Off Watch: Sailors' Bookshelf

Recently, we've received a slew of new titles penned by authors with strong connections to Cruising World.

Sailing books
This collection of recently published books will be a welcome addition to any sailor’s bookshelf.Herb McCormick

Whether crossing an ocean, lying on a beach or curled up beside a fire on a cold winter night, for almost any sailor there's nothing better than a good book, especially a great sea tale. Over the last few months a slew of new, interesting titles has found their way to our offices, ­several of which have been penned by authors with strong connections to Cruising World. Here are a few of our favorites, all of which are available on Amazon and other outlets. They're perfect for wiling away some time on a lonely watch, or connecting us to the sea when high and dry.

Second Wind by Nathaniel Philbrick (Penguin Books): Before he was the best-selling author of books including In the Heart of the Sea, Nat Philbrick was an editor for our sister magazine, Sailing World, and a champion Sunfish racer. Second Wind tells the story of a long winter sailing on the bays, lakes and ponds of Nantucket on a quest to shake off the rust of full-time writing and parenting to perhaps recapture his youthful glory at the Sunfish North Americans. The tale Philbrick tells is well told, enlightening and entertaining.

Spirit of a Dream by Dave Rearick (Seaworthy Publications): CW contributor Rearick ("Hope Springs Eternal," April 2018) was a longtime solo Great Lakes sailor with a powerful ambition – to sail alone around the world. He did so on an adventurous circumnavigation aboard his twitchy Open 40, Bodacious Dream. A fine writer with an easy, engaging style, Rearick's account of the trip – the questioning, sometimes debilitating lows as well the soaring highs – is honest, revealing and educational.

Heart of the Story by Barbara Lloyd (Story Arts Media): Based in Newport, Rhode Island, sailing and skiing ­journalist Lloyd made her name as the longtime boating writer for the New York Times, where she covered numerous America's Cup regattas as well as the international yachting scene (and penned several articles for CW). Her encounters with countless famous sailors are a candid glimpse behind the curtain. But where this memoir really shines is in the details of her adventurous life, especially her days plying the oceans on a freighter with her sea captain partner. Sometimes a reporter's best stories are their very own.

Sea Trial by Brian Harvey (ECW Press): When Harvey set sail to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, he did so with a box full of records of the court proceedings in a ­malpractice suit brought against his late father, a neurosurgeon. The "trial" in the book's title has a double meaning, as it refers to both the author's own voyage after a long hiatus from the sea, and the actual court case he comes to realize was his dad's undoing. In the hands of a lesser writer this balancing act might have been a formula for disaster, but Harvey has serious skills, and his riveting story is impossible to put down.

Kidnapped from the Caribbean by Todd Duff (Seaworthy Publications): A long-distance cruiser based in the British Virgin Islands, Duff has written several features for CW on his own rambles across the Pacific. Here, in his first novel, his heroes are undercover investigators Brice Cannon and Julie Sparks, a pair of experienced voyagers who find themselves in an escapade involving sex, drugs, kidnapping, the CIA, pirates and Colombian warlords, among other unsavory characters and situations. It all makes for a page-turning romp.

Finding Pax by Kaci Cronkhite (Adlard Coles): Right from the get-go, Cronkhite admits that her book is a love story … not one involving two living, breathing souls, but between a woman and her boat. Finding Pax is many things – it's a bit of a mystery, a rumination on family, a salty yarn about restoring a classic, a story of one sailor's journey. And in the end, it turns out the love story really was about two kindred spirits after all.

Modern Marine Weather by David Burch (Starpath Publications): OK, this one isn't really recreational reading. But it deserves a place on any sailor's bookshelf. Burch isn't only a master mariner, he's a talented educator, and this broad treatise on all things weather-related is extremely well done, with difficult concepts simply explained and plenty of supporting graphics and charts to make every cruiser's favorite topic crystal clear.

Herb McCormick is CW’s executive editor.