Books for On Board

Here are our picks for the best books to have onboard for your next voyage.

September 7, 2017

Close Hauled

close hauled
By Rob Avery (2016; Jack Tar Publishing; $14.99 paperback, $2.99 e-book) Courtesy of the Publisher

Remember Travis McGee, the hard-boiled liveaboard protagonist who prevailed through 21 John D. MacDonald crime/mystery/detective books? Sadly he’s frozen in time, but readers hungry for more now have a new protagonist: Sim Greene, a modern-day liveaboard sailor in Southern California. In this first installment of a series I’m eager to consume, Sim Greene finds a murder victim outside Ventura Harbor. Right away, the discovery shoves him down a twisting, unknowable path that pits his intelligence and intuition against those determined to take not just his life, but also the lives of those close to him.


Learn to Sail Today: From Novice to Sailor in One Week

learn to sail
by Barry Lewis (2016; Mby Barry Lewis (2016; McGraw-Hill Education; $21 paperback, $12.49 e-book) Courtesy of the Publisher

About a year ago, I was in American Samoa helping kids learn to sail. We’d meet at 8 a.m., and by 11 a.m., the eager sailors were seated in Optimists, hands on sheets and tillers, ready to be pushed off. This is the book I wish I’d had for each one of those young sailors. It ushers the reader onto the water that first day, but then continues the instruction — not limited to dinghy sailing — over six additional “days.” The author believes in a simplified, intuitive approach and, in addition to the excellent layout and illustrations, conveys everything a beginner needs to know in an understanding, reassuring tone. From novice to sailor in one week? Absolutely.



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

sea trials
By Wendy Hinman (Salsa Press, 2017; paperback $20, e-book $5.99). Courtesy of the Publisher

In 1973, a San Francisco family departed on a planned four-year round-the-world voyage. The Wilcox crew — Chuck; his wife, Dawn; and kids, Garth, 13, and Linda, 10 — set sail with varying degrees of enthusiasm (at a time when world cruising was uncommon and offshore navigation was celestial) to fulfill what was primarily Chuck’s lifelong dream. The book’s title hints at what’s to come. With significant textbook preparation and training, some inshore experience but no offshore or shakedown cruising aboard their 40-foot wood Maine Pinky, Vela, the voyage itself becomes a series of sea trials. There are pleasures and many pitfalls, including a near-disastrous shipwreck on a Pacific reef and the painstaking salvage and repair of Vela in a remote port.

The author, an experienced sailor who is married to the now-adult Garth, tells this riveting tale with objective skill and restraint in terms of both shifting family dynamics as the cruise progresses and what might (or should) have been done differently. Even as the family builds seamanship skills, readers will likely find themselves bracing for (or judging) what comes next, yet it’s impossible not to care about them and the outcome. This tale of a circumnavigation that ultimately took five years, completed against all odds, is full of real-life drama and “lessons learned” — a feat of perseverance fueled by determination. It is impossible to put down until the nail-biting end.



The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice

rigger aprentice
By Brion Toss (2016; International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; $45) Courtesy of the Publisher

Any expert can write a textbook filled with information. But any such book will pale in comparison to one written by an expert in love with what they do. Want to know more about any aspect of your standing and running rigging? Want to learn techniques for handling emergencies? Want to learn to splice line? Whip line? Do some fancy macramé around your ship’s wheel? All the information is here, and because Toss yearns to share his craft, it’s also a fun read, interspersed with wit, fascinating stories and clever illustrations. This is the second edition of the book Toss first began writing 30 years ago. His corrections and new ways of thinking are reflected on nearly every page.


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