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.

Ken’s Cruising Yacht by Ken Hellewell (Cevennes Productions, 2008; 125 pages)