international escalation of what has been up to now a civil war. He and his crew travel around Florida, to Cuba and Puerto Rico as they participate in some assignments that take all the courage, loyalty, and cunning a naval officer can muster. His natural instinct for survival plays a prominent role in this continuing adventure that follows Capt. Wake through his naval career, which will end in 1907 with the 11th novel.

I’ve read the three books in order and loved each of them. The quality of the characters and style of writing have made each increasingly hard to put down. We have had the pleasure in our area of having Robert Macomber speak to our sailing club about his experiences while researching these novels. This year, while researching and writing the novel due out in October of 2005, A Dishonorable Few, the freighter he was aboard came under attack by some real-life pirates. We’ll find them woven into that novel, he promises. Since they are written by a naval historian, these novels are all well-spun yarns with historically correct information accompanied by life experiences.

Back To Top


Plot your Course to Adventure, How to Be a Successful Cruiser

by Roger Olson (Author House, 2004; 645 pages; $29.50)
Reviewed by Jim Daniels, Port Townsend, Wash.

“Voyaging belongs to seamen and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in,” says Sterling Hayden in Wanderer. Roger Olson quotes him in Plot your Course to Adventure. He says, “For those just beginning to enter this adventure, I will continue to use the term cruiser. As we become more acquainted with the lifestyle, hopefully many will become wanderers.”

So maybe it’s fitting that Olson wanders through this book. Readers may find encountering “more on this later” and “as I stated in a previous chapter” frustrating.

Meant for readers who know how to sail and are deciding whether to cruise the oceans, the book may try to cover too much. As previous owner of the Sam L. Morse Company, Roger learned a lot about fiberglass boat construction. However hull construction techniques or the formula for calculating displacement may not be especially useful to most readers. Some good info on finishes will be. Don’t sit on Treadmaster non-skid in your birthday suit while the boat is rolling.

There are good tips throughout the book from Roger’s years at sea. Non-skid on plates and glasses: a simple touch that can save a dinner. Recipes for octopus that tastes good and is even tender may change your cruising diet.

Anecdotes bring home a point or lighten things up. “Never leave on a Friday.” The keel was laid on a Friday for the HMS Friday. She was launched on Friday and left on her maiden voyage on a Friday, to prove it’s safe. “She was never seen again.”

Sailing stories and adventures included are mostly Roger’s personal experiences in the South Pacific. Enlightening, entertaining, and sometimes really funny, these dramatize his points about such important topics as anchoring techniques, safety issues, and having fun.

Other books are referenced throughout, but there’s no reference section. If you’re thinking about world cruising, this is another book to read when you have a lot of free time on your hands. Reading clear through is best, as it ‘s not organized for looking up something specific. You may want to take it aboard long enough to follow the illustrations and practice anchoring methods. If you want expert advice and in-depth knowledge, take Roger Olson’s advice: get such books as Lin and Larry Pardey’s Storm Tactics Handbook. Then wander on.

Back To Top


Living A Dream

by Suzanne Gieseman (Aventine Press, 2004; 277 pages; $16.95)
Reviewed by Bob Wood, Hinsdale, N.Y.

This is a refreshing, at times bluntly candid, perspective of a couple entering the world of cruising. It’s an in-your-face reality check for everyone’s dreams of casting off convention and embracing the carefree life. Eminently qualified technically, the author and her husband are both Navy retirees holding Coast Guard licenses. Yet their backgrounds only reinforce the fact that all cruisers encounter surprises. The delivery is strong and the message clear; cruising is essentially an ever-unfolding discovery of your world and especially yourself.

Suzanne Giesemann describes the thrills and throes of leaving a demanding, fulfilling career for the idyllic lifestyle of increased pleasure and lowered stress. They find that and more. Much more. Set against the rich backdrop of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, their physical adventure will hold reader interest and the personal impacts on the couple provide food for thought. Action, consequence, and perspective are intertwined and described wonderfully.

It’s an objective and honest glimpse at the imperfect world that we love, not a glossy soft-focus look at a romanticized boating world. The author quite accurately describes the gritty details that many accounts overlook: the strained encounters with inconsiderate boaters, physical discomfort, culture clashes, medical self-reliance, and destination shortfalls. And, of course, the rich fabric of traveling afloat that balances the is-it-worth-it equation: friendships forged from hardships shared, unforeseen bonuses from apparently mundane decisions, and the awe of discovery when least expected. Underscoring the balance is their appreciation for the majesty and beauty of nature.

This is as much about a journey inward-bound as it is outward. The greatest rewards of cruising are peeling away layers of facade and living an elemental lifestyle of endeavor and reward. Elemental and satisfying. Core values and relationships become paramount. Artificial banalities shrink in importance.

Still, it’s a jolt for the couple to find themselves in a world defined by a few slow-moving square feet after careers crisscrossing the world at hyper speeds. Their new world is often challenging at a gut level and sometimes hazardous with comfort envelopes stretched. They are honest in their self-appraisals, their evolving relationship, and growth. They seem like old friends I’ve sailed with forever.

Living a Dream is the most refreshing treatment on beginning the cruising lifestyle that I’ve read recently. For those who’ve fantasized or even begun planning this leap of faith, it is highly recommended. It holds forth a central theme for all who choose to see: that the potential of cruising is endless and the access or limitations are found within ourselves. An enthusiastic thumbs up for this forthright and centered couple. May all of our wakes cross theirs, and may Suzanne’s inspiration continue in future books.

Back To Top


Tahoe in Black & White: Classic Photographs

by Jim Hildinger (Tahoe Pots & Prints, 2004; 127 pages; $24.95 from http://www.tahoeinblackandwhite.com)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

As I write this, I am aware that Lake Tahoe, perched in the mountains of California and Nevada, is reported to have received three feet of snow at the lake level and five feet of snow in the higher elevations earlier this week. Some of the views there (once people are able to get out of their homes and driveways, that is, or even from their picture windows) must be incredible.

Jim Hildinger has nurtured a lifelong love affair with this stunning area and recorded the changing views — winter and summer — in stirring black and white photographs which will evoke thoughts of Ansel Adams in anyone who browses through Jim’s new book, Tahoe in Black & White. This is an affordable coffee-table-style book, the sort you are pleased to leaf through in quiet moments. Each time through you will surely see something you didn’t notice before.

Jim is a sailor on Lake Tahoe and, luckily for us, a Good Old Boat subscriber. He doesn’t overwhelm his readers with sailing scenes, although the lake plays a key role in this book. But, probably in consideration of a larger audience, Jim shows the beauty of the wider area: the mountains, rocks, trees, waterfalls, snow, farms, and homes.

His lenses are wide, showing beautiful vistas, and close, showing one gnarled tree or individual pine cone in exquisite detail. His seasons are spring, summer, fall, and the lovely ice and snow of winter. His text is sparse. He tells why a scene drew him in, and he shares how a photographer in black and white views the world through camera and darkroom.

If Tahoe, the place, calls to you, this book will allow you to bring a bit of it home . . . no matter where you are located and no matter what the weather.

Back To Top


Sail South Till the Butter Melts: Atlantic Adventures in an Open Boat

by Geoff Stewart (The Continuity Company, 2004; 171 pages; $29.95 order from http://www.sailsouthtillthebuttermelts.com/)
Reviewed by Ted Brewer, Gabriola Island, British Columbia

This is a book that will be heartily enjoyed by any true sailor and will provide real thrills, along with useful information, for the few who yearn for adventure in small open boats. My copy arrived in the mail from Geoff at noon on Friday, and I couldn’t put it down until I had devoured every page, sometime near midnight the same day. I was particularly interested in his story, as I owned a sister to Geoff’s Drascombe Longboat back in the early ’70s and did a bit of open-boat cruising in it, but nothing like the voyage Geoff describes. I’m not that much of a masochist!

Geoff tells of his early life leading up to his purchase of Donna Elvira in England and then begins his often humorous story of the sail across to France, his adventures in the canals on the trip down to the Med, and his voyage along the coast of France and Spain to Gibraltar. He tells of the people he met, the places he saw and the things he did along the way, such as a summer archeological course, spelunking, and exploring antique ruins. Geoff even gives the names of a number of the people he ran across, in case you ever meet them in your travel…names like Dave, Tony, Michael, Scott, Bitsy, Christine, John, Baldy, Murf, Lyn, and many others. If you do encounter them,

Geoff would like to hear about it!

The book becomes serious when Geoff heads out to the Canaries on his first long ocean hop and tells about encounters with fog and freighters. And it becomes even more serious when he leaves the islands for his epic voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, battling storms, sharks, and boredom along the way.

Sail South Till the Butter Melts is simply a top-notch read: interesting, informative, humorous at times, and well written. I’ve read many good cruising books over the years but none that I’ve enjoyed more. Indeed, after writing this review, I think I’ll start it all over again.

Back To Top


Sailing Small, Inspiration and Instruction for the Pocket Cruiser

edited by Stan Grayson (Devereux Books, 2004; 197 pages; $16.95)
Reviewed by Ted Duke, Fairfield, Va.

Sailing Small is an anthology of tales of several sailors’ attempts to find a sailboat that would meet their need to get away from everyday life. Most are stories of finding a boat “on the cheap” and adapting their needs to fit its accommodations. The stories related also confirm what many have suspected: that sailors learn to tolerate their boats’ flaws and even learn to love them in spite of their limitations. Each story is revealing and stands alone, making the book easy to read.

The first chapter is by the editor explaining his premise and detailing some boats to demonstrate his points. The last chapter is by a boat designer sharing his thoughts as to boat design, which should be helpful to anyone having a boat built or buying a boat. There is a section of color pictures of the different boats described in these stories.

Each author tells how and why they chose the boat they did, how the boat came to be used, and how the owner adapted the boat to his or her needs. In many cases they also tell how they adapted their needs to fit the size and construction of the boat. Authors are from several countries, have varying backgrounds, and have different outlooks on life. The thing that ties these stories together is how they all learn to use their small sailboats to best advantage. Some are tales of weekend cruises close to home, and some of more extended cruising. This is not an “around the world in three years” collection, although some of the authors did have lengthy adventures. Nor is it a cookbook or a how-to book about cruising. It would be better described as a “what I came to discover closer to home collection.”

I think the editor described this collection best when he sub-titled it, “Inspiration and Instruction for the Pocket Cruiser.” Small sailboats of affordable costs for ordinary folks of reasonable means are the subject of these writings. Small Sailing could best be described as a lot of ideas presented as part of different stories.

This book will push you toward buying a boat you can afford instead of dreaming of something you cannot make happen. Those who already own a boat will glean ideas they can use…or even better ideas they can use as a starting point to develop their own procedures or modifications which will make their sailboat better fit their needs. It’s definitely worth reading!

Back To Top


Cruising Japan to New Zealand: The Voyage of the Sea Quest

by Tere Batham (Sheridan House, 2004; 275 pages $29.95)
Reviewed by Theresa Fort, Lusby, Md.

I’ve just gotten back from an exciting cruising adventure from Japan to New Zealand, but I never left our cabin near the Chesapeake. I’ve just read Tere Batham’s new book, Cruising Japan to New Zealand, and followed along as she and her husband, Michael, with young novice Japanese crew, Miki, traveled from Japan’s Southern Archipelago to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Along the way there are numerous and fascinating stops in Hong Kong and Macau, the Philippines, Micronesia, the Solomon’s Islands, and New Caledonia.

Miki and the Bathams get glimpses of the remaining vestiges of dying South Sea cultures and explore untouched coral atolls. They face heavy weather at sea as well as doldrums, and they visit places few yachts go in Micronesia.

Cruising Japan to New Zealand is a cruising story with a coming-of-age story nestled within. Young and beautiful Miki, arrives as crew just 24 hours before the Bathams ‘scheduled departure from Japan. Escaping from an arranged marriage and a culture that is un-accepting of women adventurers, she has the adventure of her life and learns how to cope through hardships and how to enjoy the beauty around her.

Full color photos and beautifully drawn charts add even more depth to the story.

Adventure, beauty, fruitfulness, and hardship fill this 14-month 10,000-mile voyage. Tere Batham weaves this great story with spirit, clarity, and color. Curl up on your settee and read Cruising Japan to New Zealand. It will have you dreaming of adventure.

Back To Top


100 Fast and Easy Boat Improvements

by Don Casey, (International Marine, 2004; 138 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Scott Simpson, Coventry, Conn.

Tucked away somewhere in a drawer or file cabinet are clippings from magazines and other sources. As owners of good old boats, we probably all have them. Those ideas that we saw somewhere and one day hope to incorporate as we make our boats our own. For every ” keeper” that we find, there must be hundreds more we haven’t found. We may wonder which idea is the best. Has someone else found a better way to do it? We can all relax and breathe a sigh of relief because Don Casey, the do-it-yourself boat guru, has done it for us.

Don gives us a fresh look at 100 of these little inspirations. For example, screened companionway doors. These let in fresh air on a warm summer night without also inviting the bugs that have been drawn to the warm glow of your cabin lights. Another is how to make custom handrails that match the old worn thin set and line up properly with the existing holes. Did you know you can operate two sets of lights separately on your mast from one pair of wires using diodes and a three-way switch? Here’s an idea of mounting a compass over your bunk. It lets you check if your boat has swung on its anchor in the middle of the night right from under the covers. If you are tired of your halyards clanging and tacky bungee cords, you can use spreader thumb cleats instead. Here’s one for sailors who refuse to give up their tillers. It’s a tiller comb that lets you lock the helm in various positions freeing the helmsman temporarily. I could go on.

I found myself being entertained by Don’s comfortable style of writing as well as his simple way of explaining things. He does an excellent job at describing the benefits to each improvement. For the most part, I could follow his instructions easily enough. There were a few times when I had to scratch my head in confusion while trying to follow the text and illus­trations. Sometimes I felt the details were left to the reader’s imagination and mine wasn’t stretching quite far enough.

Though Don admits this book of 100 is not exhaustive, I can assure you it’s an extra 100 ideas in my file. For those who are always looking for a better way of doing things or need just the right idea, this book is a must-read.

If you recognize the title, it’s because this book is one of a series being re-published by International Marine.

Back To Top


Through the Land of Fire: Fifty-Six South

by Ben Pester (Sheridan House, 2004; 286 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by C.H. “Chas ” Hague, Des Plaines, Ill.

Ben Pester and his friends, Jeremy Burnett and Fraser Currie (aggregate age: 193 years) had an objective. They wanted to explore the waterways off Tierra del Fuego and celebrate the turn of the Millennium off Cape Horn in Ben’s 36-foot teak boat, Marelle. How they accomplished this is the story of Through the Land of Fire.

Sailing from Falmouth, England, across the Atlantic, and down the east coast of South America, they entered the Magellan Strait, continued due south at Point Hope, went through the Cockburn Channel, probed the Beagle Channel, sailed past Wollaston Island, and traveled around the Horn, west to east.

The book has less than the usual complement of sea stories. Instead, Pester gives some of the amazing history of this desolate place. He has done a wonderful job of research; when the Marelle passes a point of interest, he tells, in great and fascinating detail, which explorer named it, the story of who it was named after, and what interesting historic events happened at that site. For example, Tierra del Fuego is no longer the Land of Fire; the explorers and missionaries exterminated the native people who set the fires that Magellan saw and for which it was named.

The crewmembers of Marelle do have their problems dealing with bureaucracies in a hostile (both climatic and military) environment and combating some of the unrelentingly worst weather on the planet. A “Richas” is a fierce wind that drops off the Andes down into a bay, sometimes reaching speeds of 100 knots which can blow for two or three days.

The first chapter discusses setting up a small, simply equipped boat for such a journey, and four appendices deal with subjects from baking bread to survival at sea. Four good-quality color maps are included. Turn to these early; otherwise, keeping track of the many locales that are mentioned, especially in the Beagle Channel, will be difficult.

The writing is a bit overwrought, at times. This is less apparent in the historical anecdotes. For a sailor looking to the ultimate challenge of a Horn passage, this book would be a useful guide to the remarkable history of this desolate place.

Back To Top


Herreshoff Sailboats

by Gregory Jones (MBI Publishing Co., 2004; 138 pages; $40.00)
Reviewed by Eric Nelson, Celina, Ohio

Breathes there a sailor with soul so dead, That he has not at one time said, “Gosh, I’d like to own a Herreshoff.”, (With apologies to The Man Without a Country.)

Ask any knowledgeable sailor, “Who were the top sailboat designers of all time?” Odds are Nathanael Herreshoff and L. Francis Herreshoff will be near the top of the list. The Herres­hoffs created some of the most beautiful sailboats of all time. Nathanael also designed and built the first practical racing catamarans (quickly eliminated from competition by the rule writers), redesigned steam engines, and built fast steam yachts and naval patrol vessels.

Numerous books have covered the Herreshoffs and Herres­hoff Manufacturing Company (HMC), but few authors have so effectively examined the extended careers of the Herreshoff dynasty as Greg Jones has with his beautiful coffee-table book. Combining lucid text and historic and contemporary photographs, Greg squeezes 200 years of history into 160 pages. He begins with Karl Herreschoff in 1763 (the “c” was dropped when Karl emigrated to America) and goes up to the present Herreshoff Marine Museum which rose on the old factory site.

Nathanael Herreshoff and his brother, J.B., started HMC in 1878 to manufacture steam yachts and torpedo boats. They built sailboats for their own pleasure. Their fast and beautiful yachts came to the attention J.P. Morgan and the racing crowd at the New York Yacht Club. Greg details a gilded era of unlimited spending and ostentatious living, with the Herreshoffs serving as boatbuilders to the stars.

In the last 25 years of the 19th century and the first 25 years of the 20th, the Herreshoffs built some of America’s most historic yachts: Gloriana, Vigilant (the Herreshoff’s first America’s Cup defender), Defender, Columbia, and Resolution. At the same time HMC was building Cup boats, Nathanael designed and built a string of smaller sailing craft, culminating in what is arguably the most beautiful sailboat ever built: Alerion. Alerion was never eclipsed, but L. Francis Herreshoff equaled her with his famous Rozinante. The two stand at the pinnacle of sailboat design.

The photos in Herreshoff Sailboats are outstanding both in selection and reproduction. The 19th- and early 20th-century black-and-white photographs are especially good. Only minor quibbles can be made with the book. Early America’s Cup defenders are covered in excruciating detail. However, the Herreshoffs’smaller boats, which had a greater effect on the developing science of sailboat design than the towering J-boats, are mentioned only in passing. Also, pictures are often separated from their text, leading to a good deal of page flipping in a search for details.

Setting aside these minor flaws, Herreshoff Sailboats will find a place of honor on many a coffee table. It is a book you’ll pick up on a cold winter’s evening along with a cup of your favorite hot beverage. As you turn the pages it will take you back to a time when craftsmanship was everything and when beauty of line and function ruled supreme.

Back To Top


Four Guys in a Boat

by Pat McManus (Sheridan House, 2005; 106 pages; $10.95)
Reviewed by Eric Nelson, Celina, Ohio

The subtitle of this book could be, Larry, Moe and Curly go sailing with a friend, except there is precious little sailing in this book and very little to interest the readers of Good Old Boat.

Four Guys in a Boat describes how a group of college professors and administrators, “the guys” (membership in the group changes with time), overcame cold winters and their own midlife crises by chartering a series of boats in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Accounts of the suffering they endured as college profs reinforce the words of my first department chairman,”College teaching is hell, but it beats working for a living.”

The chapters tend to be repetitive accounts in which the protagonists fly to a location, get in a sailboat, and go to someplace in which they can drink exotic drinks (mostly based on rum), eat (mostly greasy hamburgers and cookies), ogle women (scantily clad or not clad at all), and entertain each other with sophomoric humor. Space is given to the guys’ discomfort while putting suntan lotion on the backs of their fellow guys . . . apparently due to concern about what unknown spectators might think of them.

Virtually nothing is included about the places visited, the people of the islands (except for bartenders, waitresses, and one boat groupie they turn down when she approaches them about a ride). The rest of that chapter is devoted to fantasizing about what would have happened if they had said yes to the groupie and their wives found out. Sailing is described briefly. The charter boats are a dreary listing of mid-size monohulls and catamarans. The catamarans astound the book’s author by their inability to sail close to the wind, a characteristic that 15 minutes in a Hobie Cat would have made clear. There isn’t a good old boat in the lot.

Sailing narratives are restricted to a brief description of the adventures of setting a spinnaker, followed by a briefer account of dousing said spinnaker. The boats are described with the same emotion as if one were describing a 1989 Chevy. Considerably more time is spent on misadventures with the dinghy than with the big boat.

One chapter is devoted to a vacation in which no boat is involved, plus a delivery trip on the Erie Canal and down to Chesapeake Bay. This chapter benefits the book in only one way: by increasing the word count.

After nine years of the same trip in different locations, the profs take a tenth anniversary fling by chartering a catamaran in the Bahamas. They drink rum, eat cookies, and ogle girls . . . all of which could have been done in Denver, Milwaukee, or any other town. When I finished the book, my principle emotion was relief.

Am I being unfair to the author? Is there perhaps some profound point I missed in my reading? Lin and Larry Pardey these guys ain’t. On further thought, perhaps the book should have been titled, A Guys’ Guide to Spring Break in the Caribbean or Junior College Kicks and Beyond. When it comes to sailing, these “guys” are definitely in need of an education.

Back To Top


Fast Track To Cruising: How to Go from Novice to Cruise-Ready in
Seven Days

by Steve and Doris Colgate (International Marine/ McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2005; 246 pages; $33.95)
Reviewed by Frank Salomonsen, Rochester, Minn.

The most important thing in life is to know what is important. Likewise, the most important thing in reading an instruction book on sailing is to know what is important to understand. The first hurdle for the beginning sailor is the volume of new language and terms with multiple meanings. Does this book cut it? You bet! Fast Track To Cruising gets you from A to Z with ease. It’s a must-have book to take aboard and also for year-round review and fine tuning.

Fast Track to Cruising is well organized and continuously informative with outstanding illustrations and photos to assist the novice. The clearly drawn diagrams and many of the photos have bold print comments in the margin. For example, in Chapter 3, where cycling through the points of sail is explained, bold print comments review the multiple meanings of the word “tack.”

Tack (noun)
1. Forward lower corner of a sail
2 A boat’s heading in relation to the wind, on a starboard tack
3. A course, when the boat is underway, it’s on a tack

Tack (verb)
1. To change direction from one side of wind to the other while sailing toward the wind

Comments such as this are helpful for the beginner trying to pick up on the sailing lingo.

Knowing what to do in a variety of conditions is helpful, but it is of greater value to the new sailor to understand why. The chapter on wind and sails is very helpful in understanding how the wind moves the boat. The illustrations clearly convey these concepts. The “test yourself” section at the end of each chapter reassures you that you are understanding what is important.

The authors include a discussion of when things do not go as planned, such as the accidental jibe, as well as when tacks don’t go as planned. Throughout the book are tips for understanding what some novices consider difficult subject matter, such as navigation. The author starts in Chapter 8 giving tips for using parallel rules and picks up the subject again later with navigation basics. Great illustrations help explain this subject on the first exposure.

Knot tying is scattered throughout the text as the knots are being used. A separate section on knot tying would have been more helpful, easier to find, when going back to practice.

All in all, it’s a great book featuring excellent instruction and practical advice. It is a thorough basic training manual and a complete source of reference for the more experienced sailor. After finishing this book, the novice will have the knowledge to get on a boat and fill the sails. With additional experience on the water he or she will be cruise-ready.

Back To Top


The Solitude of the Open Sea

by Greg Smith (Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 264 pages; $15.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Greg Smith set out in his sailboat to see the world. Those who choose to go along as readers of his book, The Solitude of the Open Sea, gain a fresh perspective of circumnavigating through the eyes of this realist.

Sailing around the world is not about anchoring in one tropical paradise after another. It is not a series of pristine dive sites with exotic fishes. Traveling by sailboat is more frequently about visiting the waterfront communities of countless third-world countries, about customs and public transportation, and about provisioning and boat maintenance. In this book, Greg offers honest observations of the people, the surroundings, and the activities of daily life for a sailor and those he encounters ashore.

He ponders about these cultural exchanges, wonders about how to really get to know the locals in various countries, and despairs on occasion over the language barriers and economic disparities which make mutual understanding almost futile.

Here is a sailor who does not descend upon a community as part of a merry band of cruisers. Instead he arrives thoughtfully and respectfully, making a serious attempt to understand the culture and lifestyle he finds.

In making his observations, Greg shares his philosophy of life and innermost feelings with his readers. It is as if we happened by his boat and asked, “So how was your voyage?” then sat down with him in the cockpit to listen to the answer. He makes no effort to impress fellow sailors. Greg is comfortable with who he is and what he has accomplished. He has learned much along the way; his passages have been both physical and psychological.

Even before completing the manuscript, I had already begun recommending this book to others. Greg went to sea with his eyes wide open. He left the rose-colored glasses at home and brought back a clear view of the world that opened to one who came, not as a tourist, but as a world traveler. He is just the sort of sailor with whom to see — really see — the world . . . the kind of sailor most of us would like to accompany on a circumnavigation. Because Greg took the time to write the book, here’s your chance to sign on as “armchair crew.” Hop aboard and enjoy the journey.

Back To Top


Sailing with Vancouver

by Sam McKinney (TouchWood Editions, 2004; 224 pages; $12.95)
Reviewed by Betty Brewer, Gabriola Island, British Columbia

Sail back into the mists of time with Captain Vancouver as he explores the Pacific Northwest aboard the HMS Discovery. In Sailing with Vancouver, Sam McKinney — in his 25-foot sailboat, Kea — uses Vancouver’s original 1792 log and charts to follow the route of Vancouver’s exploration of Washington and British Columbia’s inland seas.

These now very popular cruising destinations are made more interesting with snippets of history, giving insight into the story behind Vancouver’s exploration, in particular why islands, inlets, channels, and headlands were named.

Sailing with Vancouver gives the reader a sense of what it must have been like to explore these waters for the very first time, lacking charts or any knowledge of the landmarks and having natives of questionable friendliness as their only contacts.

This book would be wonderful to read while armchair cruising with modern charts or planning future voyages. It certainly adds a very special historical flavor aboard while cruising the intricate waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Back To Top


All Hands on Deck: Become Part of a Caribbean Sailing Adventure

by Gregg Nestor (AuthorHouse, 2005; 66 pages; $29.00)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

As a contributing editor with Good Old Boat, Gregg Nestor continues to impress us with the breadth of his sailing skills and the depth of his knowledge. Now he has shown us another impressive quality: an amazing creativity.

A couple of years ago, while on a cruise in the Caribbean, Gregg had an idea that has evolved into a young person’s sailing adventure like no other. It’s one part picture book, one part game, and one part educational tool. Called All Hands on Deck: Become Part of a Caribbean Sailing Adventure, this interactive book should be capable of captivating older children, teenagers, and adults alike.

Did I mention that Gregg’s a very good photographer too? The full-color photos on every page in this book are vivid and compelling. They draw readers in, and the interactive nature of the book keeps them there.

Start on one page which brings you to a decision point. One choice takes you to Page 12. Another takes you to Page 7. Seamanship points are awarded for good decisions and deducted for bad choices (even if the weather turns against you and it’s not your fault). That is the way it goes when sailing, isn’t it?

And so you work your way randomly through a book with brilliant images of the Caribbean collecting and losing points (if you’re competitive or enjoy the challenge) or simply navigating through the changing story as your choices dictate and enjoying the cruise with its pleasures and mishaps (if collecting points is not your thing).

There are moments aboard any cruising sailboat when the parents are feeling the most serene, but a kid’s attention will wander. As I recall, “boring!” is the phrase that accompanies this lack of ongoing stimulation. The next time you hear that exclamation, pull out All Hands on Deck and see what happens next. I’m willing to bet that serenity will be restored by a small book that can be enjoyed by one or a group. No age limitation. No previous experience necessary. No batteries required. It doesn’t beep, or ding, or play tinny recorded voices., What new talent will Gregg Nestor reveal next? Your guess is as good as mine. Please turn the page…

Back To Top


The T.W. Lawson: The Fate of the World’s Only Seven-Masted Schooner

by Thomas Hall (Orchid Hill Publishing, 2003; 113 pages; $49.95)
Reviewed by Glenn Kaufmann, Bloomington, Ind.

Twenty-five days into what should have been a two-week run, the T.W. Lawson approached the southwestern coast of England. Savaged by three gales, the ship had lost 19 of its 25 sails and all of its lifeboats during her crossing, only to find when the fog lifted and the snow cleared that she lay perilously close to the Western Rocks in the Isles of Scilly — a wind battered patch of mostly deserted rocks that had claimed nearly two shipwrecks for every island in the chain.

Yet it was the decisions made by Captain George Dow that would seal the ship’s fate, and cost the lives of 18 men. It is these decisions and their effect on the sailors and the locals who attempted to help which beat at the heart of Thomas Hall’s charming new book about this truly unique sailing vessel.

When the T.W. Lawson was rigged and launched in July 1902, despite her size and formidable canvas, she was already hopelessly out-classed and hard-pressed to prove her worth as a commercial vessel. It was the 20th century, and steam power ruled the roost.

It seems that one bad decision (to build the boat in the first place) led to money problems, which precipitated a far more catastrophic choice (the decision to send an unstable boat loaded with new cargo and a rookie crew on its first transatlantic run).

Tom Hall scrupulously examines every aspect of the T.W. Lawson, from the financial history of the ship’s backers, to the genealogy of the lifeboat crews who braved angry seas to warn Captain Dow and put one of their own pilots aboard to assist in moving the ship. Pieced together from historical accounts, interviews with the descendants of those involved, discussions with naval historians, and seasoned from numerous dives on the ship’s remains, Tom has constructed what must surely be the most complete telling of this tale.

While much of the factual information relating to the ship’s profitability, and the financiers’ lifestyles seems somewhat dry, the book is laid out much like an adult picture book, with large banners on each page with titles such as, “From the America Side”, “The Other Side of the Atlantic “, The Wreck” and “Making Sense of the Story.” This keeps the story from being too dry.

Though this may not be the zippiest read on the shelves, the book is thorough and organized, and it does a good job of presenting the compelling facts of an astounding, and avoidable, tragedy at sea.

Back To Top


Radar for Mariners

by David Burch (International Marine, 2005; 243 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Chuck Fort, Solomons, Md.

What do you want to know about radar? How it works? How to work it? How to pick the right one for your boat? Where to install it? How to use it for position-fixing, close-quarters maneuvering, or avoiding a squall? The answers to these and hundreds of other radar questions are in the pages of this book.

Radar for Mariners is actually two books and then some. Part One gives the reader a working knowledge of radar, which, by itself, might be enough for some people. But David Burch knows how to wring every last bit of useful data from radar and explains it in Part Two — navigating, piloting, and maneuvering by radar, performance, limitations, and even a comprehensive look at radar as it relates to the Navigation Rules.

The “then some” is an interactive CD (Windows only) with a trial version of a radar simulator, sample radar manuals, printable plotting aids, and even a complete PDF copy of the Navigation Rules. The book is well illustrated with charts, drawings, and photos of actual radar screens (some of which are a bit fuzzy). It’s hard to imagine a more complete treatment of the subject for sailors

David Burch, director of the Starpath School of Navigation, is no stranger to teaching mariners about stars, weather, and navigation. With a Ph.D. in physics, he obviously knows what he’s talking about. However, getting complex ideas across in print is not always easy.

David accomplishes this with clear, understandable language that allows his enthusiasm for the subject to come across. His goal is to make you an expert small-craft radar operator. With this book and some practice at the screen, you’ll feel that you’re finally getting your money’s worth out of that mysterious dome.

Radar is an electronic tool the operation of which takes much more interpretation than any other — too little knowledge can be just as dangerous as none. Radar for Mariners will help you understand how radar works, explain its limitations, and show you how to get the full use of your radar’s functions. This book should show up on the radar screen of anyone with radar or contemplating getting one. I can’t wait to go to my boat and stop playing with my radar and start using it.

Back To Top


Illustrated Navigation

by Ivar Dedekam (Fernhurst Books, 2004; 84 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

The first book ever sold by Good Old Boat magazine — call it the beginning of our Good Old Bookshelf — was the first edition of Illustrated Sail & Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam. Ivar, a Norwegian, needed a North American importer and distributor for his book, and we served in that capacity until his book got so popular that he was able to work with larger distributors.

We took on his book in those days (approximately 1999) as a “special project” because Good Old Boat co-founder Jerry Powlas was so impressed with Ivar’s explanations and illustrations on the subject of sail and rig tuning. We weren’t exactly in the business of selling books, but Ivar had something special, and we wanted to help.

Fast forward to 2005. Ivar has a new book out, another hit as it turns out, and we learned about it almost by chance. Our bookshelf has grown beyond our wildest imaginings. And Ivar’s book publishing business has blossomed even beyond that.

As with his previous book, the new one, Illustrated Navigation, is heavy with computer graphics and light on text. But it is amazingly concise and useful. It gives the reader a huge volume of useful information in a small package.

Illustrated Navigation is divided between traditional navigation practices, electronic equipment and methods, and a useful overview of celestial navigation theory. Traditional navigation includes all the areas covered in a many-hour navigation class: charts, lat and lon, position, variation and deviation, compass, speed logs and depth sounders, plotting instruments, leeway, dead reckoning and bearings, the buoyage system, tides and currents, and navigation lights.

The electronic section takes a look at the GPS system and receivers, chartplotters, waypoints and routes, equipment displays and receivers, radar theory and operation, and collision avoidance.

Celestial navigation gets a turn also. This section includes the principles of celestial navigation, the sun’s geographic position, and an astronomical model. It looks at hour angles, noon sights, measuring the sun’s altitude, time zones, working a sight, sight reduction tables, plotting position lines, corrections, stars including Polaris, and using a celestial nav calculator.

One caveat for those of us in North America: Ivar’s books are translated into English by a British speaker, so when he recommends having a torch aboard, for example, he’s not playing with fire. Bring your flashlight instead.

A more major issue is with his description of the IALA A buoyage system. In North and South America and the Philippines, we use the IALA B system. So red and green markers are reversed in this book. But Ivar does make this point clear, if the reader is paying attention. If you cruise far and wide, you have to “speak both buoyage languages” anyway. Here’s an introduction for you.

A good book? You bet. Ivar Dedekam”s done it again.

Back To Top


Fair Wind and Plenty of It

by Rigel Crockett (Rodale, 2005; 392 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Jim Daniels, Port Townsend, Wash.

“This is the pleasure of life at sea — fine weather, day after day without interruption — fair wind and plenty of it — and homeward bound.” So begins this story, A Modern-Day Tall Ship Adventure. The quote is from Two Years Before the Mast, written in 1840 by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. The significance of that book, A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea, is explained by Henry Dana in a preface: so many stories (such as J. Fenimore Cooper’s) were told by naval officers or passengers. A common sailor has “a very different view of the whole matter.” Rigel Crockett gives us that view in our own time, the “light and the dark together.”

A year and a half at sea, completing a square-rigged barque while maintaining and repairing her on her maiden voyage is like no cruise you’ll ever take aboard your boat. The author and other seasoned professionals are joined by fare-paying crew who work the ship day and night themselves — only one of the many points of dissension to come. They go through 13 ship’s cooks on the way. From broken steering to mutiny, there are plenty of hardships. Ten crewmembers wanting refunds (when jumping ship) threaten the whole project. And yet, through it all, this is more than a romantic adventure; it’s a love story.

The details, whether of furling a square mizzen topmast stays’l or how the fire in the galley is fought, make this trip a visual and physical experience. The personal insight into the lives and personalities entwined before the mast and on the quarterdeck make it real. As for the “claustrophobia brought on by this incestuous community,” well, “it just goes to show that sometimes misery can permeate the adventure of a lifetime.” Can logging 232 nautical miles under sail in one day make up for the misery? Does day after day, week after week, and month upon month of one tropical paradise after another count for more than the drudgery of painting over rust on wet steel? Yes.

The Barque Picton Castle, the spectacle of flying fish hitting sail and the allure of swimming with sharks are not the only elements of romance. “To Ariel” is the dedication, and it’s the beginning of many a letter written between exotic ports of call. And to Ariel this able-bodied seaman returns, while six others of the crew become three married couples at the end of their voyage — “and homeward bound.”

Back To Top


Stikky Night Skies

no author listed, (Lawrence Holt Books, 2003; 234 pages; $12)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Heavenly. That’s the way I would describe night sailing. Since seeing the book, Stikky Night Skies, now I know why. (“Stikky” is the name of a growing series of books because each book offers “Essential stuff that stikks in your head.”) Night sailing is about being able to see the stars as never before. Night sailing is about getting away from the city skies and the marina lights. Night sailing is about being up in the middle of the night when it’s dark outside. On a clear night on the water the stars are diamonds on a velvet cloth.

But which ones are which? I’ve always wanted to know. So when we received a copy of Stikky Night Skies, I gave it a whirl and was extremely impressed . . . so much so that I have been carrying this book around for two months (to the East Coast and back while traveling, even) in an effort to find a sky dark enough to practice what I have learned.

This book will get any kid or adult beginner star-seeker instantly involved. With the help of this book I’ve learned to identify six constellations: Orion, Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Taurus, Cygnus, and Pleiades. I can find these four stars: Betelgeuse, Polaris, Vega, and Sirius. I know where to look in the night sky for the planets and the Milky Way. I know how to find north using Polaris. It’s a heck of a start for a beginner and (as I write this in early summer) I can’t wait to go night sailing where the stars are at their best!

This book is a series of practice pages with stars depicted and useful and fun information every so often. The sky rotates on you (just as the real sky will do) so you don’t get complacent, and the scale is changed from time to time to include more or fewer of the heavenly bodies. This last part is a bit disorienting (I don’t expect the real sky to do that to me), but I was able to catch on.

The Stikky folks are right: they have a way of presenting this information so that it stikks in the reader’s head. Since I’ve always wanted to know more, I’m grateful for the opportunity. They impart this wisdom to their readers, and it’s worth sharing here: “You would not have gotten far in ancient times without knowing your way around the night sky. Indeed, it may be the only thing your distant ancestors would recognize today.”

Back To Top


A Mariner’s Miscellany

by Peter H. Spectre (Sheridan House, Seafarer Books, 2005, 289 pages, $19.95)
Reviewed by George Zimmerman, Olympia, Wash.

The romance of the sea is a strange thing. It manages to cling to some extent to every thing that floats. – C. Fox Smith

On a rainy spring night, I received a package from Good Old Boat. I figured it was the book I had promised to review. Opening the package, I saw on the book cover an illustration of a three-masted sailing ship, making her ways in a heavy sea. I smiled, ready to spend time on a ship, with salty characters, and an intricate plot . . . the perfect way to spend a rainy night.

Instead, I was greeted with chapter after chapter of boating and marine-related trivia, facts, quotes, poems, and chronologies. Where was my engaging novel? Surprised and intrigued, I sat down and read the first few chapters. Here, I realized, was the answer to all those questions you have as you learn about sailing. Questions like: Where in the world did the term “starboard” come from? Or, if a wind is blowing from the north toward the south, do you call it a north wind or a south wind?

A Mariner’s Miscellany is a compilation of all things nautical. Do you want to know the how and the why of signal salutes during the age of sail or what L. Francis Herreshoff thought were the four most important qualifications needed to undertake long-distance voyaging? Do you know the difference between natural fiber and modern synthetic rope? This book will tell you. You can even find a recipe for making grog. These and thousands of other facts — practical, informative, or just interesting — can be found in this book.

Author Peter Spectre is well-qualified to undertake such a massive undertaking. He’s editor of Maine Boats & Harbors magazine and former editor of WoodenBoat magazine. The Mariner’s Book of Days, A Passage in Time, A Goodly Ship, and several other marine-related books are among his literary credits.

This is not a book you sit down and read in one setting. Rather, it is a resource you consult when you want to find the why or where an expression came from or to find out what other sailors thought when they encountered a similar problem or situation. A Mariner’s Miscellany will also prove useful for writers; it is an excellent source of facts, quotes, and their historical origins

I have a tough time reading poems so the abundance of poetic passages caused tough sledding for me at times. The absence of a detailed index was another surprise. With an index I would be able to look up the subject being argued, cite the reference, and end those crazy arguments that sailors so often have when they get together. In the hands of those of us with sea lawyers as friends, this compendium of knowledge could be the lawyers’ undoing.

A Mariner’s Miscellany is a delightful and interesting book for those who value the intellectual side of boating. It deserves a spot on the dedicated mariner’s bookshelf.

Back To Top


The Affordable Yacht: How to Buy a Sailboat on a Budget /
Sailing on a Shoestring: How to Enjoy Your Yacht More for Less Money

by Susan Peterson Gateley (no publisher needed, you’ll see why, 2005, 30 pages each; $3.00 each)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Susan Peterson Gateley, a frequent contributor to Good Old Boat magazine, is amazing in her ability to make money in and around and through her love of sailing. She has supported her sailing habit since 1981 through writing and since 1997 with charters. She’s also an expert at not spending much of the money she earns. Her newest and very novel approach, which combines both skills, is the sale of eBooks. These $3 books are printed pages, rather than official bound books, but they offer a lot of information and the price is right.

The first, The Affordable Yacht: How to Buy a Sailboat on a Budget, is about 30 pages focused on helping dreamers and doers get afloat and go now. This booklet helps readers find an inexpensive boat and evaluate her condition and value. Sections include information you’ll need before you buy, the purchase itself, and getting started sailing on a budget

The second eBook is Sailing on a Shoestring: How to Enjoy Your Yacht More for Less Money. This is a guide for people with large dreams and modest incomes. As Susan tells us, there’s a boat out there for every budget, and this 30-page booklet gives you the Cliff Notes overview of many years ‘ worth of Susan’s experience and expertise. She’s completely qualified to tell us what she knows.

Susan has more than 30 years of experience as a budget boater sailing on a 19-foot Lightning for 10 years, a 23-foot wooden sloop for 17 years, and currently on a 32-foot Chris-Craft sloop. She and her husband just bought a fourth boat, a fixer-upper, on eBay. There will be a book or a booklet on that subject in the future, guaranteed!

These booklets can be downloaded as pdf files or sent as Microsoft Word attachments in an email message. To get the pdf file, go to http://www.brownroad.com. To get a Word document, go to Susan’s website at http://www.silverwaters.com.

Back To Top


The Last Voyage of the Lucette

by Douglas Robertson (Seafarer Books; Sheridan House, 2005; 372 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wis.

Back in the late 1970s, when I first felt the need to sail, I read everything our local library had on sailing and the adventure of the sea. One book I remember particularly well was Survive the Savage Sea, the story of Dougal Robertson and his family’s 38 days afloat in the South Pacific after their yacht, Lucette, had been sunk by a pod of killer whales. Now Dougal’s son Douglas, who survived the ordeal at the age of 18, has compiled a larger edition entitled The Last Voyage of the Lucette. While the original gives an account of how the family survived after they were sunk, this larger version, which includes the full text of Survive the Savage Sea, explores the challenges the family faced in the months and years leading up to their sinking.

The Last Voyage of the Lucette begins with Dougal’s autobiographical account of his experiences during World War II as a young officer aboard a freighter that was sunk by the Japanese, killing his wife and son. After the war he remarried and eventually gave up a life at sea for that of a dairy farmer in England with his new family. We learn about their hardships while trying to survive on the meager profits that life on the farm afforded them, their decision to sail around the world, and their cruise up to the time they were sunk off the Galapagos Islands. In addition to the full text of Survive the Savage Sea, there is some follow-up information on where the family is today, as well as 16 color photographs, several line drawings, and maps of their route.

Pop psychology says that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Many of the struggles the Robertsons faced are common to any family, but they play a more crucial role on a small boat in a hostile environment where there is little, if any, room for error or privacy. When one realizes the difficulties they faced on the farm and in the early days of their cruise, one can see how the family bonds were created and how each individual acquired the deep reserves of personal strength that carried him or her through their ordeal. Sir Robin Knox-Johnson writes in the foreward that both books “should be compulsory reading for anyone planning a world cruise.” While it is true that both books contain a lot of useful information, we can learn more from them than survival skills for the open sea.

Back To Top


Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain,
Repair, and Improve Your Boat’s Essential Systems, Third Edition

by Nigel Calder (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2005; 818 pages; $49.95)
Reviewed by Jerry Powlas, Minneapolis, Minn.

This is the one book that should be aboard every cruising sailboat. When the first edition came out, I read it cover-to-cover. When the second edition came out, a flip through the pages showed some updates, but basically it was very much the same book. When I had a need, I could find what I was looking for in either one (or in some cases neither one).

This third edition parts company with the first two editions. The basic organization is still there, but the material is very different, reflecting the latest developments in equipment and changes in regulations. There seems to be a lot more material in the third edition, probably because sailboats and the equipment have gotten a lot more complicated.

If you have the first or second edition do you need to pay the big bucks for the third edition? In most cases, yes. If you have an older boat that you have kept very simple and do not plan to make any upgrades, you might get by. Otherwise you will be glad to have the third edition on your boat’s bookshelf. I’ll probably have to have two: one for the office and one for the boat.

Back To Top


Sir Peter Blake: An Amazing Life

by Alan Sefton (Sheridan House, 2004; 444 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Jerry Richter, Reading, Pa.

If you want to learn about Sir Peter Blake, who he was, what he was like, why people followed him, or anything else about what made this driven man tick, this is not the book for you. If you want to learn about New Zealand’s rise to prominence in the world of competitive bluewater sailing, how a sailing syndicate is formed and works, and other “inside information” about the international racing world, this is the book for you.

Alan Sefton, a journalist and long-time associate and business partner of Peter Blake, provides a detailed history of Peter’s sailing career, and with it the rise of New Zealand to international yacht racing leadership. He describes in intimate detail — sometimes almost hour by hour — just about every race in which Peter took part, from the 1974 Cape Town-Rio de Janeiro race in which he served as a young watch leader to his final competitive sailing venture as syndicate head of Team New Zealand in the 2000 successful defense of the America’s Cup. The details include how crew is selected, funds are raised, designers are chosen, and syndicates are formed. However, Peter Blake never really comes alive in this book. He is always there on the boat, in the syndicate boardroom, at the designer’s office, but as a cardboard cutout, not a rounded person. The closest that Alan comes to digging below the surface is in the epilogue where he touches on Peter as a person through the reminiscences of those who knew him at various stages of his life. These occur as interviews following Peter’s tragic death at the hands of bandits in the Amazon.

While this book does not, in my opinion, succeed as a biography, it is excellent as a history of the rise to prominence of New Zealand as a powerhouse in the international sailing world. If you are looking for rich descriptions of ocean racing, and/or insights into the world of the sailing “business” at its highest levels, this book succeeds admirably.

Back To Top


Ghost Ships: Tales of Abandoned, Doomed, and Haunted Vessels

by Angus Konstam (Lyons Press, 2005; 144 pages; $24.95)
Review by Dennis J. Figley, Ashland, Ohio

“The notion of the ghost ship has long caught the imagination of the public . . . this popularity reflects our abiding interest in two linked phenomenon; mysteries of the sea and inexplicable, apparently supernatural events.”

This observation by the author rings true for me. While on summer vacation on Manitoulin Island, I had the opportunity to pick up this book and read it. A couple days of rainy weather made a perfect setting for the subject as the fog and mist rolled across the tiny lake. And what could be more perfect as Halloween is on our minds this month?

For this book, Angus Konstam has gathered stories of ghost ships, haunted ships, ships with bad luck, and even ships that were considered lucky ships but still met tragic ends. Some of the events are well known, such as the discovery of the Mary Celeste adrift and apparently abandoned in 1872 some 600 miles west of the coast of Spain. This mystery still goes unsolved. And, of course, the Flying Dutchman legend is the mother of all ghost ship stories. One event that I vividly remember was the loss of the U.S. Navy’s new nuclear submarine, USS Thresher, in April 1963.

Other stories and events were new to me. I had heard of the SS Queen Mary, but I didn’t know she was thought to be haunted. I’d never heard of the haunted ships HMS Asp, SS Great Eastern and SS St Paul. The book covers some of the tragedies that have given the Bermuda Triangle its notoriety. Also, there are several stories of submarines that are still “on patrol” as they never returned from their final missions and left no clues as to their fate.

The author states, “I freely admit that I am highly skeptical of any suggestion of supernatural forces at work.” Likewise, I am skeptical of attributing these mysteries to supernatural causes and find it refreshing that he is not quick to go down that path. But he also freely admits that the evidence in some of these stories defies logic even though much of it is presented by very credible witnesses.

Angus Konstam was born and reared in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. He has been curator of several museums in the U.S. and Europe including the Tower Museum in London and Mel Fisher’s Museum in Key West. He has more than 60 books to his credit, mostly dealing with military and nautical history. The list of his titles has whetted my appetite to read more of his works.

I really appreciate that Angus put his museum curator experience to work and incorporated many fine old engravings, paintings, and photographs in this book.

I did find several errors, typos, and contradictions in the book. There were several dates listed for the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. He stated the length of the USS Maine, destroyed in an explosion in Havana in 1898, as 919 feet when she was only 319 feet long according the U.S. Navy historical website. The map that goes with the text of Donald Crowhurst’s hoax states he spent his time in the South Pacific when, according to Crowhurst’s own logs, he spent eight months sailing around in the south Atlantic while his competitors were busy singlehanding their boats in the Golden Globe Around the World Race. These are merely production errors, I’m sure.

If you have, as I do, an abiding interest in the mysteries of the sea, I recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Back To Top


Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing

by John Vigor (Sheridan House, 2005; 208 pages; $17.95)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

With his newest book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing, John Vigor alternates between being a wise old salt, a nautical curmudgeon, a patient teacher offering safety tips to a new sailor, and the next sailor on the dock who cheerfully spouts his own take on controversial sailing subjects.

The problem is that there is no lack of sailing information out there; the docks are awash in opinionated sailors. As John says, “It can be very frustrating trying to get the information you need because the advice you receive from one sailor often conflicts with the advice from another. Unfortunately, what works for one sailor on one boat might not work for another on another boat.” How true. For instance, John explains that your keel shape should dictate your storm tactics. You’ll find it hard to locate that oh-so-true advice anywhere else. For my money, John is one of the best of the breed, so sailors would do well to pay attention to the opinions expressed in this book . . . even the curmudgeonly ones.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing is organized alphabetically by topic with a tip at the end of each entry. For example, John explains about fear and anxiety as normal and important emotions and winds up with the following tip: “Apprehension before a voyage often disappears the moment you get under way and always diminishes with experience.” Or take binoculars. John advises the sailor to “be content with a modest magnification” because anything more powerful than 7 x 50 is a waste of money. He concludes with this tip: “Good binoculars are expensive. Guard yours carefully and buy a second, cheap pair for visitors who keep changing your settings and dropping your glasses.”

There now. That was an example of John when he’s both wise and curmudgeonly. You want controversial? John will explain why you don’t need battens in your mainsail. That is sure to start an argument on the dock. And he tells his readers that gasoline engines have many advantages over diesel. He’s right, of course, but you’ll never read those words in any of today’s sailing magazines, which have apparently agreed — in some behind-the-scenes meeting — that gasoline inboards are the number one danger to sailors.

The teacher providing safety tips is there in John’s thoughtful advice about climbing the mast and about the dangers of dinghies. When it comes to climbing the mast, he points out that the height is enough that a fall could kill you, so don’t hand over the responsibility for your safety when you go up the mast. “It’s your life and your responsibility,” John says and then tells you what precautions to take. There’s good advice from a seasoned seaman on the subject of dinghies also. John notes that hard dinghies can capsize and that inflatables can be blown out to sea. He says, “Make up a small safety pack for your dinghy (besides oars and lifejackets): flashlight, compass, bailer, and a spare drain plug. A hand-held VHF radio could be a lifesaver.”

This book is easy to read. It imparts some very valuable information in a fun package (particularly with the marvelous and zany illustrations by Tom Payne). Get it for the newbies in your family or on the dock. Hand it to friends who plan to come sailing with you. As John says, “If this book has a goal, it is to encourage beginners of all ages to start sailing with confidence and to dispel some of those persistent myths prevalent among many experienced sailors.”

At the end John adds an appendix with the most useful tables and formulas compiled from many of his other best-selling books. This, he says, is the information “I wish I’d known about.” And he adds a list of the books he wishes someone had told him to read. Following this advice would do us all good. Buy the book and pass this sort of wisdom along.

Back To Top


The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat – The Definitive Guide for Liveaboards

by Mark Nicholas (Paradise Cay Publications, 2005; 284 pages; $17.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Mark Nicholas is an expert. He’s lived the life and learned many lessons the hard way. His goal in writing The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is to share with readers all it takes to live aboard wisely and enjoy it. How? By being prepared. He believes there are essentials to living on a boat, so why not know what those basics are before embarking on the life?

You’ll find guidelines for choosing the right boat, purchasing it, and moving onboard. Whether or not you are a seasoned boater, you may find the pages covering general boating terminology a helpful way to make sure you know your boat. Next, examine the section on choosing a marina.

I found “Estimating Costs,” to be one of the most useful chapters in the book. Why make any kind of move without knowing what the financial outcome will be? Numerous easy-to-read comparison charts are accompanied by text explaining itemized costs. For example: The monthly cost comparison table is a real eye-opener. Want-to-be liveaboards are presented with the possible costs (for varying types and sizes of boats) that come along with the lifestyle — everything from your boat payment, insurance, slip fees, utilities, storage, parking, and more.

Read on to find out how to prepare to live aboard, and things to look at when families, children, and pets live aboard. This really makes one think. For instance, how do you keep cat litter contained?

In his chapter titled “Government Oversight,” Mark reminds us that government regulations require our homes (boats, in this case), be open for inspection. While many may consider the liveaboard lifestyle a way to get away from society, the effects of terrorism, and the state of the world in general, does impact life, whether we are land or sea dwellers. This section is a must-read for all. Some of the topics covered are:
• General boating requirements when on the water
• Safety laws
• Alcohol and drug use
• Search and seizure
• Forfeiture
• International law
Whether you are planning to move aboard, spend extended long vacations aboard, or already are a liveaboard, The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is a great addition to any boat book library. Nicholas does a great job preparing us to enjoy living aboard — wisely.

Back To Top


Ships’ Figure Heads in Australia

by Gordon Marshall (Tangee Publishing, 2003; 126 pages; $30)
Reviewed by Vic Chambers, Junction City, Ore.

One can’t read Ships’ Figure Heads in Australia without falling in love again with the great era of sailing that laid the foundation of many civilizations over the past 4,000 years. Author Gordon Marshall has brought us a book that inspires and educates at the same time. When you start reading, you’ll be engrossed by the pull of the past and perhaps find yourself hoping that the grand ships of the world will someday again be adorned by figureheads.

According to the author, more than 500 figureheads were made in Australia from the earliest recorded one, built in 1832, until the last one, built in 1903. Of such an art and dedicated craft only 14 are known to survive. Of the aboriginal figureheads, the only Australian type to survive is one from the Boomerang of 1889. It is now housed in the Polly Woodside Museum in Victoria. Until the modern revival, the last figurehead made in Australia was for the ketch, Alma, in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1903. Gordon records that, of the figureheads made in New South Wales, the last one was of a dog fitted to the 56-foot schooner, Talbot, in 1896.

A registry of ships built in Australia and the figureheads on them shows a small number of ships were fitted with figureheads and very few of these have survived. Billetheads (ornamental carvings) were fitted to many ships as alternatives to figureheads from as early as the mid-1700s, some for economic reasons and others because some believed figureheads to be idolatrous. Figureheads were much more than ornamental, they embodied the eyes and served as the protectors of their ships.

Wherever they went, “Neptune’s wooden angels,” as the author calls them, attracted attention and built romantic ideas. If they could talk, oh the tales they’d tell! Instead, Gordon Marshall tells us their stories.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of ships’ figureheads and the call and romance of the sea. Gordon has compiled a large volume of information into a very readable format, both for the serious researcher of ships’ figureheads and for the armchair sailor. As for the layout of the book, however, I found not having the photos and text together a little disquieting since the reader has to stop reading and turn a page or two to see a photo before returning to the text. I’m sure if it had been possible, the author and publisher would have put text and photos on facing pages.

With that noted exception, I can truly say that Gordon Marshall has done a valuable service for the sailing family. He has brought us in touch with our past. Well done, Gordon, well done. This book is available directly from Tangee Publishing. Contact them by email, http://www.tangeepublishing.com, or call +61 8 9293-1915.

Back To Top


Fiberglass Repair: Polyester or Epoxy

by David and Zora Aiken (Cornell Maritime Press, 2005; 120 pages; $10.50)
Review by Bill Sandifer, Diamondhead, Miss.

Fiberglass Repair: Polyester or Epoxy is a useful book for anyone who is considering fiberglass repair, whether novice or old pro. It’s full of valid techniques that will yield a professional job if the directions are followed exactly. There are chapters on materials, tools, cautions (safety), methods, touch-ups, holes, cores, blisters, stiffeners, and many other applications. There is a glossary, a problem-solving section, and an index. The book is very complete, and I recommend it.

However, I have a few minor suggestions that should not diminish the overall value of the book as a resource. There are a few things that might confuse the novice, for example. The authors start out discussing “woven fabric” and promptly begin to substitute the term “cloth.” I’m not sure the novice would make that transition in terminology. I would also like to see the statement that fiberglass is comprised of fiberglass and resin more clearly defined. Without a catalyst, this is going to be a very sticky mess. While they’re at it, the authors discuss the need for a catalyst briefly but do not point out that more is not better and that more may react too fast for usefulness, burst into flame, or not harden at all. Epoxy resin, if mixed with too little catalyst, will eventually harden; polyester resin with too little catalyst may never harden.

There is a good chapter on cautions that contains safety information which could perhaps even be further emphasized. The authors do not describe what happens when you over-catalyze a pot of resin or simply leave it in the mixing can in the sun too long (it will burst into flame and give off noxious gases). The book discusses smoking catalyst but does not say it will burn. Polyester resin is an oil-based product; when it flames, it is equivalent to napalm in the boat.

The book treats polyester resin in depth but does not go into as much detail about epoxy resin. For good old boaters, epoxy resin and catalyst is the preferred — although more expensive — product to use for repairs. Epoxy will adhere to most surfaces for as long as desired. Polyester has a harder time adhering to the old fiberglass you’ll face in any repair situation.

Those minor quibbles aside, this book belongs in every toolbox for the fiberglass repairer. Buy it and keep it handy.

Back To Top


Managing the Waterway

by Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications LLC, 2005; 172 pages; $24.95)
Review by Greg Mansfield, Washington, N.C.

When I received this waterway guide, I wondered how it could be different from the others I’ve seen and used. Well, believe me, it is different. Managing the Waterway contains all the information (except the charts) that you would like to have to travel the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk to Biscayne Bay. In addition to the usual anchorage, marina, and piloting things you need to know, the authors included things you want to know from many sources. The authors call their publication “an enriched guide.”

And enriched it is, especially in the organization of information. Mark and Diana Doyle have used layout to help organize and present the ICW information in a style that makes this guide exceptionally easy to use. Like most ICW guides, the information is presented in the order of travel, in this case north to south, state by state. Each state section begins with a state big picture and a state introduction.

The big picture contains the navigational information — a map of the coastal part of the state showing the ICW track, the charts required for this section, and a bridge summary. Another enrichment is the inclusion on the map of the names of cities, counties, NOAA towers, and other geographical features used in NOAA weather broadcasts. These help with interpreting NOAA weather broadcasts.

The state introduction gives us reference and advice for that section of the ICW. Included are regional characteristics and navigational concerns for the upcoming section of travel.

At the top of each navigation page is a rolling header that includes USCG and towboat VHF channels and telephone numbers, upcoming bridges, and NOAA weather stations. The side margins detail bridges, anchorages, and marinas, complete with GPS coordinates and tidal ranges. The page body contains local lore and color — an enrichment of 266 interpretive vignettes and 200 pictures and illustrations.

The end of each section has tables that list marine facilities and retail chandleries within easy reach of marinas. Of particular note are the pages with waterway business cards that you can photocopy and take ashore with you.

My wife and I have only traveled the ICW between Norfolk and Morehead City, so I checked the information for this part against our experience. The transit, anchorage, and marina information matched what we have found along the way. The guide is spiral-bound to lie flat and has a UV-coated cover. If you are in the market for an ICW guide, this is the one to get. Publisher Mark Doyle has even made a special offer for the readers of Good Old Boat. Save $5 off the cover price by logging on to this page: http://www.managingthewaterway.com/goodoldboat.htm.

Back To Top


After Captiva

by Charles House (Pub This Press, 2005; 294 pages; $16.99)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Charles House has been widely praised for his biographical book, The Outrageous Life of Henry Faulkner. His second book, a novel, will appeal to a more limited audience. His main characters are sailors who spend a portion of their time aboard, an activity which narrows the audience, since sailors — as a segment of the population — are few and far between.

The sailing takes place off Florida’s West Coast. Other settings include the Kentucky hills, with their captivating charm, and Cincinnati, Ohio, at its wintertime dreariest. Charles has a way with words and can paint a beautiful scene, whether it is the mountains’ morning mist or the sea. He’s a graphic artist whose eye for imagery is very well developed. And he does another thing delightfully well: he takes his reader inside the head of an art professor who visualizes the scenes that unfold before him as they might be painted by artists he has studied. A very interesting perspective.

Charles made me laugh out loud with his description of a jibe with a sailor at the helm assisted by a brand-new recruit:
He sucked up his nerve and pushed the tiller all the way to the left, making the bow turn to the right. With the side of the main now exposed to the wind Bolero heeled so far that the water was up to the starboard ports. Shiloh had both arms wrapped around the mast. His feet were in the water.
“Hang on,” Homer yelled.
“Good idea!”
As the boat continued its turn to the right, the wind, now behind them, caught the main from the other side. It slammed the boom so hard to the left that it jerked the mainsheet out of Homer’s hand. The boom caught up at the end of the mainsheet and stopped so abruptly the boat shuddered from stem to stern. Now the boat was thrown on its left side. Shiloh, arms still wrapped around the mast, swung like a rag doll to that side, again soaking his pants to the knees in the water that was swirling down the port sidedeck.
The boat righted itself without help from Homer. He stood white-faced in the cockpit while Shiloh pulled himself back to the cabintop.
“What did you say that was?” he said, his color almost as white as Homer’s.
“A jibe.”
Shiloh pondered that for a moment. He sat still on the cabintop as Homer reined in some of the mainsheet and let the wind blow them up the channel on a run. The crashing and banging had been replaced by a slippery, wallowing movement that was much easier on the nerves.
“How often do you reckon you have to do that jibe?” Shiloh asked.
“Never again, I hope. Not like that anyway.”
“You know,” Shiloh said after a pause. “I thought this sailing business was for mild-mannered fellers. Looks to me like a feller could get hisself killed out here.”

Unfortunately, Charles’ characters are too dysfunctional for my taste. They’re not as interested in what’s going on around them as they are in what’s going on inside them. They spend too much time in bars and have too many hangovers and too many infidelities. Nonetheless, some sailors will enjoy the sailing in this book, and artists will enjoy the visual and literary descriptions.

Charles is breaking ground in print-on-demand publishing. You can order his book at http://www.pubthis.com or ask any bookstore to order it for you.

Back To Top


Sailing Dreams: Volume One

(Beowulf Press – SetSail.com, 2005; 1.5 hour DVD; $12.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Do you dream of sailing? Maybe you’re a seasoned sailor . . . or a novice who simply loves the water and the very thought of sailing. The only prerequisite you’ll need to enjoy this DVD is a desire to experience the sights and sounds of sailing the open sea.

“If you’re stuck behind the desk but yearn for the sights and sounds of the open ocean, this DVD was designed for you,” Linda Dashew states. Linda and her husband, Steve, filmed the scenes for Sailing Dreams while cruising over 200,000 miles.

Meant to “soothe, invigorate, and inspire,” sections include Beowulf, Australs, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Marquesas to San Diego. If you want to relax, it’s recommended that you set Sailing Dreams to Beowulf and Fiji to enjoy the rustling of the sails and rush of water as you cut through the sea on your sailing vessel. The colorful spinnaker against the white sails and blue sky is a sight to see. And if you look forward to more exciting footage, the Australs or Tonga sections fit the bill, with rougher seas and salt spray you’ll swear you can feel on your face.

This “sailing movie” (sailing scenes sans plot) is perfect as background, playing on a big screen TV at parties, or for watching before falling into a peaceful slumber at night. You’ll be treated to a multitude of views encompassing incredible scenery, from every imaginable angle. Just when you least expect it, a sunset fills the screen with awesome oranges and pinks. You might want to hit the freeze frame so you can enjoy the sight just a few seconds longer.

What’s lacking? I wanted to feel the wind as it blew — strong gusts or small puffs. I wished to feel the hot penetrating sun of Tahiti or the rain the thunderheads promised to deliver on my skin. To imagine the swaying of the vessel as she gracefully flew over miles of ocean just wasn’t enough. I wanted to be there — adjusting the mainsail or rolling out the jib.

Perhaps the Dashews’ objective was to entice the observer to want more. If that’s the case, they definitely accomplish their goal with this DVD.

Back To Top


Get Ready to Cruise
Get Ready to Cross Oceans

2 DVDs by Lin and Larry Pardey (L&L Pardey, 2005; 90 minutes each; $29.95 each)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

If you enjoy time with Lin and Larry Pardey (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to view their two new DVDs, Get Ready to Cruise and Get Ready to Cross Oceans. These professionally produced disks are the next best thing to a visit aboard Taleisin and the Pardeys’ second boat, Thelma, a 110-year-old racing yacht which they are restoring.

This dynamic sailing couple, veritable Energizer Bunnies of the cruising set, just keep cruising, learning, and passing along what wisdom they have acquired. With more than 65,000 miles of voyaging on Taleisin alone, that wisdom is remarkable.

When it comes to teaching others what they’ve discovered, Lin and Larry can’t help themselves, and we’re all grateful that their “as long as it’s fun” condition on their own cruising has not yet expired. They, in turn, make it fun for those who dream of following in their wake, as well as those who have a cruising vision of a completely different hue.

Whatever your sailing goals may be, Lin and Larry take you aboard and show you what they’ve found that works for them. They don’t claim that you must do it exactly their way. You need not build your own boat first or head out without an engine. They don’t preach, and they don’t condescend. They tell it like it is for them, with the full awareness that your boat may be built of fiberglass, have a different keel configuration, and offer a suite of electronic navigation devices. You’ll find much in common with these fellow sailors, just the same, and you’ll enjoy the virtual time you share together. I guarantee it.

These DVDs offer fresh information and an introduction to the Pardeys’ new love, Thelma, while delivering some of the highlights of previously filmed material from their video collection: Cruising with Lin and Larry Pardey, The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, Voyaging Hints for Upgrading Your Cruising Boat, and Cruising Coral Seas.

These disks are high on my list as potential gifts for sailing friends as the holiday season approaches. I have a hunch you’ll agree. Or treat yourself. That’s allowed also.

Back To Top


A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea

by David Vann (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005; 236 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by John Smolens, Marquette, Mich.

David Vann’s memoir, A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea, is a book devoted to the Dream. Everyone who sails — as well as many who have never hoisted a halyard — have at some point concocted their own variation of the Dream: with the right sailboat, one could make a fine living at sea.

David’s version is bold. After studying writing and literature at Stanford he sets out to create a ” university on water,” an educational charter business. “It was an American Dream,” he writes, “founded on another more recent dream, of continuing education, and my guests could feel satisfaction from participation in both.” He convinces a number of people to lend him hundreds of thousands of dollars so he can build a 90-foot sailboat to operate in the Caribbean for charter cruises with at-sea literature and writing courses for university credit.

A splendid idea, perhaps, but in 1999 David contracts to have the vessel built in Turkey, and within the first few pages of the book it’s clear that this is a boat that should never get wet. He is determined to see the construction through and, after much haggling and negotiation with a builder named Seref, The Wife of Bath is launched. At first this steel-hulled wonder makes a pleasant and uneventful voyage across the Mediterranean and David, accompanied by a crew that includes his fiancée Nancy, seems destined to achieve his dream.

However, after passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, The Wife of Bath’s rudder malfunctions in heavy seas off the coast of Morocco. What follows is a scene as gripping as anything in The Perfect Storm. For hours David attempts to line up with a freighter that has offered to tow the disabled sailboat ashore. It soon becomes apparent that the only thing more dangerous than the stormy Atlantic is a sea captain whose thoughts have turned to salvage. Rather than aiding a ship in distress, the German captain makes it impossible to tow the floundering boat and finally convinces David and his crew to abandon ship.

If the difficulties David encounters at sea are harrowing, his experiences on land are heartbreaking. Modern-day pirates appear in the forms of slick lawyers, devious government officials, and insurance executives. The travails David encounters once his damaged boat has been returned to the harbor beneath the Rock of Gibraltar seem more treacherous and dispiriting than the worst sea tragedy. There is a certain dignity to sinking; there is no honor to getting fleeced slowly while rotting in the harbor.

David is a young man with limitless energy. As he chronicles an astounding succession of financial disasters (which lead to bankruptcy and a spate of lawsuits), the book becomes not just a sea tale but a memoir full of hard-won truth. He is haunted by his father, a commercial fisherman who had inexplicably committed suicide when David was 13. ” Abiding in each of us who loved him is the impossibility of knowing or living the life we would have had without his suicide. Would I have thrown away my academic career — and, for a time, my writing — for boats and the sea if my father had not killed himself? Have I built boats out of love or obedience?”

This question is central to the book. Ultimately, David refurbishes The Wife of Bath and, with Nancy at his side, sails south into the Caribbean. The ultimate fate of his sailboat is no secret — on the cover below the title there is a photograph of the bow pointed skyward in its last moment before slipping a mile into the sea. But David ‘s fate also derives from the sea his loves. He and his new marriage survive and are perhaps strengthened by the challenges that come with such loss. “A life can be like a work of art, constantly melted away and reshaped,” he concludes. So keep the Dream, but before selling the farm for that boat, read David Vann’s One Mile Down, an eloquent cautionary tale from a sailor wise beyond his years.

Back To Top


Making Waves

a music CD by Andy Vine ($20.00 from Andy Vine, 971 East 26th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5V 2J3)
Reviewed by Larry Carpenter, Minneapolis, Minn.

Andy Vine has been playing, singing, and writing since the 1960s. He started in the folk clubs in the U.K., continued as he emigrated to Canada, and currently performs in his adopted Vancouver, British Columbia.

Making Waves is a self-produced collection of songs Andy has collected over the years and still loves to sing. Recorded in his home studio, it is a mixture of original pieces, traditional folk, and popular standards. Andy expresses his love for the sea in his opening song, “Listen to the Ocean,” which he learned as a kid in the U.K. It is a catchy reflection on the lure of the ocean.

He ends the album with his lovely, haunting musical setting of John Masefield’s famous poem, “Sea Fever” (“…and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…”). I was humming along the first time I heard it, then turned to Google to find the poem. On the second pass I was figuring out the chords and melody.

The nautical theme continues with “Woman of Labrador,” which he wrote in St. Johns, Newfoundland. It tells the age-old story of the woman left to tend the home and family while waiting (and hoping) for her man to return from the sea.

When the “Ballad of Lord Franklin” started, my first reaction was, “Hey, I know that song, but I play it differently!” I like Andy’s appropriately mournful version with a simple flute accompaniment. There are many versions of this traditional classic based upon the lost expedition led by Lord Franklin in search of the elusive Northwest Passage. This version measures up well.

The rest of the album departs from things nautical with mixed results. Andy turns inland with “Dragonfly,” a song about friendship and fiddling in the Yukon. It is nicely done with pleasant fiddle accompaniment. I really like the refrain: “But he played like a fool coming out of a slumber. He played like a dragonfly drying his wings.”

The songs on this CD are uneven, as can be expected on a first effort self-produced album. But it is obvious that Andy is enjoying himself and he has delivered a very listenable album. For me the highlight must be Andy’s musical setting for “Sea Fever.” This, in itself, is worth the price of the album.

I doubt that you will be able to find the CD at your favorite music source. But you can surf to http://www.andyvine.com for song lyrics and information on ordering.

Back To Top


Roar’s Circle

by Henrik Juel, translated from Danish by Rae Duxbury, (The Lutterworth Press, 2005; 160 pages; $30.00 US)
Reviewed by Richard Smeriglio, Moose Pass, Alaska

Assemble a band of motivated landlubbers, give them broadaxes and Danish oak, and pay them to build a replica of an 11th century Viking cargo ship heaved up from the bottom of a fjord. The resulting narrative might focus more interestingly on people rather than on building technique. Author Henrik Juel does exactly that and his personal account will repay readers more interested in modern Danish society than in ancient sailboats.

The Danish National Museum had a 950-year-old vessel found scuttled off Skuldelev Strand of Roskilde Fjord. A group of mostly non-boatbuilders replicated it as closely as possible, using primitive tools and techniques. Given modern realities of egalitarian life, the men and women who built the replica democratized, discussed, and dithered as much as they created, crafted, and carved. That they built the vessel of green wood should give pause to traditional builders of wooden boats. That they created a shapely double-ender and sailed her for years should give humanists cause to rejoice.

We moderns may never know the harsh details of how hardscrabble northern people of old spared the labor and materiel to construct a 45-foot, single-masted, square-rigged, open-decked coastal cruiser with auxiliary oar power. That they could do it at all should impress us. That their descendants might actually do it, too, should interest us.

Roar Ege takes its name from Roar (Hrothgar) of the Beowulf saga and Ege meaning oak ship. To build an oaken ship, one must first fell oak trees, with an ax. To make boards without saws, one must split logs lengthwise and hew them smooth with an ax. The techniques may have descended from legendary Scandinavian boatbuilder Thorberg Skawhewer. To “skawhew” means to notch gunwales to appropriate depths and then whack them smooth with a bold stroke of an ax to achieve a beautiful sheer. The original and its replica used lapstrake construction clinched with hand-forged iron nails. They used a lot of wool in the iron-age northland and Roar Ege has wool caulking and a wool sail, homespun by the builders, of course.

The Roar Ege folk did it the hard way. They learned as they built and learned to sail a square-rigger as they rowed her. They continue to voyage along the North Sea coast. One suspects that should they wreck on a forested shore, a few hardy ax wielders could have Roar Ege back under way in short order.

Back To Top


Band of Brothers

by Alexander Kent (Random House; 2005; 130 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Joseph Ditler, Coronado, Calif

The three greatest sailors who never lived are, arguably, Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey, and Richard Bolitho. Their combined exploits at sea have entertained readers since the 1930s and inspired an armada of imitators. The world of maritime fiction is literally framed and planked upwards from their keel. Of these magnificent storytellers, Bolitho’s creator, author Alexander Kent, is the only one still living. (Forester began his series in 1937 and died in 1966; O’Brian, who died in 2000, started his series in 1970.)

Alexander Kent, whose real name is Douglas Reeman, has been producing novels regularly since 1968 and has sold more than 22 million books in 16 languages. His newest book, Band of Brothers, is a long-overdue novel dealing with Bolitho’s early career as a midshipman.

Kent’s series documents the fictional adventures and battles (and loves) of Richard Bolitho and his young nephew, Adam, at sea during the Napoleonic-era aboard England’s great fleet of wooden ships. The series has thrived and now, 27 books and 35 years later, Alexander Kent has finally answered the question, “What happened to Midshipman Martyn Dancer?”

The prolific author skipped a chapter way back in 1972. He probably didn’t think much of it at the time. But his readers were relentless. They have nagged him for 30 years to solve the mystery of Martyn Dancer ‘s disappearance from the series. In Band of Brothers A lexander Kent mollifies his readers on two accounts. He answers the question of Dancer’s fate, but, more importantly, he clearly demonstrates to readers that he is still alive, in fine writing form, and continues to document the fictional lives of the sailing Bolithos.

New readers to Alexander Kent can find hard-to-locate earlier novels from this series, as well as new Kent titles, at McBooks-Press in New York. Contact them at http://www.mcbooks.com or call 1-888-BOOKS11 (1-888-266-5711). For more about Alexander Kent visit the author’s official website at http://www.bolithomaritimeproductions.com.

Back To Top


Moitessier, A Sailing Legend

by Jean-Michel Barrault, translated from French by Janine Simon (Sheridan House, 2005; 234 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Rick Smeriglio, Moose Pass, Alaska

Bernard Moitessier, the sailor who might have won the first around-the-world-solo race but abandoned the attempt while leading, also abandoned his wife and children for idleness in the South Pacific, then entered the sailing imagination as a hero. Such a striking character and his extraordinary life provide rich material for the legend of the title. A split portrait emerges. We learn of Bernard Moitessier, the irresponsible wastrel, careless rookie sailor, and squanderer of great potential (he sank two boats because he fell asleep). We learn of Moitessier, the phenomenal solo sailor, mystic, and poet of the ocean, an achiever by any reckoning. He rounded Cape Horn twice.

Bernard Moitessier (1925-1994) wrote five books that established his reputation as a bluewater voyager and somewhat naïve philosopher. He believed in minimal equipment and accepting risk. Many others have written about him, particularly in French. Author, longtime friend, and literary pro, Jean-Michel Barrault, uses Moitessier’s books and quotes from years of correspondence to flesh out this short biography. The author has the advantage of an intimate’s insights and succeeds in bringing at least chronological order to a very messy life.

Poseidon smiled on Bernard Moitessier. Born the child of privilege in French Indochina, his birth date precluded service in WWII. He first went to sea and made lucky voyages in ill-found wooden vessels. When they sank, kind strangers gave him other boats and gear. As a vagabond who fetched up boatless on exotic island shores, people gave him the means to build life and boat anew. Strangers designed and built, for free, his most famous boat, the 40-foot steel ketch, Joshua, named after Slocum. Three months after its destruction by hurricane while at anchor, friends had raised funds and built him a new steel cutter. Women loved him freely, even after he abandoned them, a modus operandi for Bernard Moitessier.

What do we make of this remarkable sailor, this sensitive and tormented soul? His personal life sets an example best avoided. He outfitted boats by scrounging in boatyard dumpsters. He certainly had his sea time and must have learned from it. His Polynesian name and the name of his final boat, Tamata, means to try. He sailed the southern ocean in the manner of Vito Dumas, running wild and free before the roar of the storms. He sailed among the reefs of life, if occasionally onto them. We can speculate that he found peace at sea and some respite from his inner demons. Perhaps kind strangers sensed this and repeatedly gave him the means to become part of the sea.

Back To Top


Sail Trim Theory and Practice

by Peter Hahne (Sheridan House, 2005; 120 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Erich Drescher, Ottawa Lake, Mich.

Knowing how to properly trim your boat’s sails is not only important in racing but has a place in cruising, too. As Peter Hahne says, proper sail trim “might even mean reaching the harbor in the evening rather than late at night.” A recent episode during my local Wednesday night race also demonstrated just how important proper sail trim is during heavy weather. In that race you could identify the captains who understood how their boats functioned and the physics impacting their vessels.

Peter does an admirable job explaining the physics behind an array of sail plans, hull profiles, and their interactions with currents and weather. If you enjoy discussions of laminar flow, hydrodynamic side force, and vortex formations, this book will be very enjoyable. Thoughtful discussions on everything from keel shape to profiles of spinnakers are contained in this compact book. He backs the discussions up with considerable mathematical and scientific evidence (as opposed to the all-too-often-cited anecdotal stories).

The less-seasoned sailor will take away a better understanding of the forces at work on a vessel and the impact of each. The book includes sections on trimming the head sail, yawing, tuning the masthead rig, and velocity prediction. The impact of different types of sailcloth is also discussed briefly.

I don’t think this book would be useful on a boat during a race, but sections of it would be extremely handy when observing a race. Sail Trim would be especially useful to sailors in the mid-levels of the U.S. Sailing keelboat series; it complements some of the existing class materials very well. The airflow and force diagrams alone deserve honorable mention.

As a newbie in the sailing world I found myself wanting to laminate the quick reference guide at the end of the book. This guide is divided by weather and wave action and gives pointers on what adjustments may be needed in your rig or sail trim depending on your course with respect to the wind.

All in all, Sail Trim Theory and Practice deserves to be in a well-stocked sailing library. The only negative I saw was the omission of a bibliography. I appreciate the ability to check an author’s scientific and historical sources and to come to my own conclusions based upon the same evidence.

Back To Top


Patrick O’Brian, The Making of a Novelist 1914-1949

by Nikolai Tolstoy (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004; 500 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Patty Facius, Minneapolis, Minn.

A person who attains celebrity status arouses curiosity and inquiry about his or her past. It’s the price of fame. Patrick O’Brian, best known for his Aubrey-Maturin historical novel series, is no exception. But O’Brian’s private life was what he wanted to keep out of the public eye, which led to speculation, rumor, and distortion about his life, much of it perpetuated by O’Brian himself. Talk to an avid O’Brian fan and it will be evident that the mystery continues to swirl around the life of this author. O’Brian’s sailing experience, his name change, the “abandonment” of his wife and children, and his activities for the British Intelligence during World War II become fodder for debate.

Nikolai Tolstoy, O’Brian’s stepson and biographer, addresses these controversial topics. He recognizes that O’Brian is considered by many to be Britain’s greatest 20th century author and he aims to set the record straight. If you’re a literary historian, he’s probably succeeded. If not, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the thoroughness of the biographer’s research.

Tolstoy refutes and challenges an earlier biography, Dean King’s Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000). To build and support his case that O’Brian has been misunderstood, if not vilified by King and others, Tolstoy plays part sleuth and part psychoanalyst. He traces O’Brian’s development as a writer from his troubled and dysfunctional childhood and adolescence, through his first marriage and World War II experiences, his affair with and eventual marriage to Tolstoy’s mother, and his ongoing struggle to succeed as a writer. His extensive sources include interviews with siblings and acquaintances, family correspondence, memoirs, government and court records, personal journals and O’Brian’s early works of semi-autobiographical fiction.

If you’re looking for a chapter devoted solely to the development of the Aubrey/Maturin series, you’ll be disappointed. However, the patient reader will find that throughout the text and footnotes Tolstoy scatters references to people, places and events in O’Brian’s life that offered inspiration for, or can be traced to, the series. For example, we learn that from early childhood, O’Brian was a natural history buff, and that the character of Jack Aubrey was modeled after three men O’Brian knew and admired, one of whom was an older brother who died flying a bombing mission over Germany during World War II.

So for all those O’Brian fanatics out there, get the book, read it, and pass it on to your Aubrey/Maturin reading friends. It will surely ignite some interesting discussion in the cockpit.

Back To Top

Book Reviews From 2004

Reviews From 2004

February 2004 Newsletter

April 2004 Newsletter

June 2004 Newsletter

August 2004 Newsletter

October 2004 Newsletter

December 2004 Newsletter


How to Sail Around The World: Advice and Ideas for Voyaging Under Sail

by Hal Roth (International Marine, 2004; 400 pages, $29.95)
Reviewed by Frederick Street, Zimmerman, Minn.

In the hands of most other authors, this might be a presumptuous title. Yet Hal Roth’s latest offering distills years of voyaging and many thousands of sea miles into a clear, no-nonsense discussion of what it takes to voyage far and wide in a sailing vessel. This book presupposes a certain knowledge of and skill level in sailing. But Hal makes the argument that people of average abilities of any age can sail around the world and that experience is the best teacher. He writes, “… you must find out about sailing firsthand. You do not become a seaman by reading.” Having said that, he launches right into what turns out to be an incredible wealth of information for the prospective circumnavigator.

The first several chapters of the book deal with the process of finding, evaluating, and outfitting an appropriate vessel for bluewater sailing. Certain widely-held beliefs are shaken a bit here; Hal takes the unusual view that a boat with a fin-keel and a skeg-hung rudder can be a perfectly good vessel on the open ocean. Indeed, a good portion of his voyaging has been done on such a sailboat.

His biggest thrust in the subject of outfitting is that a vessel that is simple and simply rigged is going to serve its owner far better than one rife with complicated systems. This is not to say that Hal and his wife, Margaret, are a minimalists; they have not gone so far as to espouse doing away with engines and electronics. But Hal makes the case that simplicity, reliability, and forethought are to be valued highly and will pay off in time spent enjoying the cruise instead of time spent repairing equipment. He maintains that simplicity will also result in greater safety, a subject he takes very seriously.

The next section of the book discusses route planning and heavy weather sailing. Hal takes a decidedly conservative approach here and once again gives comfort and safety priority over nearly all else. While he deals in detail with several different approaches to handling storms, he suggests that the reader should try to sail in storm-free seasons and avoid getting into situations where more drastic measures are necessary.

The final third of the book covers additional subjects, including a bit on provisioning and refrigeration (or rather, the lack of it), costs of cruising, engines and propulsion, and schooling at sea. The section on children and schooling aboard seems to be offered as an afterthought and includes mostly secondhand information.

The last chapter, titled “The Dream and the Reality,” neatly sums up Hal’s love of the life aboard in its opening sentences: “The big secret of world travel is to do it in a sailing yacht. It’s by far the best way to see the globe.” In spite of the huge amount of practical data in this book, Hal remains a romantic at heart and urges the reader to strive after “the pleasure and the freedom” of a life under sail. I highly recommend this beautifully written and well-balanced volume to those committed to working toward that reality, as well as to those of us who can only dream.

Back To Top


Navigating the Edge

by Jill Knight (Harper Collins, 2002; 309 pages; $10.60)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Australian Jill Knight has written a number of articles for Good Old Boat and others about her sailing adventures and sailboat maintenance while cruising aboard Cooee, a 37-foot wooden cutter . . . a boat now more than 100 years old . . . on which she circumnavigated . . . alone. As they say of the female in a dancing team, she did everything a male dancer does, except that she did it backward and in high heels.

Those of us already in awe of what Jill has accomplished are not surprised, therefore, that she next sat down and wrote a rather powerful first novel. Called Navigating the Edge, her book is set in the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town, South Africa, to the coast of Brazil.

Her background as a corporate psychologist makes it possible for Jill to develop a cast of characters, primarily sailors, who are reacting to a range of traumatic life experiences as they interact. As could be expected, some grow healthier while others grow distinctly crazier drawing others and their sailboats into harm’s way as they do.

Armchair sailors reading this book are soon drawn in and navigating the edge of their seats as several life-and-death struggles occur in mid-ocean.

Without giving away the plot, I’ll say that Jill’s sailing scenes are descriptive and accurate, her characters well developed and interesting, and her plot line is fantastic and frightening. This one could make a good gift for a friend. The recipient need not be a sailor to enjoy it. It wouldn’t be cheating (would it?) to read it yourself before you wrap it up.

Back To Top


Call of the Ancient Mariner

by Reese Palley (International Marine/McGraw-Hill 2004; 258 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Reese Palley has gone around in the world long enough to develop character. He has followed his own course long enough to become a character. And he has gone around at sea long enough to qualify as a salty character. In his newest book, Call of the Ancient Mariner: Reese Palley’s Guide to a Long Sailing Life, this old salt would tell others how to do likewise. It hasn’t been a bad existence for Reese. On the contrary. Now is the time for those who would do likewise to listen up. The master is speaking.

By his own definition, Reese may be old (he’s celebrated his 80th birthday and then a few). But he hasn’t lost any brain cells yet. Looking over his shoulder, Reese sees the aging Boomer generation just behind him. The Boomers (forever young at heart) would like to keep sailing. Reese has just written the handbook they need.

In his no-holds-barred manner, Reese has always put strong opinions forth . . . take ’em or leave ’em. He advises his readers (those who would like to grow old, particularly since they find the alternative unattractive), “Slay dragons, go east as the Aardvarks go west, put yourself in harm’s way, hold unpopular opinions loudly, and always seek an opportunity to tug at the tail of the tiger. At your great age, you have little to lose. You gain the admiration of the world while they acknowledge your audacity.” That’s been his plan all along, and he’s sticking to it.

Reese offers suggestions about healthy eating, staying active, pacing yourself, and other rules for living life to the fullest. In addition, he interviews other aging skippers to prove that he is not the only one out there. One of these interviewees, Dave Clark, tells Reese: “Of course there are dangers and some risks, but what kind of a life would it be if there weren’t a bit of daring in each of us? I’m not so afraid of dying as I am of not living while I’m here.”

My own definition of what is “old” has slowly ratcheted upward, I’ve noticed. With this book in hand, I think I’ll target 80 as an age at which I can still go sailing. My hat’s off to Reese Palley for convincing me that I can do it.

Back To Top


Chapman Piloting & Seamanship, 64th Edition

by Elbert S. Maloney (Sterling Publishing, 2003; 928 color pages; $49.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

A book like Chapman needs no introduction and no review. It’s an extraordinary reference book full of information useful to all sailors. It’s enough to say that a new edition was released in late November 2003. If your own edition is decades old, as ours is, this may be the year to go for an updated copy.

Back To Top


How Boat Things Work

by Charlie Wing (International Marine / McGraw Hill, 2003, 175 pages, $29.95)
Reviewed by Don Launer, Forked River, N.J.

If you have ever tried to disassemble a winch, fix your steering system, repair a galley pump, or rebuild your head, the chances are that you have been frustrated more than once. Charlie Wing’s book, How Boat Things Work, addresses these projects and many more. If you’re at all interested in how things work — and what boatowner isn’t — then this thin, hardcover, large-format book is a gold mine of information. The first thing you notice, when leafing through the book, are the extraordinary illustrations. I found them so perfect that I immediately looked for the name of the illustrator, but none was listed. In an email exchange, the publisher explained that Charlie also did all the illustrations. This accounts for the close melding of text and artwork. These illustrations portray intricate, exploded, color drawings of 80 different systems and devices and show how they’re assembled, how they work, and how they can malfunction. Although Charlie has his Ph.D. in Oceanography from MIT, it could just as well be in English, drafting, or art. The text accompanies these illustrations in short, clear, concise sentences. It leads the reader through each phase of the disassembly or assembly process; in fact the combination of writing and illustrations is the best I have ever seen in a book of this genre. The exploded views of parts of a diesel engine alone are worth the price.

When Charlie and his wife departed Portland, Maine, on their 39-foot cutter to follow the sun to the Caribbean, all the tasks he describes in the book were a mystery to both of them. Finally, after many miles and many equipment failures, it was clear that learning to take things apart and repair them were essential skills for these cruising sailors. The result of this learning process is How Boat Things Work, the book they wished they’d had when they first started their cruising odyssey.

Back To Top


The Silent Landscape: The Scientific Voyage of HMS Challenger

by Richard Corfield (Joseph Henry Press, 2003; 285 pages; U.S. $24.95, Canada $34.95)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wis.

In December, 1872, the British ship HMS Challenger left Portsmouth, England on a voyage that would last until May, 1876, cover 68,900 miles, and add volumes to the already growing body of knowledge of the sea. Until that time, any scientific voyage, including that of HMS Beagle of Charles Darwin fame 40 years earlier, was also charged with expanding the British Empire. The Silent Landscape: The Scientific Voyage of HMS Challenger, by Richard Corfield, is the story of Challenger‘s historic voyage, the sole purpose of which was a purely scientific exploration of the world’s oceans.

The reader is given some idea of what life on board was like for the “scientifics,” as they were called by the crew, as well as for that crew, one-fourth of whom deserted by the end of the three and a half-year voyage. However, the larger portion of the narrative is devoted to Challenger ‘s scientific findings and what they have lead to today. For example, the author gives a detailed explanation of the technology Challenger used as they stopped every 120 miles to take soundings and every 300 miles to dredge a bottom sample as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He then goes on to follow the evolution of that technology until we arrive at the modern methods of multibeam sonar and satellite navigation systems used today. The author details the Challenger‘s findings on the Sargasso Sea, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, deep-sea exploration, plate tectonics, coral growth, the Bermuda Triangle, Antarctica, and many other fascinating discoveries.

At times the book seems like a textbook; some sections may be beyond the grasp of those without a strong scientific background. But the author’s style is such that the reader can glean enough information to make reading it worthwhile. He also includes a useful list of suggestions for further reading and a detailed topical index. If you’re looking for something to entertain you with swashbuckling heroics, you’ll probably find little in here to satisfy you. But if you’re interested in history or science or if you’re naturally curious about how we’ve come to know as much as we do about the oceans, you will probably find The Silent Landscape to be, at the very least, an excellent reference book and, at the most, a valuable asset to your personal library.

Back To Top


A Splendid Madness

by Tom Froncek (Sheridan House, 2004; 210 pages; $23.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

There is a strange force within sailors which causes them to retreat to the water on boats when that water offers scant refuge, guaranteeing neither safety nor security. Author Thomas Froncek knows this phenomenon well. In his latest book, A Splendid Madness: A Man. A Boat. A Love Story. Tom tells how he discovered sailing and its joys when middle-aged, long after his brief introduction as a youth. His book — not so much about sailing as it is about the relationship between a man and his boat — talks of the responsibilities and rewards, the challenges and the addiction of boat ownership.

Like so many before him, Tom is drawn gradually to his splendid madness. Candid and observant, he recounts his learning curve and the little revelations about boating and about himself. In doing so, Tom reminds sailors of their own paths and similar experiences when they were smitten. These events are sometimes humorous and sometimes discouraging, but in total they are rewarding, drawing the sailor irresistibly back to the boat.

“Yes. Yes!” sailors will exclaim as they read this book. “It was like that for me too!” By putting his finger on his own pulse, Tom Froncek has recorded other sailors’ heartbeats, as well. He describes his own experience and, in doing so, details how the rest of us were drawn in, mesmerized, by sailing and sailboats.

Must one be a sailor to read this book? Not really. In fact, those who live with sailors without understanding them might be well served by Tom’s insights. Others who simply wonder what it’s all about might also find this book interesting on an intellectual level. However without the passion, they surely will go away agreeing only that sailors are indeed possessed by a madness . . . one they, thankfully, do not share.

Sharing Tom’s passion, however, and coming to sailing in middle-age as well, I found pleasure in each achievement, his daring for farther distances and longer cruises, the bonds he formed with his first boat, and the joys and frustrations of boat ownership. Sailing, like life, is about making passages, after all. I found pleasure in accompanying Tom Froncek on his.

Back To Top


All the Time in the World

by Sharon Kratz (1st Books Library, 2004; 150 pages; $16.75)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Jim and Dianne Carlin had all the time in the world to sail their Island Packet 38, September Song, around the world. That’s the way author Sharon Kratz is portraying their travels by sea and explorations on land, a voyage which took five years, circumnavigating via the Panama and Suez canals. The Carlins started and ended their journey in Texas, November 1996 through April 2002.

Sharon intended to tell the Carlins’ interesting tale in a magazine article or two. But once she met with the couple, she became so mesmerized she was inspired to write this book, her first.

Writing and publishing a book, particularly about someone else’s travels, is no small undertaking in itself. Sharon tells the Carlins’story so well that readers experience the highlights of their travels with them. Readers make the voyage without having to spend “all the time in the world” doing so. Sharon cuts right to the chase scenes: the inevitable storms, global political hostilities, pirates, and mechanical failures. She also adds interest with a look at cultural experiences, food, native people, other cruisers, and sights along the way, including inshore sightseeing.

Jim and Dianne did not sail endlessly; they put September Song into storage several times while they returned home for months at a time for family events. The Carlins often took family members along for extended passages or met family members for tourist travels while overseas. This opportunity to take a break from life aboard and to be reunited with family will be reassuring for those who want to cruise to distant shores, but are reluctant to leave family behind. By example, the Carlins tell other sailors who would follow in their wake that cruisers can have the best of both worlds — the watery one and the one they left behind.

Did they have all the time in the world? Not really. Many cruisers have taken longer to circumnavigate. And there are places they rushed past that they would like to visit someday. But perhaps that’s for the best. If you’ve seen it all and done it all and got the T-shirt, what’s left? The Carlins ‘ horizon has expanded. Other travel beckons even though September Song has gone on to new owners and new travels.

Telling the Carlins’story may launch Sharon’s writing career in a direction she did not foresee. Now that she has completed a book, who knows? And since she and her husband are sailors, the Carlins ‘ tale may inspire further cruising for them just as it might for readers of All the Time in the World.

For all of us, this book presents a realistic view of long-term cruising today. It is a valuable resource for any sailors wondering whether making a circumnavigation is right for them. If distant shores beckon, this book offers a sneak preview of what you can expect. Read it. Enjoy it. Then pursue your dream.

Back To Top


High Latitude, North Atlantic, 30,000
Miles Through Cold Seas and History

by John R. Bockstoce (Mystic Seaport, 2003; 216 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Michael Hewitt, Tucson, Ariz.

High Latitude, North Atlantic briefly chronicles the discovery, settlement, anthropology, and history of the barren lands from north of Alaska across the Canadian Arctic and the Atlantic to northern Scandinavia. Because it is the sea that ties together these isolated outposts, it is fitting that the tale be told from the deck, well actually from the sheltered pilothouse, of an ocean-capable sailing vessel.

John Bockstoce skippered Belvedere, a much-modified 60-foot steel motorsailer, through a dozen summers in the waters of Scotland, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, and northern Canada (one chapter was set aboard the motor vesssel Itasca, a 175-foot former North Sea oil rig supply ship converted to a yacht and strengthened for ice.)

John’s credentials are impeccable. With more than 20 seasons in the northern oceans, he has completed the Northwest Passage a remarkable three times! Few have more experience or better-honed skills for navigating the treacherous ice-infested waters of the North Atlantic. But even more than a sailor, Bockstoce is a respected Arctic historian. He holds a doctorate in archeology from Oxford, was curator of Arctic collections at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, and his book credits list nine other academic works.

This unusual combination of aptitudes creates a dilemma for a reviewer . . . High Latitude, North Atlantic may be too much of a sailing epic for archeologists and maritime history buffs and too much of a history lesson for armchair adventure sailing enthusiasts. John walks the line well, but I would easily have tolerated a much longer book to have more details about the challenging passages, treacherous anchorages, and thoroughly inhospitable weather endemic to the North Atlantic. There can be no doubt that the “rough spots” nonchalantly described by John Bockstoce were more likely horrifying ordeals. His understated style reflects his professional training as an historian: present the facts, don’t embellish them.

Sailors in more temperate waters write of encounters with dolphins, sea turtles, and exotic reef fish. The non-human characters in High Latitude, North Atlantic include beluga whales, reindeer, and polar bears. John describes two encounters between his inflatable dinghy and marauding polar bears. The first, in Northern Labrador, resulted in a small bite-inflicted puncture near the end of the boat’s sponson.

He recounts the unwillingness of the inflatable repair center personnel in Rhode Island to believe that the damage was caused by a polar bear bite. The second, two years later, resulted in another bite and another limp dinghy. ” In September the life-raft repairmen, seeing our battle-scarred dinghy for a second time, now believed our story about how it had been violated.”

This is a beautiful book, printed on glossy paper with scores of the author’s spectacular color and black-and-white photographs. Because the voyages are so grand, the setting for each chapter is marked on a satellite-photo globe with detail provided by larger-scale maps. Viewing the Earth from a perspective above the North Pole takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, the book cries out for more — and more detailed — charts. As you would expect from an academic author, each chapter is thoroughly referenced, and appendices provide a detailed description of Belvedere’s remarkable modifications and a chronology of the North Atlantic history from Irish monks reaching the Faroe Islands ca. 700 to the first surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole by the American and Canadian Ice breakers USCGC Polar Sea and CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent in 1994.

John Bockstoce’s history of the North Atlantic depicts the rugged, daring men and women who braved unforgiving climate and seas to settle and commercialize one of the most inhospitable regions on the globe. High Latitude, North Atlantic is a fascinating blend of nautical adventure and history, and should be considered essential reading to any still clinging the misconception that Christopher Columbus was the first to reach the New World in 1492. A great read any time, you will especially enjoy it during the hottest days of summer!

Back To Top


The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating: An A-Z Compendium of Navigation, Seamanship, Boat Maintenance, and Nautical Wisdom

by John Vigor (International Marine, 2004; 356 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

John Vigor is the answer guy if you’re having onboard arguments about nautical terminology or the science of sailing in general. His new book, The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating: An A-Z Compendium of Navigation, Seamanship, Boat Maintenance, and Nautical Wisdom, is just what that long title promises.

Problems with your alternator or diesel engine? John’s troubleshooting guides are there to help. Weather forecasting and cloud charts: John’s there for you. A right-of-way decision tree? Page 250. How to figure your boat ‘s capsize screening formula? See John about it. Center of effort, center of buoyancy, center of gravity? Ditto. Sail reduction strategies? Ask John. Buoyage systems (printed in color, of course). Likewise.

Need a smile? John offers that also. Check out the entries for coins under the mast, the black box theory, and sailing on Friday for special insight as only John can offer it.

John does the copyediting for Good Old Boat magazine. That means he’s wearing his technical and editor’s hats when reading each article before it goes into the layout process. We rely on him to keep us straight (nautically speaking). We’re not sure whether or not John keeps his vast storehouse of yachty technical information in his head. But he’s one guy who knows where to find it when he needs it. And with his book, you can too.

Back To Top


London Goes to Sea

by Peter Baumgartner, (Sheridan House, 2004; 224 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

In telling his story, London Goes to Sea, Peter Baumgartner speaks for many sailors. There is no major drama — no sinkings, world-circling voyages, or perfect storms. Nevertheless there is minor drama aplenty (just ask Peter how dramatic it felt at the time) as the boat goes adrift or is grounded or the engine fails.

Yet without drama and hype, Peter has accomplished what only a small fraction of sailors take on: he has brought an older, neglected sailboat back from an eventual death. Peter invested mechanical talent and elbow grease. His reward was an affordable, beautiful, and fully functional cruising sailboat. His achievements and those of others should be celebrated.

It is in recording and celebrating this accomplishment that Peter speaks for other sailors. They considered their achievements to be inconsequential. Peter celebrated his by writing a book about his boat and her restoration. And once she was floating, Peter celebrated the pleasure which comes from living simply while cruising in a sailboat. He enjoys leaving land-based stresses behind and reminds others of the reasons for investing time and talent in an older boat. In doing so, he encourages those who would do likewise to find and fix a fixer-upper sailboat.

Because he writes beautifully, shares his personal insights, and is so remarkably self-aware, Peter Baumgartner takes his readers with him on a voyage of boat ownership and the fulfillment of a dream. It is a tale well told.

Back To Top


What Shape is She In? / Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats

by Allan Vaitses (International Marine, 1985; 165 pages; out of print) / by David Pascoe (D. H. Pascoe & Company, 2001; 417 pages; $69.95)
Reviewed by Dan McDougal, Williamsport, Md.

These are two books on surveying, and both are well written. I advise every boatowner to read them both. Both authors elucidate what it is that surveyors do, and every boater needs to understand the survey process.

Who? Selecting a surveyor is neither easy nor properly done by anyone other than you. (Nor should the surveyor be paid by anyone other than you.)

What? There is a lot of negotiating to do with your surveyor before the boat is present. Will there be a sea-trial or a land-based survey only? Will the engine be included? Does the surveyor know what you want the boat for? Can you be present at the time of survey?

What type of report do you need? The report can be long, short, technical or less so. It can be made for your-eyes-only or shared around.

Both authors give analytical and anecdotal material which will make you ask, “Why didn’t I know this?” Since they do the same task for the same clientele, the similarities are noteworthy and lend great assurance to each one’s respective authority. There are, however, some differences.

What Shape is She In? Allan Vaitses is a better writer. His prose is wry and clear, and his eye for the human condition is the equal of the great novelists. His chapters are stories, each of a different boat. They are so packed with expertise revealed, human nature, and the day-to-day lore of the marina, that they are eminently re-readable as entertainment and for instruction. This is a little gem of a book — verily a sleeper with its small size, modest cover design, and odd, medical-sounding title.

But the really notable feature of Allan Vaitses is the Sherlock Holmes quality of his mind; the smallest detail blossoms before your eyes into logical conclusions on how the boat was built or used. This is then brilliantly transformed into the surveyor’s worries about the boat and its need for extra attention. That he gives you his findings and immediate thought process along a strict chronology is his delightful strength.

Allan is a full-time builder and repairer of sail and power vessels. Time and again, he expands on a finding in terms of exactly how that item is made, how it fails, and how it is repaired. No speculation, this guy does it!

With his newer book, Surveying Fiberglass Boats, David Pascoe shows that he is a clear writer but seems to lack Allan’s brilliance at this business, both in terms of the vessels and the people. David Pascoe’s book is much larger, longer, and more complete. Even after having read Allan’s book a dozen times, I still learned a lot about boats from reading David’s. His is more patient and organized in its presentation. Also, he goes into brand names and specific defects, which Allan forswears in his introduction.

Both authors have a pleasant and likeable persona in their books as well as a striking body of knowledge we don’t have . . . or even knew existed. This raises the final reason that every boatowner should read these books. It is known how boats are (differently) put together, and it is known how they come apart. Therefore, each of us must be somewhat of a surveyor of our own boat in an ongoing fashion. To the question, “Do I need to know how to survey?” The answer is: “Of your boat, absolutely!” Having said that unequivocally, the other more subtle reason is to know just how much help is out there for you if and when you need it.

Besides being extremely pleasant and informative reading, these books will leave you a better skipper, a better shepherd of your vessel’s parts and systems, and a wiser and more effective consumer of marine services. If that’s not enough, should you be now, or in the future, a buyer of a vessel, these authors can and will save you.

Back To Top


A Speck on the Sea: Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels

by William H. Longyard (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 2003; 375 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Michael Hewitt, Aboard Concordia, San Diego, Calif.

William Longyard’s introduction to A Speck on the Sea begins with the question, “Why would anyone cross an ocean in a small boat?” In the following 375 pages, he presents more than 100 reasons from sailors as varied as famed captains William Bligh and Ernest Shackleton, who set to sea in launches, to the not-so-famous Australian Ben Carlin and his wife, newlyweds making a 1950-51 Atlantic crossing in a surplus Army GP-A Jeep.

A Speck on the Sea is encyclopedic both in breadth and in layout. The author begins with unnamed Inuit kayakers around 63 A.D., organizes his chapters chronologically, and ends with Spanish Count Álvaro de Marichalar y S áenz de Tejada’s Atlantic crossing on a Sea Doo in 2002. His research exhausting, virtually every significant small-boat voyage is chronicled. Perhaps most fascinating is the infinite variety of vessels. In addition to the afore mentioned Jeep and personal watercraft, there are open canoes, rubber rafts, and even a 26-foot double-ended lifeboat made of sheet iron and set up with a three-masted square rig! Also encyclopedia-like, this book includes 41 pages of appendices, references, notes, a bibliography, and a thorough index. It is beautifully illustrated with black and white drawings and photographs. Very few reference books make for such riveting reading.

A later chapter covers the quest to captain the smallest vessel completing an ocean crossing. Hugo Vihlen firmly held that record for years, crossing the Atlantic in his six-foot April Fool. In 1983, Eric Peters claimed the new record in his five-foot, ten-and-one-half-inch Toniky Nou. The race was on for a crossing in a boat so small that no one would raise a campaign to beat it. One persistent challenger was Tom McNally, and William recounts his back and forth competition with Vihlen. In 1992, Vihlen’s five-foot four-inch Father’s Day was challenged by McNally’s Vera Hugh I, an inch and a half shorter. I won’t spoil the ending, but at this writing neither of those boats is small enough to hold the record!

From the absurd to the ingenious, small boats are as varied as the skippers who use them to go to sea. A Speck on the Sea is a fascinating book and will provide more nautical trivia per page than just about any other source. Most importantly, is serves an invaluable purpose to the average sailor . . . easing the endless quest for a larger vessel. Before reading this book, I wondered if my 32-foot cutter was truly capable of an ocean passage. Now, it feels unsportingly large!

Back To Top


Captain John Williams Master Mariner

by Robert Townsend, (Odyssey Publishing, 2002;186 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Susan Peterson Gateley, Wolcott, N.Y.

While the romance of Mother Ocean is undeniable, much modern-day yachting takes place on freshwater. Of the top 10 states for registered pleasurecraft, six are Great Lakes states with Michigan ranked No. 1. Yet Great Lakes sailing stories have generally made up only a small portion of sailing literature and much of that amount seems concerned with wrecks and catastrophe. Robert Townsend’s highly readable recent work, Captain John Williams Master Mariner , is a delightful breath of cool air off the lakes.

This history follows the career of Captain Johnny from his first trip at age nine in 1866 to his last crossing of Lake Ontario in 1936. It is based on C. H. J. Snider’s lively weekly newspaper column “Schooner Days,” lightly edited and compiled in book form. It is a fascinating portrait of daily life in commercial sail at a time when small family-owned schooners played a role in commerce much like today’s independent truckers.

Williams was skillful and a quick study who made the transition to steam and command of a corporate-owned bulk carrier, but most of the book concerns his various schooners. Williams never lost a man or a vessel during his years of command, but he knew of others who did, and some of their first-hand accounts illustrate how hazardous and challenging the relatively close quarters of the Great Lakes were to navigation in un-powered vessels during the months of November and December.

But most of the book concerns itself with a time when the Great Lakes waterfront was a lively place inhabited by colorful characters and their vessels. You ‘ll meet the hard steering Speedwell (which demanded a three-point sheer from her course as a regular thing and four points on Sundays), the trim two-masted Duncan City which survived a wild night and a blizzard off Toronto, and the hard working Sir C.T. Straubenzee ( known generally as the Benzy), and the men who sailed them. This was a time when the independent entrepreneurs who often owned and commanded their ships needed ingenuity, bold action, and a lot of hard work to make a profit year after year as Williams did. His adventures and solutions to problems make for a great winter read as the gales of November hammer the shores of the Great Lakes.

Back To Top


The Complete Para-anchor Set-up:Modern Rigging Techniques for Sailboats and Trawlers

by Zack Smith, (Fiorentino Para Anchor, 2004; DVD or VHS; $29.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Rather than a review, this is more of an announcement of a new DVD and video created by the folks at Fiorentino Para Anchor, who no doubt noticed that sailors and other boaters lack experience in deploying and retrieving parachute anchors. The trouble is that when you need a para anchor the most is not the time to learn how to use it. Zack Smith’s movie shows many launchings and retrievals and helps boaters determine what type of rode, chafe gear, bridle, trip line, or sail trim is necessary for their boats. The movie, available in DVD and video formats, is available from Fiorentino by calling 800-777-0732 or at their website: http://www.Para-Anchor.com.

Back To Top


The Walkabouts: A Family at Sea

by Mike Saunders (Stein & Day, 1975; 284 pages; out of print)
Reviewed by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Tinkering WW II veterans and refined husband-and-wife teams dominate the literature of cruising’s post-war golden age. These pioneers proved that small boats could safely cross oceans, serve as homes, and offer a lifestyle disconnected from civilization’s pressures. But what about the rest of us? We have kids, jobs, and the need to get somewhere and eventually get back to work. We probably also do not have extensive ocean-cruising experience.

Mike Saunders, in The Walkabouts, tells us of his family’s protracted evacuation in the early 1970s from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to England as the remnants of the British Empire fall away. The Saunders cruise a leaky 32-foot wooden ketch, with a wife, four children, toys for a year, and a homemade windvane down the east coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, to South America, and up to England. Walkabout is an honest, detailed view of life afloat: torn sails, seasickness, spilled food, and fighting children in addition to inspiring landfalls, wonderful personal encounters, and the satisfaction of the voyage. Some sailors might frown at their seamanship, but the Saunders family lived the adventure and proved that a family ocean cruise is within reach of everybody.

Resourcefulness takes on a new meaning in the Walkabout. The Saunders’ vessel was the only seagoing sailboat available in the country. Those accustomed to grabbing parts from West Marine and calling ahead to our marina via cell phone can barely relate to the difficulty in locating fittings, berths, and workmen. The Saunders expect their young children to tough it out, letting them get doused by the ocean to teach them a lesson and setting them free in the harbor for entertainment. One can imagine a visit from the child welfare office today to rescue children from such “irresponsible behavior.”

The Saunders lived the dream of the average weekend sailor. They had a mission, sold everything, made the voyage, and had the family experience of a lifetime. Their whole story, including the mishaps, frustrations, and discomforts — in addition to the triumphs — may inspire you even more than the cool predictability of the better-known masters.

Back To Top


The Windvane Self-Steering Handbook

by Bill Morris (International Marine McGraw-Hill, 2004, 224 pages; $25.95)
Reviewed by Joe Orefice, Baltimore, Md.

Windvanes hang like medals from the stern, a hallmark of many a long-range cruiser. While walking the docks, we see them hanging proudly on boats’sterns. We wonder about the stories the crew could tell of their adventures in the tropics while imaging ourselves on these dedicated cruising machines going to far off-destinations for adventure and excitement.

For a long voyage on a shoestring budget, the windvane is the device of choice, usually a used one. Those who are fitting out their boats find windvanes to be energy and fuel savers. There are many windvanes to choose from and, for those who would make their own, many engineering feats to consider. Author Bill Morris has tried to distill and lighten the stodgy world of windvane engineering and application without turning his book into a cure for insomnia. His book, The Windvane Self-Steering Handbook, is an attempt to tell you the history, construction, installation, and use of the device. He starts off with some history and basic engineering of the windvane before getting to the part that will interest most cruisers. Chapter Four is where it really begins, as he discusses considerations for matching the boat to the vane gear. Chapter Five discusses vane gear specifications for production vanes. Chapter Six is what I feel is the payoff. Here Bill discusses locating and evaluating used windvanes. This is worth the price of the book alone. Another topic I find missing in some discussions and articles about windvanes is installation . . . which just happens to be Chapter Seven.

There is also a chapter dedicated to maintenance and repair. It covers everything from inspecting the vane to bent tubing and broken welds and a helpful section on oxidized aluminum. The following chapter talks about customizing the vane gear. For the backyard builder, there is a chapter on building a horizontal vane trim tab system. There are chapters on emergency rudders and an appendix filled with information for further reading.

The chapter on sailing with windvanes could have been more informative as it only covers the two rigs the author is familiar with. It’s a small gripe; it wouldn’t be hard to adapt the information given.

Overall the book takes a very technical subject and softens it up enough so the reader can understand the information provided and not fall asleep. For the experienced sailor, it may drag on at times, but it’s generally clear and concise. The layout and organization of the material make reading easier and allow the reader to obtain the information required in the shortest amount of time. The author set out to write a book to rival John Letcher’s book on windvanes, and he has done an admirable job. The Windvane Self-Steering Handbook, in my opinion may become one of the main references for those purchasing or maintaining windvane gear.

Back To Top


The Spirit of Sailing: A Celebration of Sea and Sail

by Michael Kahn (Courage Books, 2004, 128 pages; $19.98)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

The poetry of Michael Kahn’s photos takes your breath away. A latter-day Rosenfeld, Michael knows where the heart and passion of sailing are. He directs his lens there. And he captures a voluptuous image in sepia tones. The good old boats that delight his eye have wooden blocks, gaff rigs, square sails, capstans, ratlines . . . poetry whether in motion or at rest.

Perhaps that’s why Michael’s new coffee-table book, The Spirit of Sailing: A Celebration of Sea and Sail, combines sailing quotes, poetry, and images to grace any sailor’s living room or boat cabin. You’ve seen his calendars. Now you can have a printed work of art that lasts longer than a year. And, best of all, this is one coffee-table book that’s affordable . . . like a good old boat.

Back To Top


Navigator, Celestial Navigation Software

by Omar Reis (Celestaire.com; $59.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.

Celestial navigation is alive and well even in the age of affordable GPS chart plotters. With his recent release of version 4.2 of Navigator, Omar Reis has provided the celestial navigator with a user-friendly and feature-rich navigation tool. The Star Finder module would also be of interest to stargazers.

Omar emphasizes that successful navigators are disciplined and organized. This philosophy can be sensed throughout the compact, 67-page manual that comes with the software CD. The first chapter is a succinctly written primer on celestial navigation, which can serve as a useful review for experienced navigators.

The Celestial Navigation and Star Finder modules form the heart of the celestial navigation program. The Star Finder helps the navigator “prepare the sky” — in other words to decide which celestial objects to use and also to determine the expected azimuth and altitude for each sight so that the sextant can be preset.

The Star Finder module uses a built-in perpetual almanac which includes the sun and moon, the navigational planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), and the full set of navigational stars. This module also features a nice graphic display of the sky to help the user locate the objects of interest. This feature would delight any stargazer.

Sextant altitudes (and times) are reduced using the Celestial Navigation module. I found it quick and intuitive to use. For years, I have used the Nautical Almanac and a spreadsheet template to reduce celestial sights. So having all the ephemeris data built into the program was a luxury. It greatly sped up the sight reduction process while also decreasing the chance of error in data entry.

Navigator 4.2 does not include the additional pressure and temperature corrections to the atmospheric refraction that become significant for objects near the horizon. However the author wisely recommends that users select objects above 20 degrees, which generally allows for better seeing and for more accurate results.

The Celestial Navigation module also features two tools for reducing the noon sight (or more correctly the Meridian Passage). There is even a nice capability for reducing sights taken with an artificial horizon.

Navigator has one more major module — Chart Navigation — which will handle either raster or vector charts. There is an associated utility that allows the user to scan existing paper charts and import them as raster charts. Chart Navigation can also accept GPS input via industry standard NMEA GPS messages.

This is a well-designed tool for the celestial navigator. The Chart Navigation capability increases the utility of this software and should further broaden its appeal.

Back To Top


The One Pan Galley Gourmet

by Don Jacobson and John Roberts (International Marine, 2004: 184 pages; $15.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

We’re taking our sailing vacation early this year. By the time you’re reading this newsletter, Jerry and I will be heading out across cold, cold Lake Superior in search of loon chicks and leftover bergy bits. (We’re hoping for more baby loons and fewer reminders of the winter’s snow and ice.)

Because we sail by choice without refrigeration or cooler, we’ll take along a new cookbook that just arrived for sailors: The One Pan Galley Gourmet: Simple Cooking on Boats. The section about cooking with a pressure cooker got my attention, separating this book from the many cruising cookbooks out there.

This book has its origins in a backpack. One of the authors, Don Jacobson, created a book for hikers and campers, The One Pan Gourmet in 1993. Later he teamed up with sailor John Roberts to “civilize” his menus for boaters. After all, we aren’t constrained by what we can pack in and pack out on our backs.

On the other hand, cooking aboard is not like cooking in a full kitchen in suburbia either. The two authors remembered that sailboats have small galleys, a limited water supply, a limited fuel supply, and some may even be lacking an oven.

They did unfortunately for me, assume that most boats will have coolers or refrigeration. I have to agree that most sailors will choose to chase the elusive ice blocks to keep fresh food available. So they’ve created many recipes using fresh meat that won’t work on my boat starting on Day One and fruits and vegetables that won’t keep into the second week of vacation. Still, all the recipes will work for most sailors, even with the most rudimentary galleys, so long as they have an ice box and a few pots and pans.

This book, in fact, could make a vast improvement in the lives of those sailors who think they must eat only what comes out of boxes and cans while aboard. In fact, it simplifies some people’s worst pre-cruising nightmare: provisioning. If you don’t have time to plan for yourself, take this book to the grocery store and buy everything on the weeklong menu shopping list. Then take the book cruising and follow the daily menu put together for a week. It’s likely to surprise and delight you. One thing is certain: you won ‘t starve! You won’t consider going back to boxes and cans either.

If you’re wondering what Jerry and I will be eating sans cooler, it comes down to eggs, cheeses, canned meat (we can our own), sauces, pasta, rice, and various cans of fruits and vegetables (see article in the January 1999 issue for the details). I can get pretty creative with what’s available. We’ll be out there sailing and eating well. The pressure-cooker tips and recipes included in this book will add to the galley repertoire.

Back To Top


First Aid at Sea

by Douglas Justins and Colin Berry (Paradise Cay, 2004: 28 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

First Aid at Sea is a handy reference that’s small enough to keep nearby for any emergency that might occur aboard. It’s lightweight and extremely easy to use with sturdy tabbed pages, bulleted points, drawings, and charts. It doesn’t focus solely on typical first-aid procedures — such as wounds, broken bones, and CPR — but also provides guidance for illness, hypothermia, drowning, burns, and emergency communications.

“Guidance” has got to be the operative word here, because the entries are brief and to-the-point. This book is not going to give you everything you ever wanted to know about burns, for example, but were afraid to ask. It will, however, get you started in seconds on what to do. You can look up the rest of the story in one of those larger tomes later.

This book may just offer the most appropriate sort of instant-response assistance. If you’re flustered by an unexpected health crisis, this handy little book can help with easy-to-find and easy-to-use notes. For this reason, we’ve put it on our boat.

First Aid at Sea was first printed in England in 1991 and has a British flavor — particularly the part that outlines emergency communication procedures — but it’s mostly about human bodies and keeping them healthy . . . an activity that crosses all communications barriers. It’s a neat little handbook. Just right for taking aboard with you.

Back To Top


Small Boat to Freedom: A Journey of Conscience to a New Life in America

by John Vigor (The Lyons Press, 2004; 288 pages; $21.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Small Boat to Freedom: A Journey of Conscience to a New Life in America is John Vigor’s tale of a wrenching lifestyle change made in 1987 at age 50. The South African government was crumbling as the anti-apartheid ANC became increasingly violent. Blacks and whites, regardless of political persuasion, were being lumped into color-coded groups, and the Vigors — who had raised their three sons in Durban and enjoyed good jobs for many years — were trapped in an uncomfortable position between the white Afrikaners and the black tribes, primarily Xhosas and Zulus.

John unravels the complicated politics of an unhappily multi-cultural society as he explains the desperate decision he and his family (wife and youngest son) made when they chose to leave their home and much of their accumulated wealth in order to start over in a place they hoped would allow them to live without fear. John’s wife, June, is an American citizen, and their two oldest sons were already in the U.S. when the threesome decided to sail from South Africa to Florida and not look back.

In addition to providing insight into the South African political turmoil of the time and the striking geography of the area, John offers information about stops along their journey north and a personal view of his innermost fears while charged with the responsibility of delivering his family safely across the ocean in a 31-foot sailboat. He also compares the voyages made by other seafaring authors who traveled the same route. They include Bernard Moitessier, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Joshua Slocum, Jean Gau, and the Polynesian navigators of long ago.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly even though John has told me his story briefly (Good Old Boat profile March 2003) and I have read an abbreviated version he wrote for Cruising World (January and February 1992).

Typically John’s sailing books offer nautical facts and technical advice for mariners. This book, showcasing his British sense of humor and wry self-deprecating approach to life, makes the reader appreciate John Vigor, the sailing journalist and author, in a new light: as just another sailor down the dock. Indeed, that is exactly what John Vigor is to the sailors in Bellingham, Washington, where he keeps Sangoma his current boat, a Cape Dory 27. The name is Zulu for natural healer, which is exactly what a sailboat should be.

Freelance, the Angelo Lavranos-designed Performance 31, which delivered John, June, and son, Kevin, to the U.S., was sold once they arrived in Florida, much to John’s eternal regret. He was saddened to learn that she had not been well cared for. But since the printing of the book, John has discovered that one more chapter has been written for the boat that he bonded with on his voyage. She is in good hands once more . . . a good old boat which will receive the good care she deserves.

Back To Top


A Cruising Guide to New Jersey Waters

by Don Launer (Rutgers University Press, 2004; 256 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

This isn’t so much a review as an announcement and endorsement. After all, how does one review a cruising guide except by using it for extensive cruising. (Humm . . . that does sound like fun, though, doesn’t it?)

Due to the many changes in the waterways, shore-side facilities, navigation, electronics, pollution regulations, and Homeland Security regulations following 9/11, Don Launer has just revised his A Cruising Guide to New Jersey Waters, originally published in 1995. This book remains the only book dealing exclusively with the navigable waters of New Jersey.
Don, a Good Old Boat contributing editor, holds a USCG captain’s license and brings many years of experience as a skipper of small boats to his nautical and historical guide to his home waters. If these are your home waters, or if you’re on your way there, don’t sail without Don’s cruising guide. It might be almost as good as having Don there in the cockpit beside you.

Back To Top


Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation

by Alan Gurney (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004, 307 pages, $22.95)
Reviewed by Brian Koger, Newport News, Va.

Compass opens with a cautionary tale of a modern mega-yacht nearly coming to grief because of the builder’s (and the owner’s) over-reliance on state-of-the-art electronic navigation. When the electronics failed, there was no way to navigate — which very nearly cost the unlucky sailors both the boat and their lives. Although the owner of the yacht made it back (and immediately had a magnetic compass installed) Compass is filled with many stories of much less fortunate mariners and the long struggle to produce a reliable and affordable marine compass.

As with the search for longitude, there were many false starts and centuries of experimentation before people finally got it right. Alan Gurney chronicles the many trials, errors, missteps, and outright buffoonery that eventually led to the modern magnetic compass so many of us (including me, until I read this book) now take for granted. What today can be purchased for a few dollars and is considered little more than a child’s toy by many was so very precious during the great age of sail that anyone caught tampering with it would have his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger.

While reading the book, one can’t help but wonder how mariners in the Age of Discovery ever found anything at all. Some of the finest minds in European history — Sir Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley (the discoverer of the comet that bears his name), and even Captain James Cook worked for years — and with limited success — on the problems of magnetic variation (changes in the Earth ‘s magnetic field) and deviation (compass error caused by magnetic attraction to metals near the compass itself). Until reading the book, I had no idea just how lost most people were for so many years.

Compass is an excellent historical, adventure, and even technical book — and manages to cover all three areas well. Although the book has a heavy British emphasis (naturally enough, since Britannia “ruled the waves” for so long) and deals primarily with naval and merchant vessels, the stories are just as applicable to small boats regardless of nationality. It would be an excellent addition to the onboard library (to read during a passage or at night while at anchor) or to have at home to develop an appreciation for what it took to develop the compass we so often undervalue. I, for one, will never look at my compass the same way again.

Back To Top


Wind & Wave, a 2005 Calendar Celebrating Yachting

by John McVie (Wyman Publishing, 2004; $12.99 U.S., $16.99 Canada)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

John McVie, son of the internationally known photographer, Canadian Jim McVie, has just produced a calendar celebrating sailing and his father’s photography. Jim covered most major yacht races in the Pacific Northwest from the 1950s into the early 1990s. To see more of Jim’s work, have a look at John’s site http://www.mcvieyachtingphotography.com. The color photos John selected for the 2005 calendar are exquisite. He’s so inspired by this project he’s already working on 2006. The calendar is available in major bookstores and from Wyman Publishing in Ottawa, Ontario, http://www.wymanpublishing.com.

Back To Top


French for Cruisers

by Kathy Parsons (Adventuras Publishing and Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 352 pages; $29.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Jerry and I hope to transit the St. Lawrence within the decade ahead. When we do, he’ll be relying on my school-girl French to get us through Quebec. For my part, I’ll be relying on Kathy Parson’s French for Cruisers (along with another great little gem called Yachtsman’s Ten Language Dictionary, by Barbara Webb and Michael Manton) for the many words I’ve forgotten and for the hundreds more I never learned. How else will we shop for sandpaper, stove alcohol, and cotter pins? It seems like these words should have been covered at least by French 203. Perhaps they were taught the day I skipped class and went to the lake . . . Kathy started out by creating Spanish for Cruisers in 2000. That book was such a hit with sailors, the French version was an obvious encore. The French book is divided into handy sections such as customs and immigration, sails and upholstery, emergencies, navigation, weather, engines, boatyards, talking to mechanics, and so on, along with the standard phrases available for non-boating tourists (shopping, directions, time of day. . . ). In many cases, illustrations are also included for pointing out to locals when words fail (as they often do). It also includes an index/dictionary to help get you back to the section you seek when you see an unknown ingredient on a label, an unusual shop sign, or an unfamiliar item on a menu. To save you some thumbing through the book, well-used phrases are printed, conveniently, on the inside covers. Before you begin using the book, it is helpful to acquaint yourself with Kathy’s handy chapters on pronunciation and grammar tips. This book is useful to any cruiser, whether he has taken basic French or not, who heads off to French tropical paradise locations as well as Quebec or the canals of France. From what I have seen of this book, I would buy Kathy’s Spanish for Cruisers in a heartbeat if I were heading for Spanish-speaking areas (even though I don’t have any school-girl Spanish to back that up). It may, come to think of it, come in handy in some parts of the U.S.A. when we do some sailing adventures with our trailerable boat.

Back To Top


Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor

by C. A. Marchaj, (International Marine Publishing Company, 1988; 371 pages; out of print)
Reviewed by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

What have boat designs lost in the quest for windward performance? Has a century of yacht racing corrupted our ability to design safe, all-around cruisers? How do you quantify a yacht’s comfort and safety characteristics? Do boat owners even understand why their boats have certain features?
While addressing these questions in Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor, C. A. Marchaj attacks modern yachts and promotes the benefits of full-keel, heavy-displacement designs. He relentlessly criticizes the fin keel and skeg rudder and identifies well-known boat designers as charlatans. Marchaj casts doubt upon the entire enterprise of organized keelboat racing, noting the craziness of human ballast hanging on the rail and the inefficiency of extremely heeled light displacement-boats. More troubling, according to the author, are racing design features which make their way into general-purpose boats, where the quest for windward speed at all costs is not a legitimate requirement. Nonetheless the casual boater does not have the option of, nor understand, alternatives that would improve comfort, safety, and cost., Marchaj supports his points with detailed math formulas, which may be incomprehensible to some skippers, but the accompanying graphs and pictures are telling and much more accessible. Be prepared for incredible detail, such as individual chapters on pitch, roll, and yaw. But with repetition and visualization, you may begin to literally feel as you read the complex motions of a boat underway. In particular, the drawings of a heavy displacement yacht leaning into waves, maintaining equilibrium, make imminent sense. The action pictures of modern designs will make racing seem needlessly dangerous, not exciting. Though most of the book analyzes hull design, Marchaj also has counterintuitive views above the waterline, such as his support of heavy masts and rigs to dampen roll.

Sailors typically think about wind, and it is easier to study rigs, deck hardware, and other visible features. The primary value of Seaworthiness is the intense focus on hull designs. Even weekend sailors will benefit from ideas from this book; they will understand characteristics that make their boats more comfortable in a storm and may start thinking much more about the hull under the waterline when they evaluate their next boat. Whether you agree with Marchaj or not, he offers a perspective on design that is not typically reflected at today’s boat shows.

Used copies of Seaworthiness can be found for $20 to $30. Contact BookMark at Good Old Boat for this or other out-of-print books: 763-420-8923.

Back To Top


Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales

edited by Hazel Hitson Weidman and Jacqueline Korona Teare (Trafford Publishing, 2003; 179 pages; $16.99)
Reviewed by George Zimmerman, Olympia, Wash.

Are you a sailor who routinely undergoes the substantial effort required to take to your dog or cat sailing with you? If you answered yes to this question, then Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales is a book for you. Animal lovers who enjoy the antics of our furry friends will also find enjoyment in this book. Wet Pets and Other Water Tales, edited by Hazel Hitson Weidman and Jacqueline Korona Teare, is a collection of 50 short stories about pets (mostly dogs, some cats, and one or two ducks) who “share water locations, waterborne adventures or have a special liking for water.” Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the No-Kill Animal Shelter operated by the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League. Owners, who love animals and cherish the way they enrich their lives, write the 50 stories. “Owners” may be the legal status for people in the people-animal relationship, but these pets are actually full status members of the family. Pets are the stars of the book but, through the eyes and experiences of the writers, the reader gets a good idea of what day-to-day life is like in a rural town in Maine by the ocean. The visual scenes depicted by some of the better writers, the frustrations and joys of getting a pet used to sailing, and the far-ranging personalities of the pets make this book worth reading.

Having spent many hours with my beagle-pointer dog, Whidbey, in, around, and on the waters of the Puget Sound, I could easily identify with many scenes in the book. The activity described by one author had particular meaning: “My dog and I discovered magic places in our bay and nearby islands, with soft moss underfoot, the sweet smell of balsam, the crash of waves against the rocks and the cries of gulls, tern and osprey.” In the 14 1/2 years, my dog has been with me, we have likewise discovered many of our own magic spots. This book has special meaning to me as my dog is well into the twilight years of his life and our active life together has been replaced by time at home and providing him with comfort and care. Reading these stories brought me back to the days when a stick or tennis ball on the shores of Puget Sound meant hours of fun and companionship under a blue summer sky. Wet Pets is not a book you want to read in a two or three hour setting. Rather, it should be viewed as a plate of 50 hors d’ouvers, which you can sample until your hunger for furry companionship is satisfied. And when hungry again, return and sample some more. Nicely done and done for a good cause. Enjoy it!

Back To Top


How to Rename your Boat and 19 Other Useful Ceremonies,
Superstitions, Prayers, Rituals, and Curses

by John Vigor (Paradise Cay, 2004; 139 pages; $10.95)
Reviewed by Karla Houdek, Minneapolis, Minn.

With the book, How to Rename Your Boat, John Vigor has concocted useful ceremonies, prayers, rituals, and curses for any boating superstitions you may have. I didn’t realize there are so many precautions that should be taken to avoid any negative superstitions from haunting you and your boat. This book is full of prayers and rituals that encourage safe and enjoyable voyages.I was particularly entertained by the section on curses. Specifically, I enjoyed the curses designed for powerboaters leaving large wakes. John Vigor’s feelings about these boaters are fairly clear with this “curse:”

Woe to you, thou beslubbering speedhog!
May your filters choke and your injectors freeze.
May every ill befalling a boat bring you to your knees.
May you run out of whiskey and ice cubes, too.
May there be no more pleasure for you and your crew.
May all your bronze tarnish and your varnish all flake.
May your batteries die and your propellers shake.
May your anchors drag and your bilges overflow.
May you rot in a hell where they make you go slow.
Curse you! Curse you! My curse upon you wherever you go.

There are no laws stating that you cannot rename your boat. However, it is believed to bring bad luck to boaters who rename their boats without first completing the proper de-naming ceremony. Since you don’t want to take chances when it comes to bad luck, you should be willing to go through the proper steps or any type of ceremony when it comes to your boat. After all, it’s a big ocean out there.This book was written specifically to assist you with renaming your boat along with curing any other types of boating superstitions you may have. Even if you’re not a superstitious person now, you might become one once something bad happens to you in those unknown waters because you didn’t take the time to follow through with proper ceremonial procedures as discussed in John’s book. I recommend keeping a copy of this book aboard your boat. You never know when you’ll need to pray for wind, have a ceremony to bury a dead body at sea, cast a curse on an obnoxious powerboater, or simply need a good laugh.

Back To Top


The Last Great Adventure of Sir Peter Blake: Sir Peter Blake’s Logbooks

edited by Alan Sefton (Sheridan House, 2004; 240 pages; $39.95)
Reviewed by Lon Zimmerman, Anchorage, Alaska

“Why are we here? . . . We want to start people caring for the environment as it must be cared for . . . We want to make a difference.” – Sir Peter Blake

This large-format book documents the voyage of Sir Peter Blake and crew of Seamaster, from Auckland, New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic Peninsula and then to South America and up the Amazon River. It is a beautiful book about an amazing man on an incredible voyage in a most unique sailboat. This is the ultimate coffee-table book. I tested it on unsuspecting friends. Not one could resist picking it up, and all were intrigued. The ensuing conversations inevitably turned on the voyage of Seamaster.

Seamaster is a fascinating boat, a vessel designed to safely bring her crew from the Antarctic to the Amazon and yet model how wastes can be managed in an environmentally sound manner. Sir Peter Blake received two Sportsman of the Year awards, four Yachtsman of the Year awards, and the Prix de L’Aventure Sportive. He was named Member of the British Empire (MBE) and Officer of the British Empire (OBE). Sir Peter was Special Envoy of the United Nations ‘ Environmental Programme (UNEP). He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 1995, and was considered ” a good Kiwi Bloke” by his mates.

He sailed Sydney-Hobarts, Fastnets, the Doublehanded Round Britain Race, Trans-Tasmans, a trans-Atlantic race, and the two-handed Around Australia Race. He won the Whitbread, the Trophée Jules Verne, and the America’s Cup. With six trips around the world, Sir Peter logged more than 600,000 sea miles.

Sir Peter became aware of damage to the oceans while racing around the world. He noted a decline of the giant albatross from the 1980s. The seabirds become entangled in the enormous fishing nets deployed by commercial fisheries. He was concerned by the trend in commercial fishing that target and remove entire fish stocks. “Incidental catch,” such as an albatross, is discarded by an industry too focused on the bottom line.

When reading Sir Peter’s log book, it is easy to forget that he is gone. I enjoyed the daily progress of Seamaster and her crew. Each daily log has entries for: latitude, longitude, course, sea, air temp., sea temp., barometer, and location. This data is followed by Sir Peter’s narrative about events on board or comments on the history and geography of the region and notes on the wildlife observed. Sometimes the narrative comes from crewmembers discussing an area of special interest. Narrative is always accompanied by photographs, some spanning two pages to increase their dramatic effect.

Sir Peter’s comments bring to mind the ideas of Jacques Cousteau. That is not surprising. Sir Peter assumed leadership of the Cousteau Society in 1997 after Jacques’ death. He left the Cousteau Society to form his own organization, Blakexpeditions, to educate and motivate the young about ecological causes, especially the state of the world’s oceans.

When Seamaster turns to begin the journey back down the Amazon, I feel a sense of sadness, knowing the adventure must end with the murder of Sir Peter by river pirates.

Sir Peter did make a difference. The Last Great Adventure of Sir Peter Blake does make a difference. This is a great book. As a gift, it would surprise and delight a friend.

Back To Top


Ship to Shore: A Dictionary of Everyday Words and Phrases
Derived from the Sea

by Peter D. Jeans (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2004; 433 pages; $18.95)
Reviewed by Pat Morris St. Paul, Minn.

It seems fairly logical that words like “launch,” “moonlighting,” and even “nausea” (more about this one later) would have nautical origins. But what about “billboard,” “flimsy,” or “ringleader”? Those words and many other words and phrases that are regularly used by English-speaking sailors and landlubbers alike also originated on or near the sea. “Ringleader,” for example, came from the “round robin” concept, meaning a “petition or protest written in circular form so that no particular signature heads the list and therefore no one person can be singled out as a ringleader . . . originally used by sailors when urging a formal protest or claim on their superior officers.”

Ship to Shore’s author, Peter Jeans, is an English teacher and sailor who has an abiding interest in history, which is what makes this book far more than just a dictionary. It’s a fun read as well as a wonderful resource and would make a great gift for any sailor or even a non-sailor who is interested in nautical history, etymology, or trivia. The author is clearly passionate about words and all things nautical. It is easy to tell that he enjoyed doing the research and writing this book.

The entries for each word often give more information than is offered in an ordinary dictionary. You may already know that the word nausea came from the Greek nausia, seasickness. But where else are you going to learn that when “nausea is combined with a drunken headache, the resulting condition is nicely expressed by the word crapulous.”

Back To Top


The Lo-Tech Navigator

by Tony Crowley (Sheridan House, 2004; 148 pages; $17.95)
Reviewed by Durkee Richards, Sequim, Wash.

Tony Crowley has provided boaters with a enjoyable book that contains instructions for building a variety of useful navigation tools. It combines these with reminiscences, rules of thumb, and even a recipe for Spanish Armada omelet. Some of the navigation tools would make great projects when working with student mariners.

Tony has spent a great deal of time at sea, both as a former British merchant navy officer, and later as a sailor. This book shows that he clearly enjoyed the art of navigation and found satisfaction in revisiting and improving historical navigation tools and techniques. The largest portion of this book deals with astral navigation.

Topics range from a “sun compass” — a handy technique for using the early morning sun to find true east or the late-day sun for finding west — to a lengthy chapter entitled “Sun Navigation in a Nutshell.” This chapter starts with the basics of sextant sun sights and includes a poem to help guide the student through the steps of sight reduction. It then continues with construction projects for a mariner’s quadrant, a cross-staff, an improved back-staff, and an octant.

The final part of the sun navigation section is entitled “Dire Straits Navigation.” It features a clever way to construct a quadrant using only a sheet of paper, a small board, and a few pins. Then the author gives some rules of thumb to help calculate the sun’s declination and the time at which the sun will cross the Greenwich Meridian. He again uses a poem as a memory aid and attributes David Burch’s classic book, Emergency Navigation, as his inspiration.

Use of some of the navigation tool projects, such as quadrants and the cross-staff, require sighting directly toward the sun. And these instruments traditionally do not incorporate sun shades. Cautions about taking sufficient measures to protect your eyesight are a bit understated. Please take particular care, especially if working with young mariners.

Sailors who cruise in waters with significant tidal currents will especially enjoy the chapter called “The Magic of 6°,” which gives an easy rule of thumb for computing the course correction required to compensate for currents. Tony also includes a very nice discussion about how to visually detect currents that he calls “Reading the Sea.”

This is an appealing book that includes an eclectic range of topics. Some are interesting variations on known themes, others are included to amuse, and some provide unexpected insight into the art of navigation (such as using the motion of Kochab around Polaris to find longitude).

Back To Top


She’ll Cross an Ocean, If You Will

by Dan Smith (Kohinoor Press, 2004; 282 pages; $34.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dan Smith became the de facto historian of the Allied Boat Company as the corresponding secretary of the Allied Seawind Owners’ Association. The cartons of documents which came with the job elevated his interest in the company which had gone out of business in 1984. Soon he was searching for more information about the company. The rest, as they say, truly is history . . . a history book for the owners and lovers of Allied Boats, the Seawind 30 in particular and other boats by Tom Gillmer.

She’ll Cross an Ocean If You Will is Dan’s summary of his research conducted over many years, the story of his own Seawind 30 which was damaged beyond repair in a hurricane, the stories of two famous Seawind sailors (Alan Eddy and Dan Jelsema), and background about the Seawind Owners’ Association.

Most importantly though, Dan’s book presents the history of the Allied Boat Company and a profile of designer Tom Gillmer. For Gillmer fans and those who are passionate about the Allied boats (most of which have something akin to cult status) this book will be invaluable. Due to Alan Eddy’s historic first circumnavigation between 1964 and 1969 in a fiberglass boat — the Allied Seawind 30 — this book is relevant to all those who now follow behind so willingly in fiberglass boats whether on bluewater passages or coastal cruising. We have the fiberglass pioneers to thank for our boats today.

The Allied Boat Company, designer Tom Gillmer, and Alan Eddy are our heroes, and we can thank Dan Smith for telling their stories in She’ll Cross an Ocean If You Will.

Back To Top


A Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route

by Cheryl Barr (Yacht Pilot Publishing, 2004; 198 pages; $44.95)
Reviewed by Bill Sandifer, Diamondhead, Miss.

After reading two articles about the Down East Circle Route, I decided I needed to know more about this cruise and the book about it by Nova Scotian Captain Cheryl Barr. When I got the guide, I was hooked on the guide, which is almost as good as I think the cruise will be. Best of all, you can enjoy it in the comfort of your easy chair.

The book is well written and is not so much a cruising guide as a narrative of the things you can see and do on the cruise with navigational information included. It takes you from New York Harbor up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, through the Erie Canal to Oswego to Kingston, Ontario, through the Thousand Islands, out the St. Lawrence around the Gaspé Peninsula, back through Nova Scotia, Maine, the Cape Cod Canal, and to your point of origin in New York. Each segment is illustrated with pictures, charts, and an excellent description of what you will encounter along the way. There are excellent recommendations for places of interest, methods of handling the tides, currents, and locks and small, detailed descriptions of why “bluenoses” are called “bluenoses.”

All in all, a most enjoyable cruising guide that is much more than just a guide but an excellent narrative, well written and entertaining in its own right.

Back To Top


Unfurling the Heart: Love’s Persuasion

by Susea McGearhart (Whitecaps Publishing, 2004; 316 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Theresa Fort Deale, Md.

Unfurling the Heart is the story of the making of a cruising couple through a four-month “seabatical” to the Bahamas told from the wife’s perspective. The author bares all and is candid about her fears and desires. She learns that cruising is not done for fun but for its liberating lifestyle. She learns how smiling and forced bravery can lead to a positive attitude when times get rough.

And, even though the time span of the cruise is only four months, the couple deals with many of the situations that some long-term cruisers experience: the work required in living aboard and cruising, concerns and health issues with a pet on board, the loss of a parent while cruising far from home, and the anxieties and realities of staying in touch with loved ones. Susea, by the way, already has one book under her belt. She is co-author of Red Sky in Mourning with Tami Oldham Ashcraft.

The cover and title worried me. I was suspicious that this would be a fluffy book about love and cruising. In fact, I was biased against it in the beginning. But even though there are a few too many metaphors connecting love to sailing and cruising, I was drawn into this couple’s story and found myself wondering what would happen next. Susea’s story was worth telling. This book has honest information about what women sailors experience and how they feel about life while cruising.

Some readers may find the detail a little monotonous because it is an almost daily account of Susea ‘s first cruise. But there is value in all that detail. I found it to be a good example of just what a first cruise is like for a couple with a pet dog exploring a new country. In actuality, cruising itself can be monotonous at times.

The great number of photos throughout the book help illustrate the couple’s experience. I enjoyed reading about and getting to see many of the places our family visited several years ago on our own cruise to the Bahamas. In fact, I found the book to have excellent and useful information about cruising in Bahamian waters; it would be fun to bring it along to read while sailing there.

Susea McGearheart covers the emotional aspects of cruising that pre-cruisers and beginning cruisers need to know before setting sail. Through the eyes of the wife, Unfurling the Heart is a warm and sometimes tumultuous sail through the initiation of a cruising couple.

Back To Top


Ham Radio For Dummies

by Ward Silver (Wiley, 2004; 380 pages; $21.99)
Reviewed by Jon Paulus, Parma, Ohio

So you’d like to venture out farther into the world of two-way communication? You say the FRS radios you bought to keep track of the kids and your marine VHF aren’t enough? You’d like to become a licensed amateur radio operator, but haven’t a clue where to start? Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky? Well, never fear, Ward Silver has written a book for you!

In his book, Ham Radio For Dummies, Ward clearly presents, with technical precision and a dash of humor, everything you need to know to gain licensure as a ham operator. Be aware that this book will not, by itself, prepare you to get your license. Instead, it will tell you how to prepare, what resources you need, and where to look for them. The book does not, for example, teach you Morse code. Instead it guides you through the process of finding the best way to learn it. For each step of the way, Ward discusses the options, tells you the best ways to get through that step, and offers sound reasoning as to why this is the best path to choose.

This book is very easy to read. The folksy, conversational style, common to other books in the Dummies series, is prevalent here. Sidebars explain concepts in depth while bullets highlight important details. Technical jargon is defined in common terms. Ward becomes your “Elmer,” the ham radio term for a trusted friend and mentor who tells you what you need to know to enter this world and make it yours.

If you’re interested in becoming a ham operator, buy this book. Read it, and the process of becoming a ham operator will move from daunting to doable.

Back To Top


Ralph Stanley: Tales of a Maine Boatbuilder

by Ralph Stanley and Craig Milner (Down East Books, 2004; 160 pages; $25.00)
Reviewed by Bill Hammond, Minneapolis, Minn.

When I was asked to review Ralph Stanley: Tales of a Maine Boatbuilder, I was already prone to like the book. First, I love wooden boats. Second, I have met Ralph Stanley — or, more precisely, seen him in action. My family has a place across Frenchman Bay from Mount Desert Island where for more than half a century Ralph Stanley has plied his trade. I have stood on hallowed ground in Southwest Harbor — the air rife with scents of freshly hewn timbers — and watched as he planed a garboard plank intended for a Maine lobster boat and inserted a “fashion piece” onto the stern of a nearly completed Friendship sloop. He and his associates went about their business that day as though on a mission. Nonetheless, they were more than hospitable to gawkers wandering in from the street and all but blushed with home-spun modesty whenever one of us commented on the beauty of the boats they were building.

So I had high expectations for this book and was not disappointed. The book, written in cooperation with journalist Craig Milner, is a gem. It matters naught whether or not the reader has an interest in how wooden boats are designed and built. There are several chapters devoted to these issues but, as with everything in this book, they are written in classic understatement.

The remaining 27 short chapters carry the reader through the life of this Renaissance man and the many influences that have fashioned his career. We meet his family. We meet summer people “from away” who take young Ralph under their wing. We even meet Hillary Clinton and other government dignitaries when Ralph is summoned to Washington to receive a highly coveted Master Artist award from the National Heritage Fellowship.

But it is when he is describing his boats that the essence of Ralph Stanley emerges. In the back of the book is a list of 60-some vessels that have come out of his shop, including the names of people for whom they were built, starting with a lapstrake dory in 1946 and ending with a Friendship sloop in 2004. It would be no different for a parent describing his children or an author or artist profiling her portfolio of creativity. All are labors of love.

In current world, where people seem obsessed with material possessions and a “me too” mentality, it is refreshing to meet a man of substance and genuine humility for whom shallow emotions are unfathomable. They simply aren’t part of who he is, never could be.

Ralph’s view of life is his work, his desire to make a design already appreciated into something perhaps a little bit more appreciated. His life is a testimony to the values of old-fashioned work ethics, genuine humility, and a constant striving for excellence. You can almost hear him add: “Ayuh, building wooden boats is what I do. What’s all the fuss about?”

Back To Top


The Biggest Boat I Could Afford: Sailing Up the U.S. Coast in a Dinghy

by Lee Hughes (Sheridan House, 2004; 304 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wis.

What do you get when you combine an undeniable fear of the ocean, a healthy dose of mid-life crisis, and a serious case of open-mouth-insert-footitis? Why, the makings of a cruising memoir, of course. Even though Lee Hughes grew up in New Zealand, where boating is a national pastime, he reached adulthood with a very real and unexplainable fear of big water. The other two ingredients can be attributed to the male ego and testosterone, which tend to reinforce each other.

Hughes has published two other books in New Zealand: Straight From the Horse’s Ass, in 1995, and Shooting From the Lip, in 1999, which, in his words, “dealt with my nine years in the New Zealand army and the disasters I inflicted on myself and my fellow officers.”

In this book he makes reference to a woman he had had a relationship with years before. Somehow, after almost suing him for slander, they end up in a romantic relationship in which Lee conversationally paints himself into a corner that leads to his minimalist’s sailing adventure from Key West to New York via the Intracoastal Waterway, in a 16-foot Wayfarer dinghy named Wanderer.

The first half of The Biggest Boat I Could Afford tells how Lee decides to make, or gets himself trapped, into making the voyage then details how he travels from New Zealand to Fort Lauderdale, via Wyoming and Canada, to pick up his boat, which he bought sight-unseen over the Internet from the owner who was in England. At this point you may wonder when, or even if, he is ever going to get down to sailing.

He does indeed in the second, more serious half of book. After outfitting Wanderer in Fort Lauderdale, he sails to Key West where his trip officially begins. He deals with his fear, the weather, tides, loneliness, and inexperience. He meets total strangers who come to his aid when he has equipment failures or simply needs directions.

Lee’s style is straightforward and humorous, and he’s more than willing to laugh at himself. If you’re in the market for a semi-serious treatise on one man’s struggle with mid-life crisis or would like to see how little equipment some people need, you would probably enjoy The Biggest Boat I Could Afford. It’s also a welcome reminder that, more often than not, a journey is much more than simply going from point A to point B.

Back To Top


Escape from Someday Isle

edited by Linda Ridihalgh (Living Aboard; 2004; 226 pages; $18.00)
Reviewed by Karen Larson Minneapolis, Minn.

Anyone who hopes to live aboard or cruise full time someday will want to talk to others who have already lived this dream. Lots of others . . .as many as possible . . . with all kinds of opinions. For the “someday dreamers,” the editors of Living Aboard magazine have organized a large gathering of liveaboards who have been there and done that and, in most cases, made it look easy.

And they’ve invited the dreamers among us to the party. Even better than a party that might not fit our time schedule or be held in location near home, this gathering of singles, couples, and families who made the transition to living aboard is available in the pages of a book, Escape from Someday Isle, a collection of the best articles printed over the years in Living Aboard magazine.

As attendees at this elite gathering, we can ” explore” the boats of liveaboards learning about their solutions to problems and gathering tips. We can delve into their minds asking how and why and why not. Unconstrained, we can ask about money issues, about lack of privacy, about personal issues. And we can do all of this at a pace that works for us. They’ll answer our questions (the ones they’ve heard a thousand times before), tell us what worked for them, reminisce about the good and the bad parts of making the transition and living it, and reassure the timid among us.

The pages of Living Aboard magazine are replete with the stories of making the move: before, during, and after. It’s told by many boaters with varying opinions. They sing the siren song with hundreds of voices. This book gathers the best of the advice and observations and makes it available to those who would do likewise. If you’re planning, hoping, or dreaming of a liveaboard lifestyle, this is one book you don’t want to miss. You don ‘t need a special occasion to add it to your bookshelf. You’ve been invited to a gathering. That’s special occasion enough. Don’t miss out.

Back To Top


A Voyage Toward Vengeance

by Jule Miller (Paradise Cay Publications, 2004; 336 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Jon Paulus, Parma, Ohio

Are you a fan of nautical fiction, particularly adventure or murder mystery stories with a nautical twist? You likely know that it’s been a while since Sam Llewellyn has cranked out one of his sailing thrillers. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series is a limited set. What’s a sailor to read? Jule Miller, a retired engineer and sailor who lives in the Caribbean has stepped in to fill the void. His book, A Voyage Toward Vengeance, is filled with all of the elements that lovers of mysteries and nautical fiction enjoy. Detailed descriptions of sailboats, weather, landfalls, and the beautiful Caribbean locales will keep the winter armchair sailor satisfied. The story, complete with missing persons, murder, sunken vessels, unlikely comrades, and a couple of real sociopaths, will entertain the mystery/adventure lover.

The main character, Bill Stroud, is newly retired. He’s a fellow who also has recently suffered a number of losses. He is emotionally adrift and purposeless in New England. Even his beloved hobby of sailing has no meaning. He is on a downward spiral until he sees a picture postcard of a Caribbean marina which contains a boat that looks just like the one owned by his daughter and son-in-law. The problem is that they were lost at sea, presumed dead and their boat sunk.

He leaves New England in search of the vessel and the answers to questions about what really happened to the boat and crew. Along the way he teams up with a woman who has similarly lost her parents. Their pursuit of the truth and wrestling with ethical dilemmas along the way, drive the story. Slowly they uncover the truth, and slowly Bill rediscovers himself along the way.

This is the first non-fiction effort by Miller, and it’s a good one. He includes lots of nautical detail — enough to satisfy the sailor. The depth of this detail was daunting to a non-sailing reader with whom I shared the book. Miller knows what he’s talking about when it comes to sailing, and his descriptions of nautical scenes are excellent. As far his general writing is concerned, there were a couple of times when he telegraphed the story line a bit too broadly. This is a small fault, however, and the book is a most enjoyable read. The adventurous reader might find himself or herself drawn to sail the idyllic Caribbean. The reader with a vivid imagination might also find himself or herself imagining pirates lurking in every anchorage.

Back To Top


Your First Sailboat

by Daniel Spurr (International Marine/McGraw Hill 2004; 270 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Michael Gude, Ames, Iowa

There are many books on the market that can help you take your first steps on your sailing career. I personally have about three feet of shelf devoted to that subject. Dan Spurr’s Your First Sailboat differs because it not only tells you how to find the right boat for you, it tells you what to do with it afterward. Fiberglass or wood, size, hull design, how to assess a vessel’s quality, and more are all covered to some extent in these pages.

This book does an excellent job of alleviating some of the doubt a potential new sailor may feel while considering a plunge into the world of motorless boating. One of my favorite parts of the book was the “What if . . .” section that covers what to do in a variety of worst-case scenarios that novice sailors often worry about. Disasters such as dismasting to a full-blown sinking boat are discussed in a humorous way that puts them in perspective.

The information in this book is very general, covering the basics of what you would need to learn once you actually owned a sailboat. For example, the section “Handling Your First Sailboat” should not be looked to as a definitive guide to sailboat piloting. I am sure this is by design though, as this book seems intended as a sort of recruitment tool for potential sailors. I would view it as a guide to what you will need to know, not necessarily the detailed information itself.

While reading this book I often found myself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that before I bought my boat!” For that reason I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who already owns a boat (unless they are in the market for another), but if you know anyone who has expressed the slightest interest in getting into sailing, but is reluctant to take the plunge — get them this book.

Back To Top


Return to the Sea

by Webb Chiles (Sheridan House Inc., 2004; 224 pages; $26.95)
Reviewed by George Allred Indialantic, Florida

“…I walked the bow back until, when the shrouds were even with the end of the side tie, I stepped aboard. Nothing held to the country in which I was born almost 60 years earlier. I did not know that I would ever see it again.

Disconnect.”

With that, Webb Chiles departs Boston to complete his fourth circumnavigation.

Return to the Sea is a personal narrative of the completion of Webb’s fourth circumnavigation. And it is a very good one. It has no aspirations of being a cruising guide. As you read, you go where Webb’s mind and boat go.

The first part of the book is a brief introduction to the man and his travels: his wives and boats. He describes sailing around Cape Horn single-handed as the first American to do this. He describes his boat sinking off eastern Florida and how he acquires his next boat, The Hawke of Tuonela, and his next wife, Carol.

The reader sees a little bit of Webb’s internal turmoil when Carol joins him during his journey and becomes a part-time cruiser.

Webb is engrossing as he describes his visits to various ports along the way back to Sydney: the Azores, Portugal, and Gibraltar. He includes vivid accounts of places off the beaten path: the goats in Dakar, Senegal; Christmas in Salvador, Brazil; the luxurious Blue Train that travels between Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa.

As Webb crosses the North Atlantic to Portugal, the reader gets a glimpse of life aboard during ocean passages. Then he crosses the Southern Atlantic to Brazil and on to South Africa. Then there are five weeks traveling the last ocean from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia.

My one issue was that the end of his trip was lightly discussed. I would have preferred more. This book should be on the short reading list for every sailor who dreams of leaving. If leaving is not in you retirement plans, but living vicariously through others is, this book should be very entertaining. But be careful, the byproduct of reading this book could cause you to update that five-year plan to take off. I have.

Back To Top


Des Pawson’s Knot Craft

by Des Pawson (Paradise Cay Publications, Inc., 2003; 96 pages, $10.95)
Reviewed by Carolyn Corbett Brainerd, Minn.

Select your Swedish fid, your heaver, and your marlinespike; gather up your gunk, goos, and tar; consider your cordage. Then tie into one of the 28 ropework projects packed in this practical guide. From a simple key ring utilizing a single yard of line to an ocean mat requiring more than 82 feet of rope, there are step-by-step directions and detailed illustrations to keep you on course.

Des Pawson, a professional ropeworker for more than 25 years, describes this book as a “recipe book, ” rather than a “how-to-tie-knots” book. Knotwork is Des’ passion, and he has worked for years to compile the cuisine presented in this volume. Like any good chef, he encourages the reader/roper to order à la carte, to mix and match knots and techniques, to season the stew to one’s own specifications.

An impressive smorgasbord of projects is featured: fenders, binocular straps, tiller and boathook covers, belts, a whisk, and several types of deck mats, among others. It ‘s your choice: the blue plate special or haute cuisine. Each project is accompanied by an introductory section, a checklist of required materials, a rundown of knots used (with references to other pages in the book when necessary), and the method/directions, along with a selection of illustrations.

The book opens with a section covering tips of the trade: favored tools and knots, converting measurements to metric, and choosing the appropriate cordage. Appendices offer information on suppliers of cordage, the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and recommended reading on knotting. An index comes in handy, as well

This is well-written, well-illustrated book, peppered with vocabulary sure to broaden the linguistic horizons of the non-knotter. I honestly found both the book and the projects appealing. That said, honesty also requires me to admit something else.

After receiving the book and scanning the menu, I promptly decided that a “simple key ring” was just what my life was lacking. I flipped to the first project confident that I could master what was obviously the most appropriate undertaking for a beginner. I spent several hours and a goodly allotment of my patience pondering the pointers and poring over the illustrations. I flopped. My soufflé fell.

No simple key ring with single and double boatswain’s whistle lanyard knots for this reader. No forward progression to the pretty port and starboard earrings I could have made with heavy red and green thread using the same knots. Definitely no grommet for a game of deck quoits!

My final assessment? I cheerfully recommend this book to every not-knot-challenged reader with an interest in rope crafts!

Back To Top


The Sailor’s Hornbook or ABC; With a Vermiform Appendix on Racing Terminology

by David O’Neal (Global Publishing, 2004, 138 pages, $15.00)
Reviewed by Karen Larson Minneapolis, Minn.

David O’ Neal is a funny guy. He’s written a sailors’ lexicon that will make any sailor laugh. I imagine him sitting with friends over glasses of wine while dreaming up crazy meanings for sailing words and inventing nonsense words for sailing situations lacking a word of their own. It can’t be easy. I don’t think he could do this sort of thing in isolation. A few examples follow.

Mast – 1) A church service, where prayers are offered for those putting out to sea. Half-mast is a shorter service. Captain’s mast are special prayers for the captain. 2) A most excellent conductor of lightening. In this sense, half-mast is after the lightening has struck.

Dousing sails – Sails occasionally burst into flames by spontaneous combustion in equatorial climates. Therefore they must be doused with water now and then. If buckets or hoses are not available, turning turtle will suffice.

Reef – 1) A ridge at or near the surface of the water usually composed of dead coral, a few live creatures, and parts of boats. 2) To reduce the sail area in order to avoid being overpowered by the wind. Reefing is usually done with lines, rather than with knives or shears, so that the reefed sail, when shaken out, will be the same size as it was originally.

Causeway – A raised way of land connecting two islands. Under no circumstances is a causeway to be confused with a bridge.

BATERISTAAR – Abbreviation for Boat Aground, Tide Ebbing, Reef Increasing in Size, Tow Aground Also — Rats! — which succinctly describes this nasty situation.

Abaft – In a direction farther aft than a specified reference position, such as abaft the mast. Abaft the bowsprit is vague and rarely used.

Obviously Dave is not taking any of this, including himself, all too seriously. In his biography, he says, “Mr. O’Neal now resides on a houseboat in Florida . . . He lives with his wife, Velocity Swift, his salty dog, Wharf, and his parrot, Kidd. . . . A consummate liar, Mr. O’Neal has falsified his credentials and fabricated his sailing résumé. Currently he is operating as a delivery skipper under several assumed names.

I don’t believe any of this. I don’t think his dog is named Wharf or that Wharf makes a noise like that when he barks (although David might). Every sailor knows that wharf and woof are the horizontal and vertical threads in Dacron sails which begin life as bed sheets but are then dipped in vats of Dacron coating, making them impermeable to rain but fragile when exposed to sunlight. Therefore all sails should be kept covered all the time. Except at night.

Hey! This is easy, after all! Refill my wine glass; I’m just getting started!

Back To Top


Working Rope: Field Guides for Rigging: Basic Braided Splices

by Brion Toss and Margie McDonald (2004; 122 pages, $22.50)
Reviewed by Carolyn Corbett, Brainerd, Minn.

“It is the intent of this book,” the authors write, “to demystify and standardize braided rope splicing …We have done our best to avoid illustration shortcuts, so that every step is as clear as it can be; and the supporting text is meant to provide detail and advice where problems are typically encountered, yet stay out of the way when the illustrations can carry the load.”

Splicing is still a skill, they remind the reader, and mastery of this art requires patience, focus, and practice.

Brion Toss is not a newcomer to rigging. He’s written Knots for Boaters (Chapman Nautical Guide), The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice, and a selection of articles for sailing magazines, as well as producing The Master Rigger Video Series. This particular field guide on basic braided splices is one of a series of seven books in the Working Rope series he utilizes in his Brion Toss Yacht Riggers Apprenticeship program.

In this manual, as in the workshops he teaches, Brion combines the traditional art of the sailor with modern tools and technology available today. The spiral-bound handbook is user-friendly, offering a hands-off guide for hands-on tasks. Brion and co-author Margie McDonald provide a comprehensive list of splicing terms, recommend the use of a tool they manufacture called the “splicing wand,” and supply a measurement table indicating multiples of rope diameter.

The value of this manual unquestionably lies in the inclusion of tips, techniques, and shortcuts from professional riggers, along with information on the characteristics of each particular type of rope: durability, flexibility, elasticity, strength, ease of handling. An abundance of clear illustrations are large enough to refer to easily as one works. In the written text accompanying each set of sketches there are step-by-step instructions for splicing conventional ropes, like Dacron and nylon, as well as the new high-modulus lines like Spectra and Vectran.

This book, along with information on the other books in the Working Rope series, is available at http://www.briontoss.com. Hey, they’ll even autograph the book for you!

Back To Top


Chasing Dreamtime: A Sea-going Hitchhiker’s Journey through Memory and Myth

by Neva Sullaway (Brookview Press, 2004; 336 pages; $15.95)
Reviewed by Joe Ditler, Coronado, Calif.

Driven. Haven’t you experienced the feeling? At some time in our lives, we’ve all been driven to exceed, to aspire, to love, or even to forget. Neva Sullaway sits today in her quaint cottage not far from the beach in San Diego. She has no boat now, but she has added a loving husband and two terrific children to her life. She is, as the neighbors say, “. . . a sweet, quiet young woman who fits in so well.”

Once, however, Neva was driven — driven to discover, driven to run. The part of Neva the neighbors don’t know is that she was also driven to escape. She has just released a new book about her travels across the Pacific, Chasing Dreamtime: A Sea-going Hitchhiker’s Journey Through Memory and Myth

Neva lived the stories of Chasing Dreamtime well before her 25th birthday. Now, after 30 years, she lays out her wild adventures and personal journey for all to read. The introductory chapters create the backdrop for the story: an innocent voyage across the South Pacific. It’s the post-Vietnam era of the mid-’70s; a time well before cruising became the popular lifestyle it is today; a time before GPS and on-board electronics; a time when sea gypsies roamed the oceans.

Having failed in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around the world, Neva arrives in Tahiti, where she is soon placed in jail for a visa violation. From there, she embarks on another sea-going journey that takes her from one life-threatening adventure to another.

From sailing with island royalty, to meeting the legendary recluse and beachcomber, Tom Neale, who lived alone on Suvarov Atoll for nearly 20 years, Neva takes us back to the raw adventure and pristine beauty of the South Pacific. Even after being entangled in a drug-smuggling scheme and facing death several times while at sea, she continues her journey from New Zealand to Australia.

The story reaches a climax when Neva mistakenly gets a job on a prawn trawler in the far northern waters of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, the stark and forbidding Never-Never.

She is held captive at sea, unable to leave the boat, and must rely on her own wits to escape. It is there, on a desolate island in the remotest region of northern Australia that Neva reclaims her freedom and finds redemption in the Dreamtime journey.

Neva Sullaway is the former Australian Women’s Sailboarding Champion, a title she successfully defended for four consecutive years. She built a career as a writer and photojournalist, covering sailboarding events in Australia, Europe and the U.S. She wrote One with the Wind: A Guide to Sailboarding in Australia. During this time she also created a magazine for sailors, Freesail Australia, which became Australia’s top-selling sailboarding magazine.

Neva also wrote Sailing in San Diego: A Pictorial History for the 1992/1995 America’s Cup. She continues to write, edit and shoot pictures with a maritime theme.

Back To Top


GPSNavX navigation software for the Macintosh

www.gpsnavx.com ($49.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

If your computer (assuming you have one) is a Macintosh, you know how isolated we feel as magazine publishers using the last remaining Macs on the planet. Or so it seems. No software. No support groups. No viruses. (Wait! Maybe it’s not all that bad!)

When we decided to be Mac-based on our boat as well as in the office, we discovered that there aren’t too many Mac-friendly navigation programs to choose from. Then when we decided to change our cruising ground from Lake Superior to Lake Huron’s North Channel next summer, we realized that there were no charts available for our current navigation program. Time for an upgrade.

This sort of thing is a heartbreak usually. We hate learning to use new software. But Jerry found a program called GPS-NavX, which would run the new charts we’d have to buy for the new cruising ground. We tried the new program in October during our last two sailing weekends of the season.

Wow! Over the years we’ve used three navigation programs aboard Mystic. This is the best yet. The first system was an early version of Maptech running on a shipboard PC. (It was not easy to learn to operate, but once we had it figured out, we bonded. An unfortunate lightning bolt a few seasons ago took out the outdated PC, and nothing else would run the Maptech program.) Then we went Mac-based to a program called NavimaQ. (We never bonded. This system was cranky and clunky and crash-prone. It was difficult to learn to use.) So we were not looking forward to yet another version of so-so Mac software.

GPSNavX eliminated all fears. It’s intuitive, uncomplicated, sophisticated, excellent. We had to upgrade the operating system on our laptop to accommodate the new software. GPS-NavX works with OS X 10.3, Apple’s latest version of system 10. And we hate changing operating systems almost as much as we hate learning new software. But this time it was worth it. Soon after installation anyone who can operate a mouse and feels at home with a Macintosh can create waypoints, make a route, and leave a track showing where the boat has been. The operating instructions are short and easy to follow.

The software communicates well with a variety of GPS units and will even allow users who own Garmin and Magellan units (ours is a Raytheon unfortunately) to transfer routes to the GPS unit, avoiding the fussy stuff which happens when you try to type without a keyboard and do 250 functions with six to 10 buttons. If you’ve ever done this on a GPS, you know what I’m talking about.

I bonded with the GPSNavX software from the moment we had it connected to the GPS and was extremely enthusiastic by the time we’d arrived at the first waypoint. I can ‘t say enough good things about it except to add that the price is right — $50 — and the technical support has been prompt and helpful. We’re sold. I look forward to next spring and getting around in our new cruising ground with new software and charts with anticipation instead of dread.

Book Reviews From 2003

Reviews From 2003

February 2003 Newsletter

April 2003 Newsletter

June 2003 Newsletter

August 2003 Newsletter

October 2003 Newsletter

December 2003 Newsletter


Great Adventure Stories: Against the Sea / The Greatest Stories Ever Told

edited by Louisa Rudeen (Hearst Books, 2001; 250 pages; $12.95) / edited by Christopher Caswell (The Lyons Press, 2002; 286 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by George Zimmerman, Olympia, Wash.

Winter is here. For most of us that means our sailboats are under wraps and days on the water are only a pleasant memory. For those of us who would like a brief respite, two recently published books may take us back on the water, if only in our minds. Great Adventure Stories: Against the Sea and The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told are anthologies of boating stories, with each adventure just long enough to complete on the bus commute to work or as a quick read before going to sleep.

Against the Sea, edited by Louisa Rudeen, has 24 power boating and sailing (mostly power) stories, told by authors who experienced “when nature turns from a gentle companion to a wrathful enemy; when the going gets rough and there is no place to hide; when it all comes down to a man and woman against the sea.” Taken from articles previously published in Motor Boating and Sailing magazine, the book chronicles the extremes of boating. The table of contents provides brief summaries of the stories, so you can pick and choose your adventure, be it crossing the Atlantic in a 26-foot skiff, getting pulled overboard while fishing for marlin, or surviving in a raft after your sailboat has been sunk by an enraged whale.

This book acquainted me with the broader world of boating. I found a marked difference in the mentality between the powerboater (conquer the sea) and the sailor (partner with the sea). This provides me with a better understanding of the powered partners who share our waters. In some of the stories, I felt the reason for being “against the sea” was due to poor preparation or a disregard for the awesome and destructive capabilities of the sea. This was disturbing. Other stories demonstrate that in the world of boating . . . stuff happens. As boaters, we need to know our boats, equipment, navigation, and the other aspects of boating that make for safe passages. It’s a quick and adventurous read.

The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told, edited by Chris Caswell, consists of 27 stories (fiction and non-fiction) written by sailors. I felt more at home with this book, as the sailing mentality pervaded the book. I missed the brief summaries in the table of contents that was included in Against the Sea, however each story is introduced with a brief bio of the author and his/her relationship to sailing. The stories cover man’s love affair with sailing and the depths and relationship we sailors have with our boats and the sea. Written by the infamous, famous, and the not-so-famous, the time frame ranges from the days of the tall ships to the modern racing yachts of today. Stories include works from the pens of Tristan Jones, Joshua Slocum, C. S. Forrester, and Sterling Hayden. After reading the book, I was impressed by the collection of stories that Chris Caswell had pulled together. These sailing authors described many feelings I have experienced but was never able to put into words. In his introduction, Chris says he pictures the “readers of this book enjoying it in one of two places. The first is in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire and the second is tucked in a cozy pilot berth aboard a sailboat, with rain pattering on the deck and the smell of coffee on the galley stove.” My experience was that it was enjoyable in both places.

Back To Top


Salty & the Pirates

by Marie Delaney (Midnight Caravan Publishing, 2002; 213 pages; $59.95)
Reviewed by Maeve Espy Feinberg (age 9), New York, N.Y.

As you sail along with Salty and the Pirates, you’ll set out to solve a mystery packed with adventure and friendship. When Salty and his friends discover the old lost treasure of the ancient Zapotecs, they come to understand the real meaning of the legendary “power of light.” While making one of their frequent trips to their “secret cave,” Salty and his friend, Katie, discover adult footprints leading up to the cave and then to the local marina. Has someone been following them? For what reason? Salty and Katie are set on finding out who the ominous footprints belong to. This mysterious sign triggers a major treasure hunt that eventually uncovers the apparently “lost” treasure of the ancient Zapotecs. Along the way the reader will encounter pirates, thieves, skullduggery, and even mermaids!

Salty and the Pirates is not just a book, it is a complete kit with accessories and activities such as: a glossary, songs to sing, pictures to color, logs to fill out, colored pencils with sharpener, and a CD ROM which contains music for singing and playing and also a computer coloring system. All it lacks for the perfect cruise is a personal flotation device!

This book/package is geared for 8- to 12-year-olds. Though I enjoyed the detective/mystery aspect of the story, older readers may find themselves wanting a higher level of suspense and danger. Younger kids who may have trouble reading it to themselves, or who are emerging readers, may still really enjoy the story and some of the activities. A helpful addition might be to include a reading of the story on the CD ROM.

Salty and the Pirates may be just the right thing for passing the time away when you’re stuck in the doldrums. I recommend this enjoyable activity book for lads and lassies shipping aboard with their parents. And, ahoy mates, there’s a Salty II on the horizon.

Back To Top


The Boater’s Handbook

3rd revised edition, by Elbert S. Maloney (Hearst Books, 2002; 304 pages; $19.95)
Reviewedby Carl Smith, Chesapeake, Va.

One of the challenges and pleasures, of sailing good old boats is that you run the boat yourself. A big responsibility, one which requires experience, skill, and knowledge of many things. Much of the knowledge required is of things we use frequently, so it is at our fingertips. But there are many bits of knowledge that are infrequently used, some (we hope) never. Yet this is information we must know about and be able to access quickly should the situation arise. When you are out on your boat and have to make a decision, you often won’t have the option of asking for advice or technical information. Then you consult one of the references or guidebooks you keep aboard. Since space is limited on boats, we need to keep the few books that give us the most information in a format that allows us to make use of it.

The Boater’s Handbook has several good sections that offer sound and clear advice and several useful tables. Unfortunately, some parts are unclear, outdated and, in one or two cases, poor information. The section on emergencies is adequate, as far as it goes. It does not address being towed and does not tell you what to expect in the event of a helicopter rescue. The radio procedures section has some good bits in it but is not presented in a clear form. The section on maintenance has some very useful parts. Full-size drawings of various screw sizes would enable you to stop guessing and save a return trip to the hardware store. Going through the list and noting engine and tank capacities and repair part numbers is a good idea and will occupy you on a nasty winter night.

The book has very few “don’t do this” items in it. Cautions about staying away from tugs and tows and ships in channels should be very clear, but they are not. I don’t know where the table of recommended anchor gear sizes came from, but you won’t see my Tartan 34 anchored on a 3/8-inch rode. A reference to silicone and polysulfide rubber caulking compounds as “new” must be a carryover from the first edition. The flag etiquette section takes up space and has a lot of fluff in it.

Elbert Maloney’s book is a useful collection of information that has some value for novices, but my choice for on board reference is still the venerable, but regularly updated, Chapman’s.

Back To Top


Storm Tactics Video

by Lin and Larry Pardey (L&L Pardey Books and Videos, 2002; 84 minutes, $29.95 video or DVD)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Lin and Larry Pardey will be the first (and certainly the most credible) sailors to tell you that you won’t encounter many storms at sea. They want to encourage cruisers to go now, not to continue to put it off until they can afford the ultimate cruising machine and gee-whiz safety equipment. They worry about the hyper-emphasis placed on gear by overly zealous folks marketing marine products of all sorts. And yet, as they tell us in their newest video, when you’re out there, storms will happen about three percent of the time, and really big ones will happen about one percent of the time.

I’m a coastal cruiser, so the Pardeys’ idea of “really big” and their boat’s capabilities will vary from my opinion of “really big” and my boat’s capabilities. For Lin and Larry, “really big” is when you have to heave to for the safety of the boat and the crew, although they remind you that heaving to is also very useful in milder conditions. Since it’s simple to do, heaving to needn’t be reserved for really awesome storms.

In this new video, Lin and Larry discuss heaving to and describe the process visually, something they always felt was missing from their previously published Storm Tactics Handbook. Much of the footage used in the video was made during the Pardeys’ recent rounding of Cape Horn and in South Africa showing sailboats involved in an extremely windy race.

I have often noted that each proponent of a storm tactic will tell you what works for him and his boat and will neglect to mention that different boats behave differently. So I was pleased to see that Lin and Larry have been sensitive to this issue in their video; they discuss heaving to with different keel configurations and sailplans. They also focus on the use and deployment of parachute-style storm anchors.

Most important, they don’t try to bully or scare you into buying their video or some piece of safety gear. In between the discussions and the visuals, they run footage of beautiful places and beautiful boats sailing . . . as a reminder, no doubt, about why you want to be out there cruising in the first place.

Lin and Larry want to spread the word about the simple practice of heaving to, which they refer to as the “sailors’safety valve.” They don’t think enough sailors know about or have experience heaving to with their boats. In fact, Lin writes, “Eight years ago Bob Rimmers (along with his wife and child), on a boat named Quartermaster, got caught out in the Queen’s Birthday Storm north of New Zealand. We were sent a copy of the tape from Keri Keri radio which contained Bob’s last words. After suffering several knockdowns, during which his wife was badly injured and water began filling the boat through damaged cabin windows, Bob Rimmers asks, ‘What can I do?’ The radio operator says, ‘You can continue running, or you can heave to.’ Bob Rimmers did not know how to get his boat to lie hove to and said, ‘I guess I’ll just have to keep running.’ Those were his last words. Since hearing those words, we have had a mission: to make this program.”

I believe that those words indeed motivated the development of this video, and I applaud the Pardeys for choosing to illustrate their Storm Tactics Handbook so capably. I’ll stop short of saying that you can’t go to sea without seeing it. That sounds too much like the sort of safety gear hyper-promotion that the Pardeys are wishing all manufacturers would cease.

Back To Top


A Prairie Chicken Goes to Sea

by Margo Wood (Charlie’s Charts, 2002; 180 pages; $16.00)
Reviewed by Fred Jones, Elephant Butte, New Mexico

After reading Margo Wood’s autobiography I feel she is someone I would like to meet. Her story, starting with the day she was born, is simply fun reading. I could put it down anytime and enjoy mulling over her experiences; but when I wanted to sit down and relax, I needed to read a couple more chapters. Perhaps when you are securely anchored in your favorite cove, reading the book would make your day even better.

Her writing style is not stilted or academic, just eighth-grade English with the nautical words defined in the back for those who aren’t sailors. She isn’t trying to impress anyone, and I enjoyed the depth of feeling I could read between the lines. Except for the death of Charles and her parents’ ostracism, I could relate to all of her experiences, and I think you will admire her, too, for the decisions she made and the advice she asked for. As I read along, I kept wondering when she would tell about her business, Charlie’s Charts. It isn’t until the last third of the book that Charlie started making his charts, beginning with charts of the northwest passage. My wife insisted that we buy his northwest chart, when we headed north from Bellingham, even though I told her that Northwest Boat Travel and Waggoners were plenty. Then much to my surprise, we used Charlie’s charts just as much as the others.

Seems like when your wife gets to know a little about sailing she sometimes becomes critical of certain things you do; something Margo admitted doing. She tells how Charles broke her of the habit when he told her, “On any boat there can be only one captain. If you want to be captain, go ahead and make the decisions; otherwise I’ll be captain. When I say something, do it! I’ll take the responsibility for the decision, and if it’s wrong we can talk about it later, but don’t argue about it at the time.” With this statement she become “crew” instead of “wife.”

Another passage gives a clear picture of a storm they experienced: “As it turned out, that one-day gale was just an introduction to what the Pacific Ocean would deal us. Soon after, we found ourselves in a three-day storm that threatened to blow us past our destination of San Francisco. In order to reduce our speed, we rigged a sea anchor and lashed the wheel. The sound of the wind in the rigging changed its pitch from soprano to a scream.”

I really enjoyed reading this book.

Back To Top


The 12-Volt Bible for Boats, Second Edition

by Miner Brotherton, revised by Ed Sherman (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2003; 194 pages; $16.95)
Reviewed by David Publicover, Beaumont, Alberta

I don’t know about you, but ever since we bought an older cruising sailboat I’ve developed a mild addiction to books about 12-volt electricity. There are many books available on the subject, but so far it’s been hard to find one that wasn’t either too complex, too simple, too theoretical, or simply outdated.

The 12-Volt Bible for Boats promises to explain a boat’s electrical system so you can understand how your system works and how to maintain it in good condition. It also promises information about how to recognize when you have an electrical problem, how to troubleshoot to locate it, and what tools and techniques you’ll need to fix common electrical system problems. After reading the book, I’d say that it does a good job in delivering what it promises.

One of the more pleasing aspects of the book is the emphasis on keeping things simple. The explanations of the theory of electricity were clear, concise, and (thankfully) covered quickly. The use of “magic triangles” to determine the watts, volts, amps or ohms of a piece of equipment or circuit was a real treat. I’m amazed at how many times a book throws out half a dozen algebraic formulae and expects the reader to commit them to memory. The “magic triangle” method is very simple to use and remember.

The book emphasizes the relationship between the electric gizmos that we cart onboard and our need to generate the power to run them. While it doesn’t suggest going without electricity, it does point out that poorly planned changes and additions to your system may result in far more effort and expense than the intended convenience is worth.

Author Ed Sherman covers the standard topics of battery selection, maintenance and charging, wiring, motors, lights, and electronics. Some subjects are covered in more detail than others, but all are discussed with a focus on practicality. Unlike many books where unlimited wealth is assumed, The 12-Volt Bible for Boats openly leans toward saving your money. The book advocates the simple and less expensive route whenever possible but not to the detriment of safety. One of the best features of the book is the troubleshooting section and the maintenance tips. It’s like having your local boatyard guru at your shoulder.

No book is perfect. The methods of charging and isolating battery banks could have been more detailed, and some of the diagrams could have been bigger. I found it annoying that the author’s name was misspelled on the back cover. But overall, the book was clearly written and useful. By the time I had finished, I was ready to dig out my multimeter and head to the boat.

Back To Top


Fort Ross: The Ship in the Shadow

by Roger McAfee (Nighthawk Marine Limited, Vancouver, B.C., April 2002; 130 pages, $24.95)
Reviewed by Norman Ralph, Mandeville, La.

In Fort Ross: The Ship in the Shadow, Roger McAfee presents readers with a smorgasbord of nautical reading. The foreword raises the question, “What vessel first circumnavigated the North American continent?” This is not answered until the conclusion of the book. For the history buff, there is a bit of history of the Canadian Arctic and the role of the Hudson Bay Company and its arctic freighters that sailed the ice-choked Northwest Passage to service its far-flung trading posts. For the lover of wooden boats, there is the description of the building of the Fort Ross in 1938. And for the armchair sailor, there is the account of the trip in 1969 by the author and a group of friends to bring the Fort Ross from Nova Scotia on the Canadian east coast through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.

The aforementioned topics each could stand alone as a fascinating subject for a book. However, the author has used the Fort Ross to tie these subjects together into one narrative. At times the reader feels like he is foundering in a sea of interesting, yet unrelated, material. But at no time does one lose interest in the story.

The information given on the construction of the Fort Ross reveals a wooden vessel that was built for the rigorous demands of the arctic north. She was 127 feet long with a beam of 28 feet 5 inches. Her frames were 10-inches x 10-inches on 18-inch centers. This meant that there were only 8 inches separating them, and a sister frame was bolted to each frame further reducing the space between frames. Her keel was 12 inches wide x 36 inches deep, with a 3-inch-thick shoe of oak. She was sheeted inside and out with planking from 3 to 5 inches thick!

The background events covered in the book take place over several hundred years and the account of the trip on the Fort Ross from the east to the west coast of Canada was told from a 30-year perspective. The reader must familiarize himself with the times of the late ’60s to fully appreciate the mindset of those on the cruise. An interesting feature in the narrative of the trip is the personal remembrances of seven of the members of the crew. The passage of time and the fading of details results in some insights that are enjoyable. One wonders what their comments would have been if they had written them at the conclusion of the trip.

This book has a lot to offer the reader who enjoys insights into events of our past as well as accounts of memorable cruises by those who don’t claim to “know it all.” Since few of us consider ourselves to be experts, we can relate with the events in this book.

Back To Top


Mean Low Water

by Eileen Quinn (Eileen Quinn, 2002; 42 minutes; music CD, $14.95)
Reviewed by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Mont.

Anybody remember the ’70s song, “The Mighty Quinn”? The artist was Manfred Mann. Quinn, of course, was an Eskimo, the polar opposite of sailing songwriter Eileen Quinn’s subject matter. Forgive me the free association. And for playing “The Name Game.” (Banana-fanna-fo Quinn.) Segue to the CD spinning in my Sony boombox, left of center on my old leather-topped desk.

Eileen Quinn’s business card and letterhead is subtitled, “music for sailors . . . and normal people.” Cruising sailors might be more accurate, and to this “un-normal” audience her lyrics fly to the heart like a . . . er . . . uncontrolled jibe? Mean Low Water is Eileen’s third CD, preceded by No Significant Features and Degrees of Deviation. As in the previous two, the songs are mostly about the cruising lifestyle and are usually comic, often satirical, though always there is an underlying and deeply felt appreciation for the sea and the world around her.

“Come Back Dinghy” resonates with anyone who has ever looked over the transom to find the dinghy gone. Yikes! Eileen writes, “I know you’re out there somewhere, just beyond my reach, probably drinking margaritas, lying on a beach.” In “What Do You Do All Day?” Eileen answers this unimaginative question (“it’s so hard to resist a gleeful grin, when envy tinges their lily white skin, they’re imagining a booze and sun-induced coma, while hoping that your liver’s shot, and you’ve got melanoma”), by saying she’s really “busting my tail, a slave to a hunk of fiberglass.” Ain’t that the truth. So much for the romance.

But in “Building a Boat,” she sympathizes with the dreamy, angst-ridden man who sees his life slipping away, wishing for something powerful and life-altering. “It’s not that he’s unhappy, with the farm or the wife, it’s just that haunting feeling, that there may be more to life.” He sends away for boat plans and spends the next six years building his dream, only to die with the boat on the hard, “with the tiller in his hand.” The moral here is: Go now!

Most man-woman teams will relate to “If I Killed the Captain,” because, let’s face it, a boat is a mighty small space for two people to spend any length of time. And when one yells at the other for some trivial transgression, like coiling the halyard “the wrong way,” well, “perhaps I’d better kill the captain before he kills me.” There’s a little more edge to these lyrics than the others (“all that it would take is a timely little shove”), enough to give you the creeps, if only because you know that once in awhile someone does indeed push his — or her — partner over the side. After sailing away, listening to the screams, how does one atone? This song gives the impression that Eileen will worry about that later. At the moment, she’s ripped. “I mistook him for the lonely singlehanding sort, but there seems to be an ex-first mate in every single port.”

Occasionally Eileen unleashes a deeper, more soulful and melodic voice that reminds of Cheryl Wheeler. It’s as if this strong and beautiful other voice is half-captive inside her, yearning to get out. Maybe we’d hear it more often were she not so dependent on clever lyrics. (Hey, whatever sells!) Be that as it may, she is a talented songwriter with a sharp wit, a songstress who knows her audience and understands her material, perhaps too well (watch your backside!).

To hear audio samples, visit Eileen’s website at http://www.eileenquinn.com.

Back To Top


Easing Sheets

by L. M. Lawson (Paradise Cay Publications, 2002; 230 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Chris Delling, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Most of the reading that I do about sailing is of a technical nature, but reading about how to get the perfect coat of varnish, racing tactics, or high-latitude cruising can get a little dry. Once in a while I really want a diversion — a good yarn to pass away the cold winter nights. This suspense thriller, which entwines a cruising couple in a murder mystery fit the bill for me. Easing Sheets may be what you’re looking for, too.

The story starts with a couple setting off on their first extended cruise — from the Channel Islands of California, to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. When they happen to cross paths with a suspicious group on a stolen boat, the excitement begins. In fact, they repeatedly cross paths during the trip south. The story culminates in an exciting conclusion in Cabo San Lucas.

Lori Lawson tells a credible, entertaining story, wrapped around the cruising life. Her experience as a sailor is obvious here. Her descriptions of boat handling, sailing, and the cruising community are accurate and are an enhancement to the story, rather than being the reason for the story. This is a contrast to some works that overemphasize the sailing content, at the expense of a good story.

Overall, this is a very entertaining book. It overcomes a somewhat slow start and quickly develops into a book that you will have trouble putting down. It’s a book that will be appealing to anyone who enjoys a good thriller — not just sailors — which in my opinion, is an indication of a well-written book. The fact that it can help snowbound sailors survive the winter is just an added benefit. It’s not a must read, but I would recommend it nonetheless.

Back To Top


How to Read a Nautical Chart: A Complete Guide to the Symbols, Abbreviations, and Data Displayed on Nautical Charts

by Nigel Calder (International Marine, 2003; 237 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Using GPS and a chart plotter for detailed navigation, I have become over-confident. Jerry and I refer to our boat’s system as “Nintendo navigation.” We can go to a small lump protruding from the lake bed of Lake Superior at a depth of 15 feet — one of our favorite anchoring places — and drop our anchor there every time. That lump isn’t much more than 30 or 40 feet in diameter . . . not much longer than our boat. We couldn’t do this without GPS and the depth sounder, even though we know generally where it is.

This unwavering faith in our electronic system is setting me (and other sailors who share my feelings) up for a big comeuppance, according to Nigel Calder. And he’s right. His newest book, How to Read a Nautical Chart: A Complete Guide to the Symbols, Abbreviations, and Data Displayed on Nautical Charts is just what the title says and a whole lot more. It includes an improved version of Chart Number 1. For this reason if for no other, it belongs on your boat. But it’s real value is in the first sections where Nigel tells us that the charts aren’t as accurate as our GPS, that our satellite-based navigation equipment may be operating on different datum than our chart’s datum, and that there are limits to horizontal and vertical accuracy in all charts. Read this thoughtfully before putting the book on your boat’s bookshelf. Nigel’s message in these early sections is clear: Let the electronic mariner beware.

He warns us from becoming complacent and from cutting corners too closely. Nigel is one of the most humble of the current group of sailing authors and experts in that he makes mistakes and admits them freely in his books and magazine articles. The man who researches and tells us about the pitfalls of charts and the limitations of chart surveying methods goes aground and tells us so. Not even Nigel can ignore the Siren’s call of electronic overconfidence. In this book he prints a photo of his boat, Nada, hard aground on a rock ledge off the coast of Maine.

So study this latest Calder book before your next cruise and take it along as a reference on chart symbols and abbreviations. There will be many times in the future after avoiding an inconvenience or a tragedy that you’ll be thankful Nigel wrote this book and brought some very important navigational information to your attention. He has removed my over-confidence and replaced it with caution.

Back To Top


Jack Corbett: Mariner

by A. S. Hatch (Quantuck Lane Press, 2002; 270 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Ken Young, Cape Coral, Fla.

Have you ever wondered what life on a square-rigger was like . . . not as Horatio Hornblower, but as a sickly apprentice seaman crossing the Atlantic on your first voyage? How would you stand up to the cramped quarters and sail changes in all weather? Would you know how to “slush” when ordered?

Jack Corbett: Mariner can open your eyes to the seaman’s life in the mid 1800’s. In 1849, at the age of 20, Alfrederic Smith Hatch, went to sea in the hope of finding a cure for asthma. He met an old Irish seaman who took him under his wing and taught him to be a sailor. Jack Corbett would help this boy survive his first passage to England and back. Hatch, in return, opens Corbett’s eyes to the idea that life ashore is more than spending your wages on “women and drink.”

Hatch and Corbett make just one voyage together. The narrative of this voyage forms the centerpiece of the book. But there is more to the story than one voyage. Hatch leaves the sea and over the next 30 years becomes one of the movers and shakers on Wall Street. In time, he becomes president of the New York Stock Exchange. He has a wife and 11 children. Enter a much older Jack Corbett.

Hatch convinces Corbett to look after his children as he once looked after Hatch. Corbett will be an eccentric part of the family until his death. In his later years, Hatch was a principle figure in establishing havens for old sailors and those who were down on their luck. These early “shelters” were the models for many of the rescue missions that are still with us today. The New York City Rescue Mission was co-founded by Hatch in 1872. This same mission is still operating today and provided much relief to victims of the 9/11 attacks.

This book shows that not every ship was filled with a wretched captain and crew. It made me stop and think about the mentors I have known and the gifts of their knowledge. Who would have thought that the kindness showed by an old sailor to a young man would bloom into the concept of rescue missions that still serve others today?

After being out of print for some time, Jack Corbett: Mariner is back. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the New York City Rescue Mission in the name of A. S. Hatch. At the website, http://www.jackcorbett.com, you will found a ton of links to sites dealing with packet ships, seamen and other subjects touched on in the book.

Back To Top


The Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design

by Meade Gougeon and Ty Knoy (Winchester Press, 1973: 177 pages)
Historical book review by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

How can a boat sail faster than the wind? What is the most efficient hull shape? Why does a tall, skinny Marconi point better than an old gaffer? The aptly titled Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design explains the economic forces and technical improvements that have shaped sailing vessels from the first Egyptian rafts to 19th century clipper ships to iceboats and experimental multihulls.

According to the authors, the most advanced modern designs are the result of the relentless quests to improve windward ability, increase speed, and lower costs of construction and operation. Smaller, quicker vessels have triumphed, making dinosaurs of large ships optimized for tradewind sailing or for hauling multiple decks of cannon. Modern design culminates in light boats capable of outsailing the wind, such as Marconi-rigged iceboats and experimental multihulls.

For example, the most efficient upwind sail, the ubiquitous Marconi, is the result of many inter-related innovations. The power-looms of the 19th century produced tightly woven sails, enabling greater precision of sail shape and eliminating a deficiency of earlier fore-and-aft rigs. Herrreshoff’s invention of sail track created a more efficient seal between the mast and sail and allowed for taller masts through spreaders and struts not possible when sails were rigged with mast hoops. Lessons learned through airplane design were applied to sail shape. Hollow masts — and later aluminum masts — combined with the elimination of extra spars reduced weight aloft. Lighter rigs reduced ballast and streamlined hulls. By the end of the 20th century, for the vast majority of boats, the Marconi improved to the point where its benefits outweighed those of all other rigs.

In looking to the future, the authors use iceboats and experimental multihulls to illustrate their predictions, which now may seem farfetched. After all, most of us still plod around with our single-spreader sloops and consider the vang or spinnaker (which the authors regard as an inefficient compromise) to be our most sophisticated aerodynamic tools. We are not, alas, skimming along on double-Marconi proas or shipping cargo on hydroplaning commercial sailing vessels. However, the discussion of experimental materials and designs does generate provocative concepts, and the reader will learn a great deal about the benefits and limitations of multihulls.

Writing 30 years ago, the authors blame racing rules for inhibiting innovation. Perhaps the true barrier today is the economics of the yachting industry, which forces mass production. The result is a lack of experimentation in new materials and the standardization of designs based on the all-around family cruiser or charter-fleet candidate. Perhaps a combination of easily customizable materials, such as epoxy and plywood or sheathed strip constructions and “mass-customizable” designs based on rapid prototyping and computer-controlled cutting, will shift the economics back to favoring one-off, local and experimental designs.

The Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design, co-authored by one of the Gougeon brothers, is available on the used market for $10 to $30. (If you’re looking for good old books, ask BookMark: Mark@goodoldboat.com.)

Back To Top


Your New Sailboat: Choosing It, Using It

by the Editors of Chapman Piloting (Hearst books, 2002; 192 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Ted Duke, Fairfield, Va.

Did you read the title and decide you were not interested? Already got your boat? Nothing here for you — wrong!This well-written paperback offers good insights into what boat might be right for you and how to avoid many of the possible pitfalls when choosing a sailboat. Not obvious by the title is the wealth of information included for prospective boat buyers after they buy the boat or for those who already own a boat.

This book is about how to find the right boat for you and your budget: new or used, large or small, dingy or trailerable, daysailer or liveaboard. It presents ideas on what kind of boat might fit your needs and discusses things prospective sailboat buyers might overlook in their eagerness to get their own sailboat. If you are already feeling the breeze, remember being there? It covers mundane things like marinas, trailers, joint-ownership, maintenance, insurance, financing, and so on. The book details what to look for when you are actually looking at boats, recommends test sailing, reminds you to check fit and finish and to seek your comfort level in the cockpit and belowdecks. It says you probably need a surveyor and discusses how to choose and locate one.

This book also explains many things new or prospective sailors need to know regarding safety, terminology, and maintaining a sailboat. The authors introduce ideas readers can research before they commit to a particular boat or plan for using it. These are items seasoned sailors know but those new to sailing might learn the hard way. It includes information on safety and ground tackle requirements and several helpful checklists. There is a good glossary and index.

This book will be of value to prospective or new sailors who have many questions about sailboats and using them. Many of the questions asked on sailing e-lists and bulletins by newbies are answered here. In short, there is much more here than just a guide to buying a sailboat. It’s well worth reading. You might even want to add it to you library for reference and to loan to guests who will sail with you to add some basics to their knowledge.

Back To Top


Lines: A Half Century of Yacht Designs by Sparkman & Stephens, 1930-1980

by Olin Stephens II, (David R. Godine Publishers, 2002; 228 pages; $125.00 hardcover, $250.00 limited signed edition)
Reviewed by George Colligan, Turin, N.Y.

For those of us who sail yachts designed by the firm of Sparkman & Stephens, the publication of Lines by Olin Stephens, the most influential yacht designer of the 20th century, is a momentous event. Anyone who truly loves sailing yachts to would feel privileged to look into the artistry of an individual who has so thoroughly set the standard of sailing design excellence for more than half a century.

In print for the first time are the lines — the actual three-dimensional draftsman’s representation of the hull shapes — of some of the greatest sailing yachts of the 50 years from 1930 to 1980. Included are drawings for Dorade, Stormy Weather, the New York 32, Baruna, Bolero, S&S 34, Running Tide, Intrepid, Yankee Girl, and many others. Each drawing is accompanied by a commentary on the design by Olin Stephens reflecting the significance of the design, its place in the evolution of design thinking, and the performance of the completed vessel. There are some brief insights into things that didn’t go so well but which lead to other developments and improvements.

Communicated as well is something of Olin’s personal sense of love for the boats he created and the team at Sparkman & Stephens which worked so diligently and creatively to bring these magnificent sailing vessels to life. Good Old Boat readers know many designers passed through the doors of Sparkman & Stephens on their way to excellent careers of their own.

Throughout the pages, the reader will find a clarity of vision about what makes a good boat. The narratives are rich in the lessons learned as yacht design moved from a purely intuitive venture to an ever more quantitative undertaking, all the while building on what was proven in the heat of competition and the test of the oceans.

If there is one shortcoming, it’s that it doesn’t have twice as many boats and drawings, but then Olin says these are his favorites; that, in itself, should be instructive enough.

This is a beautifully produced large-page volume. The full plans including the lines of the hull and offsets, the interior layout plan, and the sail plan are included. If you are a particularly ambitious student of yacht design, this is perhaps the only time you’ll get to see the actual design specifics of Freedom, Courageous, or Flyer. If you are a sailor with an appreciation of the aesthetics of sailboats, this volume will give you a unique glimpse into the creative mind of the best of the last century’s designers and artists who, at the age of 94, is still having an influence in the world of yacht design.

Back To Top


Rules of the Road at Sea

(Seaworthy Publications, 2003; CD and book; $59.95.)
Reviewed by S. Merrill Hall, Yarmouth, Maine

The ultimate guide to the collision regulations” — “Memorable learning tool.” This is supposedly everything you need to study and learn the Rules of the Road. The package includes the Rules of the Road at Sea CD, The Skipper’s Pocketbook, A Seaman’s Guide Pocket Book of The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and the U.S. Navigation Rules CD touted to be a “Bonus Worth $25!” I was initially impressed.

The Skipper’s Pocketbook is filled with information on many boating topics similar to many other handbooks of this type. However, it’s printed in the United Kingdom, and some information is not appropriate for operating in U.S. waters and could be confusing to the novice. The Rules of the Road section refers only to the International Rules. In the U.S., where we operate under both the International and the Inland Rules, its value for quick reference to the Rules is diminished.

The Seaman’s Guide Pocket Book isn’t a guide at all but a pocket version of the International Rules without illustrations. Its practical value is minimal.

My expectations were high for both CDs. A well-done CD can be a powerful self-teaching tool. I fired up the “Bonus” U.S. Nav. Rules CD. The “U.S. Navigation Rules and the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway Rules” headings bring up copies of the Rules identical to USCG books currently in print. There is no attempt to be instructive. You’re on your own to read and study the text. In my opinion, this would be more conveniently done using a book. The “Apply the Rules” heading opens up seven sections where each contains a Q&A series to test your knowledge. Roughly 50 questions in Sections 1 through 3 on the International and Inland Rules could be helpful to learning. Those in Sections 4 through 7 have absolutely nothing to do with the Rules. They seem to have been taken from a professional mariner’s exam with questions regarding commercial vessel operations. Perhaps the publisher ran out of Rules questions and had to quickly do something to “bulk up” the content. This CD is, for the most part, not much of a bonus at all.

Ever hopeful, I loaded the Rules of the Road at Sea CD. The table of contents lists seven chapters of which five have instructional material. These cover the International Rules with explanations and questions and help-links regarding their application. The graphics are sometimes animated and include sounds and lights. This works quite well. However, several of the examples are somewhat whimsical and not reflective of common circumstances. The CD can be of learning assistance for the International Rules but, without inclusion of the Inland Rules, it is incomplete and therefore unacceptable for learning the rules that apply to U.S. waters.

In my opinion, the Rules of the Road at Sea package is over-priced for something of such limited practical value. The USCG Navigation Rules International — Inland can be bought for less than $15, and there are better self-teaching courses available at a fraction of the cost. That would be the way to go.

Back To Top


The Cruise of the Blue Dolphin: A Family’s Adventure at Sea

by Nina Chandler Murray (The Lyons Press, 2002; 306 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Beth Rosenberger, Minneapolis, Minn.

I am glad then, as gales blow and jar the house, and horizontal snows fly by, that my father with his typical creative, extravagant imagination, took his children out to sea to learn how to live.” This sentence ends a wonderful book full of adventure and stories that would interest sailors and non-sailors alike. As a sailor, I could put myself in Nina’s place as she and her family set sail from New England to the Galapagos Islands and back. What a wonderful book to escape a cold Minnesota winter day or to read while you swing from a anchor.

It was 1933, the middle of the Great Depression, when Nina’s dad, who was unemployed, decided to take his family sailing. This family included his wife, four of his children, his mother-in-law, and six crew members who would help sail the boat he chartered. His teaching skills would be enriched by his artistic wife and his mother-in-law who loved literature.

The trip began on a dangerous note as they encountered one of 21 hurricanes that hit the East Coast that year. They made it through 60-mph winds — all this without radar, GPS, or other modern electronic equipment. What sailor today would head out to sea without a basic radio? But they counted on a reliable crew and a sturdy boat. Their adventure starts with a storm, but along the way, many adventures await them. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to have a school of dolphins follow their boat or ride on a 400 pound, 200-year-old turtle in the Galapagos Islands? Friendly islanders in the Caribbean great the crew warmly; the children are anxious to meet these strange new children.

I invite you to come along with the Chandler family as Nina tells the amazing journey that changed her life and that of her silbings back in 1933 and 1934. As she states in her book . . . “the comprehensive sea-going curriculum awoke a curiosity in these children that never left the young mariners.”

Back To Top


In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon

by Joan Druett (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003; 277 pages; 24.95)
Reviewed by Niki Taylor, Ayden, N.C.

Natives murdered Captain Howes Norris on the whaleship Sharon, and people assumed that the reason was because of their savage ways. Author Joan Druett searched for the real story behind the murder in her book, In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon. On May 25, 1841, the Sharon sailed out from Massachusetts to the whaling grounds of the northwestern Pacific. In the book, the author described their whaling adventures, the captain’s treatment of his crew, and his murder and its aftermath.

This was a fascinating read. Joan Druett not only wrote about this piece of maritime history, she turned it into a good adventure/murder mystery yarn. She also juxtaposed this story with fellow sailor Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick. Here was how she ended the introduction and segued into the story:

“When the events took place, Herman Melville was in the Pacific and undoubtedly heard about the murder and the heroic recapture, as gossip ran round the fleet fast. He also would have read the official version in the papers. He was home in New York when the story hit the headlines again after the Sharon arrived back in February, 1845. He heard more details from his old Acushnet shipmate Toby Greene, who in 1843, less than a year after the sensational events, had socialized with the Sharon sailors during several lengthy midsea visits. It is probably no coincidence that Captain Ahab found disaster in the same empty tropic seas where Captain Norris was killed. So what really lay behind the story of the Sharon?”

Joan extensively researched this story as evidenced by the chapter notes at the end of the book. She also included the Sharon‘s crew list and resources she used to research the book. Her well-documented research showed in her writing and added support to the credibility of the story. To further the Melville-Sharon connection, she provided a chronology of Melville’s adventures and publications. Melville fans will especially appreciate the Melville-Sharon connection, but the Sharon story stands on its own.

What readers will appreciate about the book is that it gives you the feeling of being there. You can almost smell the air and feel the water splashing against your face. Readers will feel like crew members themselves as they read about exchanging goods with natives and turning whale fat into oil. That, plus the murder mystery itself, makes for a fine read. Those who enjoy maritime history, whaling, and Melville should embark on the Sharon book voyage for a thrilling ride.

Back To Top


Sparkman & Stephens: Classic Modern Yachts

with Franco Pace photographs and text by John Lammerts van Bueren. Foreword by Olin Stephens II. (WoodenBoat Books, 2002; $59.95; 160 pages.)
Review by George Colligan, Turin, N.Y.

I had anchored for the night at Chesapeake City after a long solo-sail up the Delaware from Cape May. The next morning, I raised the anchor and swung Temujin, my Tartan 34C, back out into the C&D Canal for the remainder of the trip from Lake Ontario to Baltimore. I was pleasantly surprised to behold the sailing yacht, Bolero, tied to the pier at Schaefer’s Canal House, her 73-foot black hull and varnished trim sparkling in the morning sun. I stuck my coffee mug into the pedestal cup holder and swung the wheel to starboard instead of port to get a longer look as this classic beauty. The sight of this newly restored “grande dame” of sail was captivating.

I felt nearly the same way when I opened Franco Pace’s photographic tribute to the designs from the board of Olin Stephens II and the firm of Sparkman & Stephens. The first impression on opening the pages is one of astonishment at the aesthetic power and beauty of the sailing yachts presented in these pages.

The pictures of each of the S&S creations, which include Dorade, Stormy Weather, Finesterre, Ice Fire, and Kialoa, are accompanied by an informed, insightful and caring narrative by John Lammerts van Bueren, an accomplished sailor and yachting historian.

The narratives provide a history of each boat from its original owners through the years to the present owners and the current whereabouts of the boat. It’s good to know that Dorade is in excellent hands and still sailing with grace and speed. My favorite part of the narrative is the story, seemingly right out of The Great Gatsby, about Philip Le Boutillier in 1934, who heard a song by Harold Arlen being sung at The Manor on Long Island and told the young singer that she had just named his new boat which was about to come down the ways at the Nevins Yard on City Island. The song, Stormy Weather; the singer, Lena Horne.

Included in the volume is a pictorial and narrative description of the restoration process undertaken under the watchful eye of Federico Nardi of Cantiere Navales del’Argentario in Italy which brought Stormy Weather back to glittering life. Franco Pace’s photos of Stormy Weather charging through the shimmering Mediterranean are worth the price of the book.

What is even more astonishing about this book is the realization that these are not pictures of old boats that are rotting away after years and years of use and neglect. On the contrary, these are action photos of magnificent sailing yachts, which have been lovingly restored to original condition by dedicated owners and skilled craftsmen. Most of the yachts in this volume must be considered, from an aesthetic perspective, American national treasures. However their restoration seems to be occurring more in Europe than in the U.S.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the volume opens with a remarkable forward concerning the design process by Olin Stephens. His discussion of the intricacies of yacht design is revealing and informative; but what makes it even more compelling is that it is accompanied by photos of a very young bespectacled Olin standing on the decks of boats such as Ranger and Dorade, his first offshore design, which won the transatlantic Race when Olin was just a lad of 23.

Franco Pace, whose yachting photographs are world renowned, has produced two other volumes focusing on the work of William Fife and Charles Nicholson. I guess I’ll just have to get those also for my collection.

Back To Top


The World’s Best Sailboats — Volume II

by Ferenc Máté (Albatross/W.W. Norton, 2003; 299 pages; $65).
Review by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Mont.

There’s no doubt about it: like sex, hyperbole sells. Magazines and books push it ’round the calendar: The best doctors in Dallas. The best chai in Berkeley. The best beaches in Rhode Island. Best mutual funds, best vacations, best of the best. Why waste your time groveling with second-raters when you can have The Best?!

The World’s Best Sailboats — Volume II follows Volume I of the same title, one of the most successful nautical coffee table books of all time. More than 100,000 copies are in print. Featuring 19 builders and hundreds of professional color images, it was also, from an author’s point of view, a rare financial success. Before writing it, Máté approached each company and sold them a place in the book. Besides this coverage for a flat fee, each company also received a certain number of bound overprints it could later use for sales and publicity. And Máté got the seed money needed to travel around and research the book. Royalties came on top of that. Clever, eh?

Such marketing does little to compromise a dream book, because you don’t expect to — and won’t — find critique in these pages. The 18 companies in Volume II (there are several that appear in both) include Alden, Cabo Rico, Hallberg-Rassy, Hinckley, Island Packet, Nautor, Shannon, and Sweden Yachts, and they are quality builders. There’s precious little to quibble with regarding their construction practices – though they do vary.

Beyond the 535 photos, which are rich, the appeal of this book, of any Máté book, is his engaging style. Easygoing, thought-provoking, and always with just enough surprises to keep you reading on. His study of each company begins with the principals. Like Alden’s Dave MacFarlane, whose demand for style and order (or is it nervous energy?) compels him over lunch to rearrange Máté’s utensils while they talk.

Each chapter then ranges through the company’s design philosophy, construction methods (such as an explanation of how Island Packet makes its own deck core material out of microballoons, and how two men laboriously install genoa track at Sweden Yachts), and a look at the model line-up. One can learn a great deal about how good new boats are put together. They, after all, are tomorrow’s good old boats.

Both volumes of The World’s Best Sailboats are a pleasure to look at, entertaining to read and, well, just plain nice to heft in your hands.

Back To Top


The Cruising KISS (Keep It Simple System) Cookbook II

by Corinne C. Kanter (SAILco Press, 2003; 480 pages; $24.95).
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Having Corinne Kanter’s latest cookbook, The Cruising KISS Cookbook II, aboard is like having a pocket expert you can take on your cruise. It’s a substitute for the cooking class you never took and those books you never read. Corinne has done the work for you and condensed it down to what you need to know to manage a tiny galley that may go many miles from home, perhaps around the world. It’s full of cooking tidbits most of us never knew and reference information you can look up when you’ve got questions. It might be more fun to take Corinne along. But if that doesn’t work out, her book is a dandy substitute!

What’s so helpful? Information about foods you may not see in your local grocery store once you’re out in the vast community of cruisers: new and uncommon grains, international sauces, uncommon fruits and vegetables, and much more. She includes cooking terms you may have wondered about, tables such as Fahrenheit and centigrade oven temperature conversions, metric conversions, ingredient conversions from teaspoons to ounces to grams so you can accept a recipe from that nice French couple and actually use it for cooking, volume capacities (in cups) of bread and baking pans and pie plates, and oodles of information of this nature.

She discusses storage issues and provides sources of canned cheeses, meats, and dried eggs. She offers helpful hints for long-term cruising. She discusses conserving cooking fuel, cooking with a pressure cooker, a smokeless stovetop gill, a hand-operated food beater/chopper, making your own mayonnaise from scratch, yogurt, sprouts, sourdough starters, cooking stocks, variations to make hamburgers interesting. Ditto for chicken. On and on it goes. Are you dizzy yet?

Corinne adds information about helpful ingredient substitutions for when you’ve got almost everything you need . . . but not quite, and the store is hours, maybe days, from your cozy anchorage. A very helpful chart of cheeses. Troubleshooting tips for baking cake and bread (Coarse texture? Too little kneading.). A list of spices and their uses. Sauces for vegetables. Hints for cooking fish. Eating light. Microwave tips and a chart of vegetable microwave cooking times.

What’s more? Along with the information she found space for 645 recipes. The book even includes the best (32 pages) of her previous book, The Galley K.I.S.S. Book published in 1987.

Don’t expect to find all the helpful information, charts, and tables in one convenient place, however. The information is where you need it: bread tips with the bread recipes, for example. That arrangement requires you to get familiar with this book in advance so you know what’s available for future reference. I have 16 Post-it Notes stuck in my copy to help me find the information I need the next time.

Excuse the breathless delivery of this ramble. Corinne’s book belongs on the boat and in the kitchen at home (unless you live aboard, of course). It’s a marvelous resource and reference. I don’t tend to gush much, but this is a “first-rate gushable cookbook.” It’s the thing to give as a bon voyage or boat-warming gift. Your recipients will thank you for it. Maybe they’ll be inspired to cook something and invite you over.

Back To Top


Taking on the World

by Ellen MacArthur (International Marine, 2003; 353 pages; $24.95.)
Review by Butch Evans, Knoxville, Tenn.

“Life holds a lot of treasure.” This advice, given to Ellen MacArthur by her much-loved Nan characterizes Ellen’s driving spirit. From the time she was a young girl of 10, drawing pictures of sailboats in her school books and saving lunch money toward her first boat, Ellen knew sailing was her treasure, and she was determined to go after it. This is a book about grit and determination as much as it is about sailing. While reading it, I couldn’t help but admire Ellen’s tremendous spunk and drive.

From the prologue, an emotional account of crossing the Vendee Globe finish line in second place after an exhausting around-the-world race, which included a last-minute collision with a floating object, to the chapters that contain some of Ellen’s email logs during the race, this book grabbed my attention.

Descriptions of harrowing trips up 90 feet of slender mast for repairs while the boat races along under sail ring with tension and danger. Email transcripts from the trip spotlight Ellen’s extreme fatigue and her motivations for continuing as she tears across the empty southern ocean. The book has a lot of vivid and realistic descriptions that make you feel as if you’re there with her. It’s nearly as action-filled as a modern techno-thriller.

A very significant part of the book is the story of Ellen’s indomitable will. Unlike many other young people distracted by the temptations of youth, she decided early on to go after her treasure with all the tenacity she could muster . . . which turns out to be quite a bit. These personal qualities not only make a good racing story much more interesting, they are also the qualities that made it possible for her to survive one of the most brutal endurance races in the world. The Vendee Globe reminded me of the Iditarod sled dog race in its demand for physical stamina and willpower.

While this is Ellen’s first book, I thought she did a good job describing not only the mind-numbing difficulties associated with singlehanded racing around the world but also the personal reasons that drove her to sail for a living. Ellen is a gal with fortitude. In order to enter and become competitive in the exotic world of offshore racing she had to give her all. Her success is proof she’s done just that. This book gives the reader a first-rate view into her personal quest to succeed in life and the eccentric world of singlehanded racing.

Most of the book chronicles the Vendee Globe race, and I found myself wishing she’d written more about some of the other races she’s been involved with. The book also has a nice photo section, which adds to the quality of the book.
As a cruiser, not a racer, I’m not usually drawn to this type of book. However, the glimpse into Ellen’s driving personality made it interesting and enjoyable.

Back To Top


How to Install Fixed Windows

CD-ROM for Windows ’95, ’98, 2000, and NT, by Capt’n Pauley Videos <http://www.captnpauley.bigstep.com>. $12.95.
Review by Brian Gilbert, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Ah, the new media! Thanks to the Internet, low-cost computers, and inexpensive CD duplication costs, just about anyone with a good idea can get information to the public, no matter how small the audience. And that’s what Pat and Paul Esterle have done with this CD. They’ve produced a good-looking professional package on a very specific subject . . . installing fixed windows (or deadlights) in an older sailboat or powerboat. This is quite an accomplishment and a testament to their hard work and dedication.

When inserted, the CD immediately launches a PowerPoint slideshow. We’re presented with a series of text and photo slides that document the process of replacing the windows on the Esterles’ Columbia 35. With background music, no less. Navigating the disc is easy, and the photos are good, clear images. Since I use a Macintosh, I had to borrow a friend’s computer to view the CD. This isn’t a criticism, as I’m probably one of three people in the country who use a Mac and have an interest in sailboat restoration. Still, it would be possible to add a second folder to the disc containing JPEGs of each frame, allowing Mac users access to the information on the disc (sans dissolves and background music, of course).

Paul’s technique for installing these windows is correct, for example sealing the core edges with thickened epoxy when the old deadlight frames are removed. Another neat idea was the use of T-nuts embedded into the hull and covered with epoxy. This allows you to bolt the deadlights directly to the hull, without having nuts show on the inside of the cabin. There’s the additional advantage of one-person installation. But there’s no mention of whether these are stainless T-nuts or galvanized . . . the only T-nuts I’ve ever seen are galvanized. So there’s a question of eventual rust stains or galvanic reaction between stainless bolts and mild steel T-nuts, but since the whole thing is bedded in compound, problems like that should be a long time coming, if at all.

Another cool trick is the idea of filling empty caulk tubes with thickened epoxy, though I didn’t catch how you would get the tubes . . . perhaps you can buy empty ones from a paint supplier. In addition, there’s a photo series at the end of the disc that documents the entire replacement project, from start to finish. I felt this was one of the disc’s most useful features.

While I found this CD to be interesting, well-produced, and professional, I wouldn’t say it’s required viewing for everyone with a sailboat to restore. The subject matter — replacing deadlights — is awfully narrow. One wonders whether it’s worth devoting an entire CD to it. I had the feeling that one could get the same information from a good magazine article. I’d like to see more content delivered: more details, more supplier information, etc. There is very little text in this CD, so it’s like watching a slide show with no narrator. (In fact, that’s exactly what happened. This CD began life as a presentation given at a sailing seminar.)

If you’ve got windows to replace, and have read all you can find in books and magazines and are still unsure of yourself, then this might be helpful. Most boat restorers I know, with above-average problem-solving abilities and skill sets, wouldn’t list this CD as one of their all-time favorite, most useful resources. It’s just another tool.

Back To Top


Windsong: Our Ten Years in the Yacht Delivery Business

by Patrick and June Ellam (International Marine Publishing, 1975: 222 pages; out of print.)
Historical book review by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

In the 1950s, just before the widespread production of fiberglass boats triggered the developments that have made boating accessible to anyone, Patrick and June Ellam delivered yachts along the Atlantic seaboard. In their book, Windsong, the Ellams chronicle the last years of coastal cruising as a truly adventurous, if not dangerous, undertaking. Read this book not only to appreciate the tremendous advances made in seafaring technology but also to mourn the loss of the very recent past when boating required skills and patience now unnecessary.

Today’s coastal cruiser typically sails in a boat not prone to mysterious and unpredictable leaks. The vessel is rarely out of sight of a marina, and its courses are clearly marked. More importantly, it is armed with a GPS that instantly solves eternity’s toughest navigational challenges. Aided by systems and materials that help it overcome the forces of nature, small shorthanded craft routinely round Point Conception, voyage to the Bahamas, or sail Downeast through the fog.

Reading Windsong, we appreciate that prior to modern advances, the weekend sailor would not have undertaken such voyages. The Ellams’ expertise was in their degree of preparation before a cruise, conducting a structural survey of their craft, assessing probable errors in navigation, selecting crew, and religiously maintaining a dead reckoning. These skills, while prudent, may seem quaint to today’s boater. Patrick Ellam’s level of skill was so distinct — he was the only man available who knew how to use a sextant — that he was hired on the spot to captain a tugboat from Bermuda to the mainland and down to South America.

In addition to appreciating the traditional skills of boating past, we catch glimpses of coastal life in the 1950s. After numerous passages along the still-sparse inland waterways, June notes when a house has added a new lamp in the window. We see the Ellams scramble out of Cuba when Castro’s forces come down from the hills. And we realize that the specialized skills of the Ellams were, at one time, valuable enough to enable them to run a sizeable business.

For today’s boater, Windsong reminds us that the sense of adventure is proportionate to the degree of self-reliance of the crew in handling the whims of nature and boat. Most encouraging, though, is how easy it is to recapture that adventure. Don’t start the motor. Do the repair yourself. Turn off the GPS. Anchor out instead of tying up. Maybe even get a smaller boat.

Windsong is available on the used book market for $10 to $20

Back To Top


Chart No. 1: USA Nautical Chart Symbols Abbreviations and Terms

(Paradise Cay, 2003; 100 pages; $9.95).
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Paradise Cay has just released Chart No. 1: USA Nautical Chart Symbols Abbreviations and Terms as a replacement for the government version of Chart 1, which was discontinued by NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NIMA (National Imagery and Mapping Agency) after the 1997 publication.

Paradise Cay’s publication is like the previous government versions in every detail: size, color, and content. It tracks the government version page by page. One can scarcely “review” a republished Chart 1, but it is important to bring to the attention of other sailors that a replacement is available. At just $9.95, it’s worth having an updated version aboard.

Back To Top


I Left the Navy

by Eric Hiscock (Edward Arnold, 1945; 176 pages; out of print)
Reviewed by Will Clemens, San Francisco, Calif.

Eric and Susan Hiscock’s cruising books are manuals for aspirations and ideals as much as technical manuals for world cruising. Whether we splice our own wire rope, repair our own sails, or navigate our boat out of its home bay, we read the Hiscocks to dream about “what if?” as much as “how to?” I Left the Navy is a remarkable precursor to their more famous cruising books, not for any sailing lore or skills but as inspiration for those of us landlocked by our everyday lives.

Unlike the Pardeys, who set sail during the postwar golden age of small boat voyaging, the Hiscocks came of age during a much bleaker era. Published during World War II, I Left the Navy tells of Eric’s medical discharge from the Royal Navy, his humbling string of odd jobs in a depressed wartime England, and ultimately his opportunistic return to sea.

Eric finds work in a fiberboard factory and as a farmhand on a friend’s estate. Though their labor is backbreaking, the Hiscocks find happiness in restoring a farmhouse and planting a garden. Eric describes every task precisely, whether it is lubricating a tractor, digging a furrow or harvesting the corn. This manic attention to detail and instinct to understand the purpose and workings of any process will be familiar qualities to any diligent sailor.

Although he and Susan are still years away from their famous voyages, Eric finds find his way back to boats. He is entrusted with editing a monthly yachting magazine and then finds a job shuttling boats around Britain for the Navy on occasional trips away from the farm. Although he works belowdecks as the engineer, he derives rich satisfaction from being on the water and serving his country.

I Left the Navy was not written as a sentimental memoir about a simpler, earlier time. Eric wrote this book in the moment, surely a frustrated young man wondering how his life would turn out. But the Hiscocks’ now-legendary practical skills, attention to detail, and careful planning are evident throughout all their youthful struggles. It is the good fortune of all of us that eventually the Hiscocks found a different life that inspired generations of bluewater and weekend sailors.

Used copies of this short book can be found for $15 to $30.

Back To Top


A-B-Sea: A Loose-footed Lexicon

by Jack Lagan (Sheridan House, 2003; 352 pages; $19.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Jack Lagan has written a delightful nautical dictionary (or sorts) best described in his own words as a ” loose-footed lexicon: a foot-loose, fancy-free and fore-and-aft alphabetic list of all the words known by Jack Lagan about the sea, seafarers, and seafaring.”

Since Jack is British, the U.S. reader must beware of the usual spelling anomalies — such as colour and realise — but this book isn’t meant to be used as a spelling guide anyway. Instead it’s a compendium of interesting and useful nautical information and trivia which Jack felt compelled to include. He offers quotes from classic nautical literature, tables and formulas of interest, and a touch of humor (oops, make that humour).

With this book you learn that one toilet on a British yacht is referred to as the “heads” (and that in his opinion the head or heads is the nadir of plumbing expertise). You learn that jabs are shots (the immunization variety), a kicking strap is a vang, and that crosstrees are spreaders. Armed with that sort of knowledge alone, you might be able to discuss sailing with a British friend without the occasional torch/flashlight or knock-me-up type of disconnect.

Jack also includes the historical background of certain nautical terms and discusses the evolution of their common uses. For example, shanghai is defined as “to forcibly recruit someone to the marine (usually through a combination of drink, drugs, and the odd blow over the head with a belaying pin); a great old Royal Navy tradition taken up by many other nations. Shanghai itself is a fascinating city. In Chinese ‘shang’ is used to signify the start of something and ‘hai’ means ‘sea;’so Shanghai is on the Huangpu River just south of where it joins the estuary of the magnificent Yangzi.”

He also takes on the age-old debate of “ship versus boat” and sums it up with: “Is that clear? All right, it might be difficult to define a ship or a boat, but most sailors certainly know a ship when they see one bearing down on them.”

There is a little ” nautical dictionary” making the rounds that pokes fun at nautical terminology with elaborate (but wrong) definitions. This is not that sort of book. Jack has fun with the terms, but he gives correct explanations. Leeward (pron. ‘loo-w’d’), for example, has this entry: “the side of a sailing boat presently away from the wind; see windward. If you are feeling seasick, make sure you know which side this is.”

Jack Lagan has fun with our favorite pastime. And we, recognizing his good intentions and sense of humor/humour, have fun with his new book.

Back To Top


Cruising at Last: Sailing the East Coast

by Elliot Merrick (The Lyons Press, 2003; 288 pages; $22.95)
Reviewed by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wis.

Why do people sail, climb mountains, or backpack? According to Elliot Merrick, “Perhaps it is that we have gone and must go full circle. From primitive hunger needs, bark shacks, and skin clothes we ‘advance’ to our present civilization . . . Perhaps it is only by losing the primitive sense of oneness with nature that we can value it and learn to win back to perceptiveness again.” In other words, we need to be, or at least feel that we are, more self-reliant. Elliot Merrick certainly was that. Before retiring from the U.S. Forest Service, he spent four years building Sunrise, a 20-foot sailboat he that and his first wife, Kate, and later his second wife, Patricia, cruised up and down the East Coast from Georgia to Maine and back several times.

Over the course of his lifetime, Elliot wrote several novels, short stories, and magazine articles. Cruising at Last: Sailing the East Coast is simply a collection of short works he planned to eventually compile into book form. He died in 1997 before he had the chance. Fortunately for us, his daughter completed this task. The book starts by telling how the author and his wife spent summer vacations camping in a daysailer near Hilton Head, South Carolina, in the 1960s while dreaming of the day when they would own a truly seaworthy boat. Sounds like a lot of us, doesn’t it? Although written over a period of years and over several voyages, the narrative flows like the incoming tide at sunset. It gives the wanna-be sailor that if-he-can-do-it-I-can-do-it attitude and leaves the experienced sailor chomping at the helm to get back out there.

Cruising at Last takes us on an odyssey that’s part cruising guide, part travelogue, and part character study with just enough technical information about Elliot’s boat to scratch that particular itch. If you’ve read and enjoyed things like My Old Man and the Sea or North to the Night, you’ll probably enjoy Cruising at Last. It provides a nice contrast to the life-and-death stories by telling how pleasant being self-reliant in a small boat can be. It’s a book to be read on long, cold, dark winter evenings when our boats are stored for the season and we can’t wait to feel the deck swaying beneath our feet and the cool spray rinsing our faces again. To take a line from the film industry, this could be the “feel-good” book for the off-season.

Back To Top


Naturally Salty: Coastal Characters of the Pacific Northwest

by Marianne Scott (TouchWood Editions, 2003; 214 pages; $14.95)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

Marianne Scott’s personal warmth and natural interest in others shines through her new book, Naturally Salty: Coastal Characters of the Pacific Northwest. In her work as a journalist, she has discovered and profiled a cast of boaters and entrepreneurs who have risen to the top of a sea full of salty characters.

Those she has selected for this book have welcomed her into their homes and told her of their trials and triumphs. In return, Marianne has painted their portraits in colorful words and descriptive phrases, portraying her subjects accurately while using her genuine interest in them to show the best side of each. She is an artist who captures each ray of sunlight as it warms her subject.

In selecting and profiling 30 coastal characters, Marianne has held a mirror up to the rest of us. Each of us has a story to tell; in telling these tales she reminds us of our own significance. Her subjects have been drawn to the sea and to boats. They have ricocheted through life discovering themselves as they went. Their paths — like those of so many boaters, coastal dwellers, and in fact everyone — have had interesting turns and loops.

These are men and women who have done amazing or unusual things. These are individuals who have lived long and vigorously, reminding us of the great value of our last decades. These are gutsy women and inspiring men. These people are us. In this book Marianne has brought out the best in us.

Back To Top


Smith’s Guide to Maritime Museums of North America

by Robert Smith (1st Books, 2002; three volumes; $10.50, $11.50, and $12.50)
Reviewed by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.

I may have to hide Robert Smith’s books from my husband. While I enjoy visiting maritime museums, I’m not sure I enjoy visiting them with Jerry. He doesn’t do anything unless he can be extremely thorough. A museum is not the sort of place to take a guy like that. So what will I do if Jerry learns about a terrific source listing more than 620 maritime museums, lighthouses, and related museums in North America?

Robert Smith’s three-volume set is a treasure. It lists museums by name, by location, and by type or specialty. And it provides a brief description of each. You say you’re interested in whaling museums, for example? There are 19 listed in Volume 1, which includes the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada as far south as Pennsylvania, including all of Ontario and part of the Great Lakes. Volume 2 includes the southern stretches of the Atlantic Coast and states adjoining the Gulf Coast. Volume 3 includes the Pacific Coast and inland through the remainder of the Great Lakes. (Even with 620 sites listed in three volumes, these guides do not yet include them all. Robert’s looking for input from others to tell him of museums he’s missed.)

Just when I thought we should be sure to post all these maritime museums, lighthouses, and canal and lock museums in our comprehensive Good Old Boat directory of all things nautical <http://www.goodoldboat.com>, I realized that would not be necessary. Robert has that covered, too. Check out his website at <http://www.maritimemuseums.net>. We’ll be sure to link it.

My hat’s off to Robert Smith, who has also authored two West Coast cruising guides, by the way. But he seems to be the modest sort. On the back covers of his books, he says, “Credit must go to all those dedicated individuals who have committed time, talent, and financial resources for preservation of the maritime adventure.” He’s so right. Get the books and go thank them yourself. Just don’t take Jerry with you.

Back To Top


Wayward Sailor: In Search of the Real Tristan Jones

by Anthony Dalton (McGraw-Hill/International Marine, 2003; 336 pages $24.95)
Reviewed by Daniel Keller. Newport, R.I.

Anthony Dalton’s book on the mysterious Tristan Jones reads, more times than not, like a detective novel – one in which the author is clearly and logically explaining that Tristan Jones’ claimed great feats as a sailor could not be entirely true. From the start, the author establishes a style of dryness and wit.

Ultimately, however, he provides his readers with a well-written, well thought-out, and very entertaining book.

This book uncovers the true sail courses Tristan followed. Anthony writes in a logical formula that works. First he mentions the facts and accomplishments that Tristan claimed, from his date of birth to total sailing miles recorded. Then he discusses how these claims are not possible and provides good, effective evidence. He often reveals this through the quotes of other sailors and authors. The book’s strength is that it clears the murky waters that surround our sail hero Tristan Jones, a tough task given that so many questions surround Tristan Jones, the sailor and person.

While he reveals, however, that all that Tristan claimed was not true, Anthony Dalton is not out to play policeman against Tristan Jones. He praises Tristan for being an accomplished sailor.

This book is worth a place in your sailing library if you want logical evidence about how and why a great author and accomplished sailor created some adventure tales and claimed amazing accomplishments under sail. As you read it, you will be treated to Anthony Dalton’s subtle, effective wit, a style that will keep you reading and tickle your intellect.

Back To Top


Fair Winds

a music CD by Hoolie (Pirate Weasel Records; 2003; $15.00)
Reviewed by Michael Hewitt, Tucson, Ariz.

I don’t even know what some of Hoolie’s instruments are . . . bodrhan and bazouki, for instance, but any musical group that uses a performer in tap shoes for primary percussion is guaranteed to create a unique sound. Fair Winds is the third recording by the duo group, Hoolie. Now a quartet, Jerry Casault (lead vocals and guitar) and Katherine Morris (vocals and banjo) have teamed with Nick Garreiss (foot percussion) and Jon Potarykus (vocals, fiddle and mandolin). The product of their collaboration is a collection of 14 traditional and not-so-traditional jigs and reels, all with a Celtic flavor and midwest Great Lakes seasoning.

“Load ’em and Stack ’em,” is the story of lead singer Jerry Casault’s summer loading Japanese freighters with 100-pound bags of Michigan navy beans. The liner notes describe the backbreaking and dangerous work and the ultimate payoff for a very fit songwriter who used the money saved to backpack through Europe. “Powder Monkey” is a musical account of the real sea battle between the U.S.S. Constitution and the British ship, Guerriere, in the War of 1812, sung from the point of view of a young powder monkey. Hoolie’s songwriters researched the song in the U.S. Naval Archives.

None of the Fair Winds tunes has the mainstream appeal of a “Sloop John B,” “Southern Cross,” or “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” but if you’re a fan of Celtic sound or favor sea shanties, Hoolie will be one of your favorites. It’s hard not to tap your foot when listening to Fair Winds, but Hoolie is a group that crys out to be experienced live. Unless I had seen them in person, I would be unlikely to play Fair Winds more than a few times. On the other hand, I wouldn’t hesitate to attend a performance and afterward thoroughly enjoy the recording. Hoolie is the perfect group to perform at Mystic Seaport or in concert on the grounds of Old Ironsides’ berth in Boston. Heck, I’d go just to find out what a bodrhan and bazouki are!

Back To Top


Not to be Used for Navigation

a music CD by Eileen Quinn (Silverbirch Productions; 2003; $14.95)
Reviewed by Michael Hewitt, Tucson, Ariz.

Not every songwriter can pull off lyrics about Nigel Calder books, duct tape, and WD-40. Canadian singer-songwriter Eileen Quinn can and does, in her fourth CD, Not to be Used For Navigation. Her lyrics and her sentiments leave no doubt that she is a sailor first and a singer second. From Quinn’s cover photograph taken from the spreaders, through a dozen insightful songs about the frequent joys, too-common frustrations, and the sometime loneliness of cruising, this is a CD that will resonate with any sailor.

“A Sailor’s Daughter” is a poignant song about the deep relationship between an aging father and the daughter he taught to sail. Probably autobiographical, the song will powerfully touch any father-daughter crew. Another favorite is “He Don’t Love Me (Like He Loves His Boat”). Quinn sings about a woman agonizing over her man’s infidelity. He’s gone all weekend, he’s coming home late, and finally at night he calls out her name . . . the name of his boat. Many spouses of good old boaters will commiserate with her inability to “compete with this plastic romance.” It is a funny and very clever song, although perhaps too close to the truth to be enjoyed by everyone.

A solo performer is challenged to keep her songs from sounding too similar, even when the lyrics range from hose burns to going home. Eileen Quinn shines brightest when harmonizing with herself, and so her music begs for a duet. I’d like to suggest a collaboration with Jimmy Buffett. He, and we, would enjoy the humor and irony in her songwriting.

Eileen Quinn’s Ovation guitar and her resonant voice put to music the real experience of cruising. While it was difficult truly appreciating this CD on the desert drive from home in Tucson to the boat in San Diego, when played in the cockpit, Not to be Used For Navigation was the perfect accompaniment to the subtle sounds of a boat at anchor.

Back To Top


Classic Sailing Stories: 15 Incredible Tales of the Sea

Edited by Tom McCarthy, (Globe Pequot, 2003; 336 pages; $9.95)
Reviewed by Freedom Mayjack, Norco, Calif.

Was Shakespeare a sailor? Editor Tom McCarty has put together a collection of 15 classic sailing stories written by such famous authors as Aaron Smith, Joseph Conrad, Erskine Childers, Joshua Slocum, James F. Cooper, Herman Melville, Richard H. Dana, Jerome K. Jerome, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Hakluyt, Robert L. Stevenson, and Owen Chase. These are short stories, ranging in length from six pages by William Shakespeare to 61 pages by Ernest Shackleton, written between 1567 and 1919. I began with the brief introduction to gain an insight into Tom McCarthy’s intention of organizing this mixture of fact and fictional stories. His concept had me excited within a few paragraphs. But I soon realized the significance of the word “classic” in the title.

The first story, written by Shakespeare, was a struggle. After enduring an endless Shakespearean dissection by a humanities professor many years ago, I promised myself I would never read Shakespeare again. Even this short six-page story left me searching for its true meaning. I felt like a teenager plucked out of a large city gang and dropped into a mansion in the Hamptons to learn Chinese!

Much of the first half of this book left me feeling this way. Since many of the stories are centuries old, I spent too much time trying to understand the content or translating it into modern English. The second half was much better. I enjoyed Herman Melville’s stories, ” Rounding Cape Horn” and “The White Whale,” as he shared personal feelings. I was uninspired by Richard H. Dana and Edgar Allan Poe.

With all the possibilities and variety of reading available in the modern world, I like to leave the classics to the teachers and students. I suspect ordinary salts who enjoy day, weekend, or full-time cruising prefer books that capture their attention within the first 20 pages. I, for one, wish to be filled with emotion.

Whether I’m angry, laughing, or crying doesn’t matter as long as I’m captured . . . unless, of course, I’m straddling my boat’s diesel, searching for the dropped half-inch wrench, with a first mate holding the flashlight . . . then I desire an emotionless how-to manual.

Back To Top


Cruising with Your Four-Footed Friends: The Basics of Boat Travel with Your Cat or Dog

by Diane Jessie with forward by Alvah Simon (Seaworthy Publications, Inc., 2003; 148 pages $19.95)
Reviewed by Randy Leasure, Halfmoon Bay, Calif.

If you currently have a dog or cat or are considering getting one as a pet on board, this book is an insightful, well-organized collection of short stories and useful information to help you make the decision. What could be a list of dos and don’ts is a collection of real-life examples of cruisers who are out there living the cruising lifestyle and have incorporated pets into their lives aboard.

Diana Jessie covers all the basics including what are good choices for pet size and breed based on your itinerary and boat type. She also discusses different types of care and upkeep, feeding, and one of the biggest concerns: what to do about the bathroom situation. Also included are good examples of setting up a place for your pet to call its own. This is very important for your pet and can be a simple as an old blanket.

She includes helpful animal regulations information when clearing in and out of other countries and tips on how to get your paperwork in order just as you would with the vessel’s documents. She includes what vaccines are needed for various countries and islands as well as what additional clearance fees are warranted. Just like our choice of boats, everything is a compromise, but the joys of having your pet along can far outweigh any slight inconveniences. Dogs and cats seem to adapt much more easily to the minimalist cruising life than we do. They also have the ability, when we humans fall short, of providing unconditional love. As I read this book, I could relate to the special bond that comes with living on board with your pet. After living aboard for more than 10 years with my cat, Motorboat, I know it would not be the same without my faithful companion.

Lord Byron said it best about our animal friends: “Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices. This praise, which would be unmean flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but just a tribute to the memory of Boatswain, a dog.”

Diana uses examples of traveling with pets on board culling this information from logs and interviews with cruisers. Robin Lee Graham and Tania Aebi both completed teenage circumnavigations with feline companions along. Alvah Simon’s Arctic survival tale, North to the Night, gives credit to his cat, Halifax, who helped him through the long cold dark winter with companionship and even helped alert him when there were polar bears about.

Next time you ask who is on dogwatch or whether there is enough money in the cruising kitty, remember your furry friends. Pick up a copy of this book to help you enhance your cruising adventures.

Back To Top


The Mariner’s Book of Days 2004

by Peter H. Spectre (Sheridan House Inc., 2003; 112 pages; $12.95.)
Reviewed by Eric V. Nelson, Celina, Ohio

Trying to capture the essence of The Mariner’s Book Of Days 2004 in a short review is like trying to capture moonbeams in a bottle. True, it is a unique desk calender, but it is so much more. Call it a desk calendar with an attitude. To those of us who are fascinated by lore and traditions of the sea, it is a treasure trove of information. This is the 13th edition of this calendar. Each has contained a completely new collection of marine fact and legend. The vast amount of nautical lore boggles the mind.

Items in this edition range from the practical (how to wash clothes at sea), to the historical (excerpts from ships’ logs and nautical history of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries). There is also the occasionally bizarre entry (a 1777 recruiting poster for the continental ship, Ranger, captained by John Paul Jones, promises: “Any Gentlemen Volunteers who have a Mind to take an agreable [sic] Voyage in this Pleasant Season of the Year may, by entering on board the above Ship Ranger meet with every civility . . .”). Anyone who has read even one of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower novels knows that life in any 18th century naval vessel was unlikely to be either agreeable or civil.

Peter Spectre’s nautical miscellany is delightfully digestible. Each left-hand page has a selection of marine information and highlighted notes from past nautical adventures — famous, infamous, and obscure. The right-hand pages are weekly day planners. Each day provides a brief note of a significant nautical event that occurred on that date along with plenty of white space for noting appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and so on.

The Mariner’s Book Of Days 2004 could easily be read in a single evening, but this is no way to treat this charming book. Rather, put it on your desk and as each week begins start by reading the left-hand page. The information contained on these pages often warrants several readings during the week. Each date on the right-hand page contains a nugget of nautical knowledge to be digested while considering the day’s appointments and chores. By the end of the year, you will have a new appreciation for nautical tales and lore.

This is a desk planner that will not be in the trash at the end of the year, but rather will earn a permanent place on every owner’s nautical bookshelf. It is a safe bet that readers of The Mariner’s Book Of Days 2004 will find themselves scouring the shelves of used bookstores and the Internet looking for the 12 previous editions of the calendar.

Back To Top


Sailing Around the World: A Family Retraces Joshua Slocum’s Voyage

by Guy Bernardin (Sheridan House Inc., 2002; 235 pages; $24.95)
Reviewed by Craig Anderson, Punta Gorda, Fla.

“Sailing a replica of Spray isn’t as simple as it might seem, ” writes Guy Bernardin. “I had to very quickly forget completely my years of racing, learning everything over again . . . It was a new style of sailing, a different philosophy. I had to discover it little by little, learn it, and absorb it, not without some bouts of temper.”

Guy Bernardin purchased Spray of Saint-Briac in 1992 in Camden, Maine, and named her after Joshua Slocum’s celebrated ship and the place in Brittany where Bernardin first learned to sail. He sailed her around the world in tribute to the legendary Slocum and to mark the centennial of his historic solo circumnavigation completed in 1898.

Guy didn’t make the pilgrimage alone as Slocum had done 100 years earlier. Not that Guy, a bluewater sailing veteran who has participated in two OSTARs, two BOC Around Alone races, and the Vendee Globe single-handed race, lacked the credentials for such a challenge. But he took his wife, Annick, and their young son, Briac, as crew. Throughout the book, the reader witnesses a father’s pride at watching Briac’s development and emerging love of sailing and the sea.

There was more to this acquisition than honoring Joshua Slocum and commemorating the anniversary of his historic trip, however. Guy longed to learn whether this ship was everything the famous seafarer claimed. Although it took some time and patience to unlock the boat’s mysteries and learn her ways, the French-American skipper quickly adjusted to Spray‘s peculiarities and found his answer. She more than lived up to Slocum’s accolades.

He writes with glowing respect of the boat’s beauty and sailing qualities, especially her ability to sail a course unattended for long periods of time. That was a characteristic that also impressed Slocum and actually enabled his single-handed journey in a time before windvane steering and autopilots.

The circumnavigation began and ended in Newport, Rhode Island. Departing in 1995, the Bernardins returned in 1998 just in time to be the centerpiece in festivities in Newport and Fairhaven marking the 100th anniversary of Slocum’s original attainment. Although traveling more or less in the wake of the first Spray , the journey was more a paraphrase than a literal re-enactment.

Not exactly a page-tuner, Sailing Around the World is a well-written tale told warmly and winsomely by an unpretentious and unassuming sailing superstar. His admiration of Joshua Slocum is unmistakable and, in the spirit of the man he sought to honor, he made the journey look easy which, of course, we know it wasn’t. You will enjoy this book, especially if you’re a Joshua Slocum aficionado.

Back To Top


Treacherous Waters: Stories of Sailors in the Clutch of the Sea / Intrepid Voyagers: Stories of the World’s Most Adventurous Sailors

edited by Tom Lochhaas (International Marine, 2003; 350 pages; $16.95) / edited by Tom Lochhaas (International Marine, 2003; 378 pages; $16.95)
Reviewed by Richard Smeriglio, Moose Pass, Alaska

Armchair sailors and northerners who anticipate a winter lay-up take heart. While enjoying a cup of something hot, you can hear the percussive smack of wave on rock, see bananas in the rigging, and smell the fear of sailors caught by a murderous sea. As a fiendish wave overtakes Richard Maury on the 35-foot schooner, Cimba, ” The stern was sucked down . . . the bows fought as always they fought . . . her own buoyancy was all that could save the craft from being shattered, hove under.” Feel the poignant loss of Gordon Chaplin after a hurricane wrecks his anchored boat and he last sees his lover under water as she sinks away into the black.

In this twin anthology of excerpted chapters, the editor aims to whet the reader’s appetite for the lengthier works from which the chapters came. In the main he succeeds. Most, but not all, of the selections can stand alone as complete short stories. Because almost all the selections come from previously published works, well-read good old boaters will have some familiarity with them. Accounts by Chichchester, Rousmaniere, Dumas, Moitessier, the Smeetons, and the Pardeys appear. Obscure and out-of-print accounts by lucky fools and heroic madmen also appear. The editor sought to preserve neglected gems of sailing literature and rightly so. Wouldn’t a sailor wish to preserve a storied wooden schooner despite her advanced age and thereby make the world better?

Arranged in groups by topic, the stories touch on much of what draws us to sail with the wind upon the waters. The human drama, tragedy, singlehanding, racing, dangerous shores, and little boats all have sections in these books. A 6-foot, a 10-foot, and a 13.5-foot boat each makes it across the Atlantic. If you have to ask why, you wouldn’t understand; but it seems so unnecessary to start with such a craft. The reader can feel the slightly alarming intensity of Ellen MacArthur as she slaloms along at 20 knots in the Southern Ocean, self-driven to win an around-the-world race. The long-distance solo sailors (especially the British ones) seem just a little daffy. Bernard Moitessier proves the exception as he seems to grow saner and more self-aware as he sails. People die in these stories. The reader will come to know what all bluewater sailors dread or know or both: the monstrous consequences of a single wave.

The books have solid production values for paperbacks. The glue and covers look as if they will last on shore at least. The editor has included bibliographies and sources for readers inclined to get the rest of the story. Regrettably, he omitted any charts, authenticating photos or even sketch maps of the sailing grounds. The publisher plans additional volumes in this series and could correct this oversight. Readers may have to wait, however. Editor Tom Lochhaas plans a transatlantic crossing in Allegro, his 27-foot Albin Vega, which should provide salty grist for the literary mill.

Back To Top


Artemis / Seaflower

by Julian Stockwin (Scribner, 2002; 336 pages; $24 hardcover) / by Julian Stockwin (Scribner, 2003; 336 pages; $24 hardcover)
Reviewed by Randall Rogers, Maple Grove, Minn.

Aft the more honour
Forward the better man

–Horatio Nelson

As Dave Olson put it when reviewing Kydd, by Julian Stockwin (Scribner, 2001; 256 pages) in the September 2001 issue of Good Old Boat: “I miss Patrick O’Brian.” Dave’s context was that he had completed the 20-book O’Brian series and was in sore need of something to “fill the void.” In his estimation Kydd — and the books to surely follow — would again fill his literary hold. I, too, miss Patrick O’Brian.

But unlike Dave, I had only advanced to the fourth book in the O’Brian series when provided the opportunity to review Artemis and Seaflower, installments two and three in the Stockwin Napoleonic-era series. I started my read at the beginning, of course, with Kydd. And what a read it’s been! Having also read all of C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books, I can say that Stockwin is first-rate seafaring fare. Not necessarily better, certainly not worse, but assuredly excellent.

In Artemis, Thomas Paine Kydd, a pressed sailor having earlier endured the title of “grass combin’ bastard,” is now rated able seaman in the Royal Navy. Along with his mysterious friend, Nicholas Renzi, who is in self-imposed exile, he is assigned to the crack frigate Artemis. They soon see action with the French frigate, Citoyenne, followed by a return to Portsmouth for refit. While in England, Kydd gets caught up in family struggles, his sea life fading into the past as his pigtails fall to the floor. Rescued by Renzi’s intellect, Kydd’s family issues are resolved, enabling him to return to Artemis. Driven by storms, lust, and cannibalism, Artemis and her crew find their way to India, the South Pacific, and ultimately around the world. Artemis achieves fame and infamy; Kydd becomes petty officer.

The book Seaflower is all about the Caribbean as Kydd discovers his talents as tactician and leader and the ” fog” lifts about Renzi. Following a court martial, land action, hurricane, a condemned ship, and a dockyard job in Antigua as Master of the King’s Negroes, Kydd and cohorts join the cutter Seaflower.

Seaflower serves the Crown well by outsmarting more powerful foe and by conveying key naval intelligence. In the end, Seaflower finds “the hard;” Kydd and Renzi become master’s mates.

Julian Stockwin writes with a level of intensity and clarity of emotion both dark and exhilarating. He achieves for the reader the reality of Kydd’s world — from the seeming delights of the South Pacific to the pall of Caribbean slavery, from the smell of Stockholm tar in the rigging to the horrifics of sea battle. He writes of real ships and real battles and does it with a sense of historical and cultural relevance. In his own words, “I have to ‘see’ things in my mind’s eye before I can write about them. I try to go to the very places that were so important to history, to caress the old stones, to sight along a great gun that men once served in bloody battle, and most precious and transcendent, to step aboard men o’war of Kydd’s day. . .”

At the close of the 18th century, only 120 British sailors had made it from fo’c’sle to quarterdeck — that is to say, from common seamen to officer positions usually reserved for well-born gentlemen. Twenty-two went on to be captains of their own ships. Three became admirals. These men were singularities, “titans” of maritime history, and these are the men who Stockwin memorializes in his hero Kydd.

The next installment in the series, Mutiny, is due for release in the U.S. in June 2004. (Check <http://www.julianstockwin.com> for more information.)

Although I look forward to my return to the beloved O’Brian series, I will, for now, feel the loss of Mr. Thomas Paine Kydd and Mr. Nicholas Renzi. In the back of my mind I’ll be wondering if Kydd and crew aren’t engaging the enemy just over the horizon.

Back To Top


Back Under Sail: Recovering the Spirit of Adventure

by Migael Scherer (Milkweed Editions, 2003; 203 pages; $22.)
Reviewed by Ken Carter, Alexandria, Ky.

Migael Scherer starts her book in Juneau, Alaska, where she is living aboard with her husband, Paul, on their sailboat, Orca. She enjoys time spent with friends, especially Joyce. Migael and Paul sail on to Seattle, where she is brutally raped in a laundromat. After the rapist has been tried, convicted, and sentenced, depression nearly crushes Migael. Soon afterward, Joyce is diagnosed with cancer and dies.

Five years earlier Migael had been invited to sail in a race on Joyce’s boat, Eagle, as part of an all-woman crew. The race was to take place in Juneau, take six days, and cover 200 miles, but Migael had come down with the flu and had been unable to go, a decision she regrets. Now she is invited once again to sail in the race but this time with five men, only two of whom she knows. She is to be the only female aboard. Paul encourages her to participate. She accepts the invitation but wonders about her decision to be in the race: will she fit in, will she let the others down, will she be able to pull her own weight? She worries about being on a sailing adventure without Paul. She realizes that she’s grown tired of waiting for something to happen, of always looking over her shoulder.

Once she has become part of Eagle‘s crew, Migael spends some time reflecting about the things that have happened to her and the people she has met. Throughout the race, her thoughts bounce back and forth. Even in the midst of the beautiful Alaskan setting, black thoughts haunt her. But during the race she starts to see herself in a different light. She is important. What she has to say is worth listening to, and she is just as much a part of the crew as the others. Most importantly, her marriage — made rocky after the attack — has started to turn around. Paul begins to see her for who she is. She begins to realize that she is the one who has to pick up the pieces and start the rebuilding process.

This is a good book, not to be read as a novel but more like a road map. There is enough emotion in this book that all readers can relate to. Throughout life there are situations that happen that will knock the wind out of our sails or run us aground. Sometimes it may seem that darkness is consuming us., For Migael and for the rest of us, I like how the book ends. She doesn’t know what lies ahead, but another voyage and more adventure await. She knows that she and Paul will face their adventures together.

Back To Top


Our Island in the Sun

by Garry and Carol Domnisse (Trafford Publishing, 2003; 425 pages, $39.95).
Review by C.H. “Chas” Hague, Des Plaines, Ill.

Hundreds of cruisers have sailed from California down the coast of Mexico. Few have been as prepared as Garry and Carol Domnisse. Garry spent 30 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. Carol is a registered nurse. Both are enthusiastic sailors and amateur radio operators. They met, married, retired, and set off on an adventure described in their book, Our Island in the Sun.

Garry and Carol sailed from Long Beach in April 1996 in Yellow Rose, a Valiant 40. Their plan to sail to Hawaii and Alaska was squelched after 100 miles by bad weather in the Pacific. Instead they headed south, exploring Baja and the Gulf of California before sailing to Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. They went on to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica before passing through the Panama Canal and on to the Yucatan Peninsula and finishing the trip at Key West.

Along the way they delighted in the pleasures of cruising: enjoying the villages, villagers, and delicious exotic food of the Central American coast; discovering a lovely resort in Drakes Bay, Costa Rica, that you can’t get to from here; and passing through the engineering wonder that is the Panama Canal.

They also experienced the usual tribulations of living aboard a boat: checking into ports not set up to handle private yachts and trying to find parts in third-world countries (a trip to obtain a new heat exchanger ends with “the taxi ride from hell”). They also had to deal with winds in the Gulf of Tehuantepec that went from calm, to cat’s paws, to 40 knots in less than 10 minutes!

The book is a large-format paperback, with quite a few photographs and lots of charts. The charts are a disappointment. Reproduced in black and white, the scale is too small to give a feel for the distances and locations traveled, and the lettering is too small to be legible. The result is a series of anonymous blobs of coastline with course lines. I would have preferred fewer, larger-scale charts with dates, courses, and locations clearly overprinted. I would also have liked a fuller description about the repairs Yellow Rose needed and more information on the outfitting and provisioning Gerry and Carol did before they set off.

A sailor contemplating a cruise along the west coast of Mexico and Central America will find solid information in this book concerning weather, anchorages, and things to see and do.

Back To Top


The Navigators Handbook

by Jeff Toghill (The Lyons Press. 2003; 128 pages, $16.95).
Review by Don Chambers, Lawrence, Kan.

What a handsome book this one is! Glossy paper, attractive page composition, nice diagrams, and some splendid photographs: gleaming varnish and brass on a classic wooden yacht and a stunning view of a white stone lighthouse glowing fiery-red in the last moments of a sunset. Then there is a startling photo of Ellen MacArthur (the fastest woman circumnavigator) sitting mid-ocean at her nav station: sunburned, red-eyed, and looking suitably terrified.

Once past the beauty, however, the book claims too much. To be sure as claimed ” . . . this book, together with a club membership and good training, will ensure that seafaring skills of navigators are never wanting.” But, if the reader had good training and experienced sailing mates, would he or she need this book?

Indeed, the book will provide, as is claimed ” . . . an introduction to the art of navigation for boatowners new to the subject . . . ” but a handbook or a reference book it is not. A novice at celestial navigation (like myself) would have been better served by a single worked-out example, rather than beginning by instructing the reader to first ” . . . take a sextant altitude of Polaris.”

The British author doesn’t escape writing a book that is mildly Euro-centric: U.S. readers will be surprised to learn that: “Charts can be in fathoms or metres but eventually all charts will be metric,” or that ” . . . most charts are produced by the Hydrographic Office and . . . are known as Admiralty Charts.” U.S. readers might be mislead by the discussion of chart soundings in which the chart datum is said to be taken from the “lowest astronomical tide,” rather than Mean Low Water data on which U.S. charts are based.

Still, the book has virtues. For dinghy sailors with ambitions, it would be a useful introduction. Inexpensive at $16.95, it makes a nice gift. There are reasonably clear and simple discussions of laying off courses, leeway, dead reckoning, and compass bearings. There is a short overview of electronic navigational tools and charts useful for a person who is unfamiliar with them.

This is a book for wishing, one for sailors with no previous navigation experience who want to brave big waters. The next step would be for readers to find books like Piloting and Dead Reckoning, by Schufeldt, Dunlap, and Bauer, and the U.S. Sailing Association’s Basic Coastal Navigation.

Back To Top


Wendameen The Life of an American Schooner From 1912 to the Present

by Neal Parker (Down East Books, 2002; 94 pages; $16.95).
Review by Scott Simpson, Coventry, Conn.

Have you ever spied an old wooden boat sitting quietly in her cradle and wondered about her past? How beautiful she must have been! Why, oh why, was she left there to rot? Could she be returned to her days of glory? Would anyone ever invest the time and money to rescue her from the grave of neglect? It would take a special someone to handle the task.

Captain Neal Parker was just that sort of person. As his friend and mentor, Professor Carl Beam once told him, “Whatever you do, do deliberately.” He applied that philosophy to his restoration of Wendameen with conviction and, in the process, discovered her colorful past.

Neal first saw Wendameen in a shed on City Island, New York, as a teenager. Later while looking for “the right boat,” he discovered Wendameen once again . . . sitting in the mud in Connecticut and for sale. He knew little of her past but, as he worked to get her home and start the refit, the pieces began to fall together. From letters and news clippings sent from relatives of previous owners and through his own research, he put together her past and found her future.

He discovered that Wendameen, a 67-foot John Alden-designed schooner, was launched in 1912. The original owner, Chester Bliss, was president of the Boston and Albany Railroad. The next owners were Robert and Erwin Uihlein, sons of Schlitz brewery president August Uihlein. Next in line came a trio of Chicago lawyers, K.R. Beak, Eugene L. Garey, and Paul L’Amoreaux. It was then that yachtbroker Gerald Ford purchased Wendameen. She was hauled for survey and would spend the next 51 years in storage. With the Depression in full swing, there was no buyer for her. As Gerald worked to keep her fit, the hurricane of ’38 hit, leaving thousands without homes. There was no one to finish the effort, and Wendameen fell into disrepair. It was here that Neal Parker first saw her sitting in her storage shed, and the rest is history.

While the author went to great lengths to provide the reader with an unsurpassed view into her history, I could not help but feel shortchanged on the actual restoration work. He does go into some detail about his struggle to finance the restoration and about the project itself. But I expected to read in detail about her refit and launch. Despite this expectation, I did find the book quite interesting and would recommend it to anyone interested in old yachts.

Back To Top


A Boater’s Guide to VHF and GMDSS

by Sue Fletcher (International Marine, 2002; 161 pages, $16.95).
Review by George Allred, Indialantic, Fla.

“Breaker, breaker . . . 10-4 Good Buddy.” Is this how you use your VHF radio? Or have you just bought a new VHF radio and are trying to figure out what the PTT button is? If so, this book is for you. There is a lot of new technology surrounding today’s VHF radios, and this book will help you become proficient when using and operating yours. It aims to be the companion to your VHF owner’s manual. There’s a wealth of information here. The author goes into a lot of detail on how to use your radio, including usage, etiquette, and protocol. If you want to sound professional, read this book.

But the focus of this book is using the Digital Selective Calling (DSC). You can use a DSC-equipped radio to make automatic calls to friends who also have DSC radios. And you can make automated, distress, and other calls to the Coast Guard.

Unfortunately, the Coast Guard is not uniformly ready to receive such calls. This is scheduled to begin in 2006. That’s why I was a bit confused about the purpose of this book. It seemed to gloss over the standard VHF functions focusing instead on DSC capabilities. The bottom line is that Channel 16, used to hail your buddy and the Coast Guard, will be around for a long time.

Having said that, there really is a lot of DCS info in this book. This book also has a very good section on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). It describes how this system ties together the DSC-equipped radios (VHF and SSB), EPIRB, NAVTEX and Search and Rescue Transponders (SART). The information in the appendices is also very good, both to read through and to have on hand at your radio.

If you are a novice with your boat’s radio, this book would be a good item to help you learn. But if you an experienced user and a bit technical, this information is probably already on your boat or computer.

Back To Top


GPS for Mariners

by Robert Sweet (International Marine, 2003; 170 pages; $15.95).
Review by Roy Kiesling, Santa Cruz, Calif.

If I were new to GPS and wanted to learn the subject in the slickest and most efficient way possible, finding this book would be like coming down on Christmas morning to find that Santa had left absolutely everything on my list under the tree. First of all, the author had technical and managerial responsibilities during the creation of the GPS system. In a time when so many books are written by someone who read three books and then wrote his own (and publishers let them get away with it), this writer has the solid and fundamental mastery of the subject that lets him guide the reader step by step through the entire system from basic theory to detailed application on the water.

This is a book designed to be read straight through. When other writers use the evasion, “this is not a book that is meant to be read right straight through,” they are warning the prospective buyer that they lacked the grasp and discipline that would enable them to organize it for him. What they are offering is a do-it-yourself project. Put it back on the shelf. In this case, however, author Robert Sweet has done the hard labor for you. Read what he offers from start to finish, in sharp clear prose that is more of a delight than a chore, and you will know what you need to know to go safely and efficiently onto the water with your GPS.

Be warned, though, that this book is very dense with information. I approached it from a background of 10 years spent learning about GPS, through using it at sea and writing articles about it. I concluded that nothing is left out, and nothing is wrong. A major bonus for the practical boater is that it offers a virtual course in coastal navigation. It also provides detail, which can be hard to find elsewhere, of the actual wiring connections for interfacing GPS receivers with other equipment.

A friend complained to me that GPS for Mariners falls short of being specific enough about precisely which brand and model GPS to buy, but that is simply the nature of the business these days. Products appear and disappear with such rapidity that no published book could keep up in any useful way. What this book does do is give a clear overview of what features and capabilities you are likely to find in a GPS receiver, what they do for you, and how to evaluate whether you will find them useful. Those are the aspects that are changing less rapidly. A valuable appendix gives the Internet sites (URLs) for the major sources, from manufacturers, government, and dedicated hobbyists, for the most current information.

I am happy to give this book the highest possible recommendation. (You might actually want to skip Chapter 1 the first time through, because it may be more than you want to know about GPS history and the location of the ground control stations. Go back to it later, though, because these things are fun to know.)

Back To Top


Get Rid of Boat Odors

by Peggy Hall (Seaworthy Publications 2003; 90 pages;$19.95).
Review by Michael Gude, Ames, Iowa

You don’t have to look very far in your local marina to find someone with an on-board odor problem. In fact, sometimes it seems that those with the worst problems have a knack for finding you. Author Peggy Hall (a.k.a. The Headmistress) has taken the delicate issue of boat odors and broken it down into easy-to-understand parts and presented it with clarity and a sense of humor. Peggy is recognized as one of the few experts in marine sanitation, and it shows in this book. She brings together everything you have ever wanted to know about your head but were afraid to ask.

The book begins with a summary of the legal issues that pertain to small boat sanitation systems presenting the issues plainly without legal lingo. This information will keep you on the legal side of the Coast Guard but, understandably, does not cover all the state or local regulations that may apply to you. Peggy goes on to describe how many popular marine sanitation devices (MSDs) do their jobs. Refreshingly, she names models and manufacturers and includes prices.

The chapter, “Choosing and Installing a System,” diverges somewhat from the book’s title, but I found it to be very informative. Each type of MSD system is explained, from the simple Porta Potti to electric vacuum toilets. Standards of installation, such as hose diameter and even the thread count on the pump-out fitting, are described. Peggy also gives advice on how to get the old system out with minimal mess and headache.

She explains exactly why your holding tank smells bad (the answer isn’t as simple as you may think) and what to do about it. Do you know how to tell if sewage odor has permeated your system’s hoses? Peggy does, and she tells you how. Onboard odors are not restricted to the head, and neither is the content in this book. She offers advice and information on managing a smelly bilge. Also covered is how to properly flush your marine toilet, something many sailors seem to have forgotten.

Reading this book is like having an expert sit down with you and explain the how and why of marine sanitation while sparing you the gory details. If there is an aspect of marine sanitation not covered in this book, I don’t know what it is. Particularly if you have persistent odors on your boat, this book is for you. If your friends or marina neighbors have a problem, this book would make fine, if not-too-subtle, gift.

Back To Top


Hard Aground with Eddie Jones: Selected Sailing Essays for the Navigationally Challenged

by Eddie Jones (Writer’s Club Press, 2003; 152 pages; $14.95).
Review by Carolyn Corbett, Brainerd, Minn.

Eddie Jones – devout sailor, veteran columnist, computer guru – is a very funny guy. He also has a reservoir of wisdom that has little to do with learning and lots to do with living. “Time,” says Eddie, “is the only contraband we carry into this life, and what we don’t spend on others, we should exchange for memories.”

Well, Eddie, thanks for the memories. And the guffaws, the chortles, and the snickers. Hard Aground with Eddie Jones: Selected Sailing Essays for the Navigationally Challenged is filled to capacity with some of the best material about life with boats that has bobbed to the surface anytime recently.

Eddie’s new book is a collection of cruising and boating columns that originally appeared in Carolina Cruising and Coastal Cruising magazines. The stories are written for the navigationally challenged, by the navigationally challenged so the author claims.

In the book, Eddie recalls his first boat show: “Like some nautical neophyte tripping over docklines and trailer hitches, I was easy prey for the barracudas in blue blazers. They exploited my enthusiasm and ignorance and were helped, I suppose, by my mistaken belief that I could steer a sailboat toward some fixed point across a body of water by means of a wooden tiller and soiled sails.”

About a year after Carolina Cruising published its first issue, Eddie was at another boat show, this time in Raleigh, where he met editor Bert Quay. “At the time I thought all boating publications made lots of money and paid their writers exorbitant fees. I was a little disappointed my bride didn’t share my enthusiasm for this new vocation, but I knew she would come around to my way of thinking once the paychecks started adding up. Besides, I’d finally found gainful employment on the strength of my two greatest assets — laziness and ignorance.”

As his articles appeared in print, Eddie developed a loyal following of fans. Folks stopping by the booth at the Annapolis boat show didn’t want to talk subscriptions, chat with the editor, or offer to write an article for publication. All they wanted was to meet Eddie Jones.

Eddie is a “land-cuffed” cruiser: though his heart is on the water, the rest of him is home in Carolina. As his inner sailor beam reaches along the banks of the Abacos, the family man is earning a living, teaching Sunday school, and dreaming of the day when he and his wife will sail off in a boat that is “bigger than her wingspan.”

Eddie has a glorious gift for finding humor in the mundane, for painting cruising calamities with a bilge-flavored brush, and for evoking word pictures that tug at the hearts of all who are currently anchored to family, homes, and jobs as yet another flotilla of sailors make their way south for the season.

Back To Top


Maximum Sail Power

by Brian Hancock (Nomad Press, 2003; 353 pages; $44.95).
Review by Ike Stephenson, Muskegon, Mich.

Maybe you’ve repaired a sail? Perhaps even while underway. But have you repaired a sail while aloft in a bosun’s chair? Not just slapped sticky-back tape on the sail, but sewed it with needle and thread? That’s one of the experiences Brian Hancock has to draw on in Maximum Sail Power.

Brian sets up his book around a hypothetical visit to the sailmaker. The first chapter is a little uneven. He says “old-fashioned service is gone, unless of course you’re spending upward of $50,000.” I’d take issue with this. There are many small lofts that – -while carrying brand names such as UK, North etc. — are really one-man gangs. These folks earn their money via commission and will provide wonderful in-person service.

There are two other strong points made in his first chapter. One is that boat information is extremely important if you’re having a sail built. As someone who works in the industry (Torresen Marine), I can say that the more information you can provide about your boat’s model, engine model, and so on, the better things will go for you.

Brian also makes the point that “an educated customer is a sailmaker’s best customer.” Hear, hear! Will reading this book make you an educated sail buyer? Yes, and in several ways. One item you can learn about is the cloth that sails are made of. I’ve read many an article and book on just how to adjust trim but few that tell as much about sailcloth as this book does.

Individual fabrics, such as Dacron, Kevlar, and PBO are covered. How modern fabrics are made into sailcloth is also covered. He discusses several types of weaving and laminating — even Cuben fiber, which is literally a trade secret.

Brian also utilizes case studies. One example has to do with high-latitude sailing, the other with the Cape to Rio race. I don’t know how helpful these will be to the average sailor.

The book is thorough and covers all aspects of the sail wardrobe. There’s an entire chapter on storm sails. One point well made is that you should get your trysail and storm jib out of the bag and fit them. It is much easier to do this before the storm!

The working staysail gets a lot of positive ink. While this can be a useful sail, I’m not sure how this will benefit of a lot of the sailors I know. They tend toward the use of a roller-furling headsail. I don’t see many folks who are primarily daysailors adding a working staysail to their Catalina 30, for example. Practical advice, perhaps, but for a limited audience.

There’s even a chapter on repairs and repair kits. While using the book as an on-the-job reference, I found that it lacks information on sail cleaning. This is a popular question from my customers.

Maximum Sail Power may not raise to the level of masterpiece, but it does fill a bill as a reference work that’s better written and more interesting than most.

BOOK REVIEWS FROM 2002

Reviews From 2002

October 2002 Newsletter

December 2002 Newsletter


In Shackleton’s Wake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


The Northwest Passage on Ten Dollars a Day

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


The Knot Handbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


Offshore Sailing: 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


The Steel Hull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewer Lynn King is president of the Metal Boat Society, <http://www.metalboatsociety.com>.

Back To Top


Navigation Rules International-Inland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


Nautical Almanac 2002 Commercial Edition

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

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

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

Back To Top


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


Boat-Building and Boating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


Boat Logic, a nautical music CD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Top


Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

Jesse believes the human spirit can overcome any odds. And through his anguish and isolation, even at the most desperate times, he shows by example how this is tru