Books Worth A Look

These nine reads have a place on every sailor's bookshelf.

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Sea of Lost Dreams: A Dugger/Nello Novel by Ferenc Máté ($25; Albatross; available on Set in the fiercely beautiful volcanic islands of French Polynesia, this second novel in the Dugger/Nello historical adventure series is the story of man against the fury of the elements, of dreams colliding with reality, and of an anguished culture combating tyranny. Read an excerpt here. -The Editors

Bull Canyon: A Boatbuilder, a Writer, and other Wildlife by Lin Pardey ($25; 2011; Paradise Cay Publications,, also available on For four decades we’ve followed the watery exploits of the Pardeys, first aboard Seraffyn and then sailing Taleisin to the far corners of the world. In Bull Canyon, Lin takes us on a different voyage, this one ashore to a secluded stone cabin in a canyon 60 miles inland from the Los Angeles waterfront. Here, in 1979, Lin spreads her wings as a writer while Larry lays the keel, planks the sides, and fits out the interior of Taleisin. From bulldozers to mud to deer in the garden, Lin spins a wonderful tale of sailors turned dirt dwellers. In the end, their four years spent navigating shore life convince the first couple of cruising that their home truly is on the water with the bow pointed to a distant waypoint. -Mark Pillsbury

Gone to the Sea: An Anthology by Herb McCormick ($17; 2011; Paradise Cay Publications,, also available on All the great sea stories, from Jonah to the present, are epics of human aspiration, the achievement or tragic unraveling of dreams of sailors who go to sea to meet their truest selves. Wind, weather, and boats are simply the dramatic props. No one now writing about the sea and sailors appreciates this more acutely than Herb McCormick, a longtime editor with this magazine who’s found the time and compulsion to experience the sea in all its moods, in every far-flung ocean. This anthology covering his three decades of smallboat adventuring belongs at the irreducible core of every sailor’s bookshelf. -Peter Nichols

Sailing Out of Retirement: Living the Dream by Matts G. Djos ($16; 2010; Matts G. Djos, In a nation of aging baby boomers, this self-published volume targets an often-ignored niche: senior sailors. The crux of the book is a primer based on the septuagenarian author’s experiences gleaned when, after retirement, he and his wife bought a Mariner 31 ketch and went cruising. Djos advises on choosing and buying a pre-owned boat, refitting, selecting a marina, heavy-weather tactics, and medical issues for older cruisers. -Lynda Morris Childress

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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,, also available on 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,, also available on 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,, also available on 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,, also available on 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,, also available on 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.

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