The Impractical Boat Owner

by Dave Selby
(Adlard Coles, 2017; 112 pages, $14.00 print)

Review by Tom Wells

When I started reading this humorous take on boating and boaters, I expected more of the usual, but Dave Selby has a new and refreshing approach to the genre. The description on Amazon says a lot: “It is a book with no practical purpose whatsoever. It won’t make you a better sailor, and it won’t provide any instructions on boat maintenance. But it will entertain: Selby’s light but observational writings tap the rich well of all those things that sailors know but few dare admit.” As he did with the title on the cover, Selby has scrawled additions to headings throughout the book. This device reflects his tone, evidence of his dry and self-deprecating humor. All and all, it makes for a very enjoyable read.

Each chapter ends with a “Lessons Not Learned” wrap up. For the weather chapter, “You Cannot be Cirrus!” the summary is, “Stay indoors. Weather happens outdoors.” For his “How Not to Launch a Boat” chapter, the wrap up is titled, “Humility, Inadequacy, Resentment, Inferiority.” Every sailor will surely recognize some of their own experiences in Selby’s humorous take on boating.

Selby is a sailor who writes monthly sailing columns in UK boating magazines Practical Boat Owner and Classic Boat. Illustrator Jake Kavanagh’s work is on the cover and throughout and completes the package by echoing Selby’s tone.

Tom Wells had a long career as a professional engineer. He and his wife, Sandy, both retired in June 2016, and in August 2016 they set out from Waukegan, Illinois, on a 3,000-nautical-mile voyage south via the Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Hudson River, and the East Coast. They now live aboard their Tartan 37, Higher Porpoise, and are based in Southwest Florida, cruising and enjoying life.

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