Books Worth A Look
These nine reads have a place on every sailor's bookshelf.
The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe by Glynis Ridley ($25; 2010; Crown Publishing, www.crownpublishing.com, also available on amazon.com). In 1766, a French “herb woman” changed the course of her life—and history—by disguising herself as a man and joining France’s first round-the-world sailing expedition. Its motto: “Conquer, colonize, and cultivate.” She boarded the Étoile as assistant to expedition botanist Philibert Commerson, who was also her lover. Te two-ship fleet was commanded by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (the plant discovered on this voyage received his name) on the frigate Bodeuse. The text is dense, but this meticulously researched biography is a fascinating tale of botanical discoveries, 18th-century life at sea, and a woman’s achievements despite her tenuous place in it. -L.M.C.
Piracy Today: Fighting Villainy on the High Seas by John C. Payne ($30; 2010; Sheridan House, www.sheridanhouse.com, also available on amazon.com). This book gives the controversial matter, again made relevant to cruising sailors by the murder in February 2011 of the four crewmembers of the sloop Quest, much needed historical perspective. Piracy Today also explains how piracy, from Somalia to the Strait of Malacca, is a business that affects governments, international shipping interests, and those who survive and thrive from it in lawless societies. -Rick Martell
World Cruising Destinations by Jimmy Cornell ($50; 2010; International Marine, www.internationalmarine.com, also available on amazon.com). The renowned circumnavigator who’s devoted much of his publishing career to advising sailors how and when to go now focuses on the destinations themselves, region by region and country by country, in profiles that include color photography, maps, and useful facts and resources. -M.P.
Baja Dreaming: Stories from Another Time by Rod Kulbach ($15; 2009; Fantasie Publishing, www.rodkulbach.com, also available on amazon.com). Dreaming is an apt title for this collection of tales of cruising in Baja in the 1970s. Kulbach’s fine writing evokes the Golfo de California as it once was. His explorations with various mates in small cruisers, some self-built, result in good reading, not only about places but also about the host of free spirits—both local and foreign—he met along the way. Underlying all is his heartfelt sorrow at area development and its impact on this once-pristine sea. There are nuggets of local-weather wisdom and profound glimpses of the human spirit. “So many of us bemoan our fate,” he writes. “Life passes by as we sit and wait.” Kulbach didn’t, and for that, his readers will be glad. -L.M.C.
The Boy Behind the Gate by Larry Jacobson ($28; 2010; Buoy Press, www.buoypress.com, also available on amazon.com). This saga of a six-year circumnavigation on Julia, a Stevens 50, is a compelling collection of log and personal-journal entries and emails to friends and family. It’s a firsthand chronicle of a deeply personal seafaring journey by an author who’s openly gay. His accounts of preparation, fear, ocean passages, new ports, breakdowns, weather, foreign bureaucracies, and, most important, personal and emotional growth contain lessons for all to learn. Jacobson first dreamed of captaining his own boat on far-flung adventures as a young boy, gazing at yachts from behind a marina’s locked gate. With this journey, he’s passed through that gate—and beyond. And with this book, he’s taken us with him. -L.M.C.