Books for Your Boat
Reading while sailing, reading about sailing, reading about sailing while sailing... we like it all. Take a look at Cruising World's 2012 roundup of books to bring aboard.
Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road ($5; 1998; Klutz). This book answers such general questions as “What is that bright star?” Skies in the tropics are so dazzling that you’ll want to know where and when to spot planets, stars, meteor showers, and comets so you can relax on deck and take in the heavenly show.
-Jan S. Irons
Spanish for Cruisers: The Boater's Complete Language Guide for Spanish-Speaking Destinations by Kathy Parsons ($32; 2nd ed., 2008; Aventuras Publishing Company). Parsons not only provides the words and easy pronunciations but also accompanying pictures. If all else fails and no one understands your Spanish, you can simply point at what you need!
-Jan S. Irons
Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner's Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor by Peggie Hall ($14; 2003; Seaworthy Publications). If the bilge perfume won’t go away, if you need a new head and don’t know which to buy, or if you don’t know when to replace your sanitation hoses, then this book is for you. We don’t need to refer to it as often as we refer to the others, but when it’s necessary, it instantly becomes the most important book aboard!
-Jan S. Irons
Atlantic Circle by Kathryn Lasky Knight ($4; 2012; available from Amazon.com). This sailing classic, first published in 1985, is now available as an e-book. Sailing has come a long way in terms of technology and creature comforts since the author’s voyages more than 30 years ago with her husband, Chris Knight, aboard Leucothea, their Bermuda 30 ketch. Nonetheless, today’s readers, especially reluctant first mates—as the author initially was—will love Knight’s rendering of transatlantic adventures, which include coastal and canal sojourns in Scandinavia and Europe. Her razor-sharp wit, keen observations, and top-notch writing provide amusing entertainment at its best.
-Lynda Morris Childress
Matinicus - An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott ($15; 2012; available from Amazon.com). Sailor Darcy Scott has written a blockbuster novel that intertwines past and present on the Maine island of Matinicus. Seen primarily through the eyes of Gil Hodges, a hard-drinking visiting botanist, events unfold involving a 200-year-old journal, a restless ghost, clannish lobstermen, quirky locals, and a seductive female singlehanded sailor. All are interwoven in this tale of mystery and murder that will keep you turning pages till you reach an ending guaranteed to shock even diehard “whodunit” fans. Two more novels are in the works for an “Island Mystery” trilogy featuring the wry-witted Hodges. That’s good news, because this novel will leave you wanting more of the best male protagonist to come along since Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.
-Lynda Morris Childress
Across Islands and Oceans: A Journey Alone Around the World By Sail and By Foot by James Baldwin ($10; 2012; available from Amazon.com). In the mid-1980s, the author set sail alone in his 28-foot Pearson Triton, Atom, on a circumnavigation that took him two years to complete. It was a no-frills voyage done on a lean budget, and it was accomplished the old-fashioned way, with good seamanship, including navigation by sextant and charts and few but the real sort of bells and whistles aboard. This is the well-crafted story of a young man’s voyage of self-discovery coupled with a desire to absorb and learn from the people and cultures he experiences. He finds friendship, love, and danger in this tale, whose only detriment is its lack of an epilogue. Readers can only hope that Baldwin will provide us with one in another finely written book about his subsequent sailing as well as land-based adventures.
-Lynda Morris Childress
The New Northwest Passage: A Voyage to the Front Line of Climate Change by Cameron Dueck (2012; $25; Great Plains Publications). Canadian sailor and journalist Cameron Dueck set forth for the Great White North on what appeared to be a most unlikely attempt to negotiate the Northwest Passage aboard a 40-foot cutter-rigged fiberglass monohull. Along the way, he endured crew revolts and busted gear, but his trials yielded a reward: an unparalleled portrait of radical change at the most fragile end of Earth.
South from Alaska: Sailing to Australia with a Baby for Crew by Mike Litzow (2012; University of New South Wales Press; $35). The opening quote from Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, “There is no life like the sea, where reality falls so short of romantic expectation,” is a fitting start for South from Alaska, a book that speaks to both sides of the brain simultaneously and without contradiction. Litzow, whose articles have appeared in CW, writes of the physical and emotional hardships of leaving it all behind and sailing from Alaska to Australia with his wife and 10-month-old child aboard Pelagic, a 25-year-old Crealock 37. He describes it in prose so beautiful, and with such a dose of self-deprecating comic relief, that you yearn to be there with them, forging ahead to realize a shared dream. And if I weren’t already cruising, his honest account would boost my own romantic notions of life at sea.
MoonWind at Large: Sailing Hither and Yon by Matthew Goldman (2012; Breakaway Books; $15). For those who love to relax and read while aboard and who delight in the humor of works like Farley Mowat’s The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, this is next on your list. Goldman, an author and columnist, has compiled these essays, some previously published, others not, along with his thought-provoking illustrations. His writing is full of common sense.
As well, the adventures of the crew of Moon Wind, a 26-foot Chris-Craft Pawnee exploring the shores of southeastern New England in search of the mystical land of Mass, where they speak a different language, will keep you turning the pages.
A Comprehensive Guide To Marine Medicine by Eric A. Weiss and Michael E. Jacobs ($16; 2nd ed., 2012; The Mountaineers Books). The authors, nationally recognized emergency medical doctors (Jacobs is also an experienced racing sailor), have honed this edition into a highly readable, practical, and insightful resource bursting with detailed advice about every possible physical malady, injury, and condition that can happen on and in the water. Advances in emergency communication, updated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation guidelines, how-to illustrations, and an expanded table of contents, index, and appendices make this manual a must-have.
Big Waves, Small Boat, Two Kids: A Family Sailing Adventure by Katya Goodenough Gordon ($15; 2012; North Star Press). Katya Gordon, her husband, Mark, and their two young daughters set out on the cruising life with a circumnavigation of Lake Superior, then take a journey through the Great Lakes, down the U.S. East Coast, through the Bahamas, and back north again. Her story of the voyage is filled with all the ups and downs of this watery life with children, and her honesty about her family’s experience is refreshing. In the end, the Gordons discover that even if you end up where you started, the miles that pass under your keel leave an indelible mark on your soul.
Looking for more good books? Find them here.