by Adrian Flanagan
(Adlard Coles Nautical, 2017; 296 pages; $27.00 print, $9.99 Kindle edition)
Review by Lin Pardey
As a nautical author, I know why Adrian wrote this book. There is nothing quite as satisfying as reliving your sailing adventures by committing them to paper (or electronic files.) The highs, the lows, the beauty and the inner turmoil, you can relive each detail as you review your log book, look at your photos and let your mind drift back through each watch, each sail change. And when the adventure you undertook tested you severely, the catharsis of laying it out in words helps you regain perspective. However, the job of a reviewer is not to sympathize with the author, it is to help potential readers decide if they should invest time and money in yet another story about sailing through potentially dangerous turbulent seas, in a remote area where few will ever venture.
edited by James K. Barnett
(Washington State University Press, 2017; 321 pages; $34.95 print)
Review by Brian Fagan
Captain James Cook was the preeminent navigator of his day. His three voyages of 250 years ago are classics of exploration and pilotage. Cook’s charts are still useful. Out of interest, I’ve used them in Polynesia myself and found them invaluable. The Admiralty sent the exhausted navigator on his third and final voyage in 1776. He was to search for the Northwest Passage and map the Pacific coast of North America. Cook’s wanderings took him to New Zealand and Hawaii, then to the Oregon Coast, Vancouver Island, also Alaska and the Bering Strait, where he identified Cook Inlet. He died at the hands of angry Hawaiians, the Discovery returning home after a voyage to Kamchatka and China.
by Yves Gelinas, translated by Karen Caruana (59 North, 2017; 169 pages; $24.99 paperback, $9.99 Kindle edition).
Review by Karen Larson
Some sailors know Yves Gelinas as the nice guy behind the counter at boat shows selling Cape Horn windvanes, modeled on the windvane he built in 1981 for a world circumnavigation. Alberg 30 sailors know Yves as an icon because he made this voyage on Jean-du-Sud, his Alberg 30, after making some modifications to strengthen the hull and rig. Some know Yves as the famous Canadian from Quebec who set out to circumnavigate non-stop and to set a record with the smallest vessel to round Cape Horn. Others know him as a successful filmmaker and the winner of numerous awards for his full-length video, With Jean-du-Sud Around the World.
by Peter Reason (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016; 194 pages; $23.95 paperback, $23.95 ebook).
Review by Gregg Bruff
“Spindrift – spray blown off the crests of waves in winds of gale force and above. For sailors in a small boat, spindrift is the sign that forceful but workable conditions are becoming dangerous.”
If you have an affinity for sailing and the earth we live with, you should read Spindrift by Peter Reason. It’s that simple. Never have I found a book written by a sailor, about sailing, who can not only convey the fascinating and engaging details of a voyage, but who also can discuss and clarify big picture cultural and ecological concepts with his readers.
by Wendy Hinman (Salsa Press 2017; print $20.00, Kindle $5.99)
Review by David McDaniel
Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire is a real rattlesnake of a tale chronicling the adventures, and misadventures, of the Wilcox family as they sail their way around the world in the early 70s. Leaving a comfortable home behind, the family makes their way out of San Francisco Bay aboard their 40-foot wooden sailboat, Vela, bound for Hawaii and all points beyond. And who better to pen the Wilcox’s story than Wendy Hinman, now spouse of Garth Wilcox, who later relived a similar voyage with Garth aboard a 31-footer? Considering her intimate connection, the story of the Wilcox’s circumnavigation surely took form for the author via bits and pieces related by each family member over time – especially by Garth, the one participant for whom the family’s adventure ultimately rang loudest.
by Todd Duff (Seaworthy Publications, 2017; digital $2.99, print $14.95).
Review by Sarah Moore
Todd Duff’s novel is a thrilling adventure revolving around human trafficking, boat theft, international intrigue, and drug cartels. Though fictional, the book is based on several real stories of human trafficking. This gives a sharper edge to the story.
by Dennison Berwick (Voyage Press, 2017; print $15.99; Kindle $7.99)
Review by Robin Urquhart
Here we have a practical, illustrated guide for marine diesel engine maintenance. The main advantage of this guide is its clear and simple illustrations. This guide fills a gap where a person is just getting into diesel engine maintenance. Sometimes Nigel Calder’s books assume a level of knowledge that the neophyte mechanic simply doesn’t possess. Imagine trying to tell somebody how to check the oil that has no idea what a dipstick looks like or where on the engine to find it. Berwick’s guide is a huge asset for those wishing to get a little more hands-on in the engine room due to its simple, visual directions.
by J.D. Davies (Seaforth Publishing, 2017; Hardcover $29.95).
Review by Brian Fagan
Everyone has heard of the Great Fire of London and the plague of 1666. You may have read of the diarist Samuel Pepys’ bawdy exploits with a wide variety of young, and not so young, women. What is not widely known is that he was a respected naval administrator. But he played a less important role in what was effectively the founding of the Royal Navy than he, and many historians, would have us believe. David Davies uses his historical expertise to reveal what he pleasingly calls the “elephant in the room”—the two opinionated, sea-loving Stuart monarchs who built ships, took voyages themselves, and made Britain’s navy a force to be reckoned with. Kings of the Sea brings Charles II and James II to the historical center stage, especially the latter during his years as Duke of York and Lord High Admiral (a splendid title). His autocratic influence on naval affairs was immense, but often carefully hidden by Pepys.
by Rob Avery (Jack Tar Press 2017; print $14.95, Kindle $3.99)
Review by Michael Robertson
Rob Avery is back, with the second smart, nicely crafted crime story in the series narrated by our protagonist, Sim Greene. Following a life-altering roller coaster ride of murder and deception and a lost love in the first book, Sim boarded his beloved Figaro and sailed south from Southern California to Panama and up to the Caribbean, looking for a new life with a bit less drama. But the Virgin Islands turn out to deliver everything but the peace and tranquility that lures tourists by the thousands. Instead, Sim finds corruption at levels he could not have imagined, and an unlikely ally in his quest to get his friend Al out from under false murder charges.
by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Head to Wind Publishing, 2017; print $17.00; Kindle $5.99)
Review by Michael Robertson
I’m eager to tell you that the last book I read before picking up Still Water Bending was Lit: A Memoir by best-selling author Mary Karr. This is notable because the depth and poetic quality of Clarke’s prose is, page-for-page, on par with Karr’s. In case I’m not being clear, this is high praise.
Both authors are award-winning poets and equally skillful at leveraging their poetic perceptions to communicate the sensibilities of their characters and the true nature of the settings they inhabit. But here I’ll stop drawing comparisons because Clarke’s work stands alone. And it’s not a memoir, but a novel, a work that is equal parts lush and enveloping, and sharp and unyielding.
by Marilyn Johnson (Createspace, 2016, 384 pages, print $44.95)
Review by Sara Dawn Johnson
Say you are planning a summer cruise from the Puget Sound to British Columbia, or maybe as far as Southeast Alaska. You’ve probably got a pile of guidebooks on your nightstand already; you spend your winter evenings perusing them, planning the anchorages and towns you’d like to visit. Besides filling your sailboat with food and fuel, you’re ready to go. But before you do, there’s one more book you need: and that is Taken By the Wind by Marilyn Johnson.
by The National Archives (Adlard Coles 2017; 304 pages; hardcover $35.00)
Review by David McDaniel
Polar expeditions, naval battles, discovery, piracy, mutiny on the high seas…these are but some of the themes contained in Tales from the Captain’s Log. As the title implies, this collection of historical tales has been reproduced directly from actual ships’ logs and personal journals of the great men who sailed the oceans in the 17th and 18th centuries, a period long considered the Golden Age of Sail. Commanders, ships’ doctors, and even inmates frequently penned wonderfully vivid accounts aboard sailing vessels, providing today’s reader glimpses into their lives at sea. These documents have been preserved by the British National Archives and were selected as the foundation for this enlightening volume, transcribed and narrated by a host of authors.
by James L. Haley (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, November 14, 2017, 400 pages, print $27.00, eBook $13.99)
Review by Sara Dawn Johnson
I’m fond of books that take me back to another time, as if I’ve slipped through a portal, to experience our human history in person. A Darker Sea is one of those books.
Award-winning historian James L. Haley has written another gripping story of midshipman Bliven Putnam. The first in series details Putnam’s naval adventures in the Mediterranean and Tripoli; for this second installment, Putnam has returned stateside and been given command of his own ship, the modest USS Tempest. When the United States declares war on Great Britain in 1812, and although outnumbered in ships 50 to1, Putnam goes forth without hesitation to serve his country.
by Jack Lagan (Adlard Coles Nautical/Bloomsbury, 2nd Edition 2017; hard cover; $22.00)
Review by Brian Fagan
It’s wrong for hoary mariners to bemoan the evils of GPS and the loss of traditional navigational skills. Nonsense, as Jack Lagan points out in his Barefoot Navigator. His extended exploration of the art of navigation is not about ultra-precision, but an informed excursion through the arcane history of navigation and traditional navigational methods that are invaluable, even if you have all the seductive machinery of the electronic age to guide you. In Part 1, Lagan takes us on a six-essay exploration of the “skills of the ancients.” There are the usual Polynesians and Viking participants, but now refreshing to see respectful treatment of Arab navigators and the Indian Ocean, also of Chinese expertise, much underrated in the West. He ends with Portolan charts and other better-known tools of the Renaissance navigational toolkit.
by Antonio J. Hopson (Anaphora Literary Press 2017; 260 pages; paperback $20.00)
Review by Chas. H. Hague
It is Race Week in the Salish Sea, north-northwest of Seattle, Washington. This is important to many of the characters in Antonio Hopson’s novel Nefarious, but not because they want to win any of the races, at least not mostly.
by Michel Olagnon (Alfred Coles Nautical, 2017; paperback $30.00)
Review by Jim Papa
There is, perhaps, no more ephemeral and monstrous a phenomenon than a rogue wave. A ship that meets one may suffer grave damage or even disappear before a Mayday can be sent. And yet the sea is no different in the wake of a rogue wave than it was before.
by STAN GRAYSON (Tilbury House Publishers with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2017; 400 pages, hard cover; $29.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, Wisconsin
Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s I became obsessed with the idea of owning a sailboat after seeing one on a trailer with a “For Sale” sign hanging from the bow, and soon found myself reading everything I could get my hands on related to sailing. Then Time magazine had a little blurb about the upcoming BOC Challenge, a single-handed, around-the-world sailboat race, and mentioned that Joshua Slocum was the first man to pull off a single-handed circumnavigation. Naturally, I went to the library and read his book, Sailing Alone Around the World. A few years ago my daughter bought me a copy for Christmas and I read it again with a greater appreciation for what Slocum accomplished, no doubt because by then I had my own boat and some sailing experience on Lake Michigan. That’s a rather long introduction to a book review, but it’s my background that caused me to jump at the chance to review this book..
By Jim Trefethen ( International Marine, 2016; 244 pages, Print $25.00; eBook $15.99
Review by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, WI
When author Jim Trefethen wrote Sailing Into Retirement, he combined some information from his previous book, The Cruising Life, first published in 1999, with a second, updated edition in 2015. But, in the author’s own words, “I have tried not to duplicate material…but to build on it, especially where specific subjects pertaining to elderly sailors are involved.” In the past 40 years he’s owned and sailed several boats on several oceans, so he knows whereof he speaks. He’s also in his 70s, which adds to his credibility, so being that I’m in my mid-60s myself, I felt it was worth a look.
BY MARY LAUDIEN, ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAVE ALAVOINE ( Createspace, 2016; 56 pages, Print $13.99; eBook $7.99)
Review by Carolyn Corbett, Lake Shore, MN
Who’s the Captain? is a 56 page picture book of sailing life according to Dad and his crew. The humor in the text is accentuated by clever, colorful cartoons. Older kids who are familiar with the ins and outs of sailing will appreciate the humor and little ones will love the cartoon characters.
BY BILL STREEVER ( little Brown, 2016; 308 pages, Print $26.00; eBook $13.99)
Review by Brian Fagan, Santa Barbara, CA
Bill Streever is a biologist and a well-known nature writer. He and his wife, Lisanne, are novice cruising folk, who boldly set off on a cruise from Galveston, Texas, to Mexico’s Yucatan with only a very brief sailing course under their belts. They set sail in a 50-foot yawl, which strikes one as foolhardy, until you realize that Bill takes weather forecasts very seriously indeed. They enjoyed a remarkably incident-free cruise, which speaks volumes for their calm acceptance of the vagaries of the sailing life.
BY CYNDI PERKINS ( Beating Windward Press, 2017; 215 page, Print $18.95
Review by Karen Larson, Founder, Good Old Boat Magazine
Not in all the years that hundreds of sailing books have landed on my desk for review have I thought that a novel was destined for the leap from boating literature to mainstream reading and popularity on the big charts. This vault above all the rest of the books I’ve reviewed is all the more amazing because it is a first novel by a woman who has been a writer all her life but never the author of a book.
BY ANDREW EVANS (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION, 2015; 244 PAGES, SOFT COVER; $23.00, $13.69 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY WAYNE GAGNON
I’ve been sailing Tortuga, my 1969 Westerly Centaur, since 2003, and about 75 percent of the time I’m alone, so needless to say I was thrilled when asked to review Andrew Evan’s book, Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics. As it turns out, Evans has been sailing about as long as I have. True, he has a lot more miles under his keel than I do, but like me they’re mostly singlehanded, so in that respect I felt a kinship with his writing.
BY GEORGE BUEHLER (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION, 2014; 400 PAGES, $34.00, $18.70 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY WAYNE GAGNON
I first got the bug to own a sailboat sometime in the late ’70s and for a while I toyed with the idea of building one. However, as the years went by and I came to understand myself more, I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. The building, that is, not the owning. Anyhow, while feeding the fantasy I managed to accumulate a library of boat plans and how-to books, one of which was the 1991 edition of Buehler’s Backyard Boatbuilding, so when the opportunity to review the 2014 edition presented itself I couldn’t say no.
BY TOM CUNLIFFE (ADLAR COLES, 2015, 272 PAGES; $25.00, $11.13 AMAZON PAPERBACK; $13.19 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY DAVID MCDANIEL
In the Wake of Heroes: Sailing’s Greatest Stories is an apt title for this collection of excerpts from sailing adventures penned over the last century and a half. Tom Cunliffe provides a brief introduction to each chapter, creating an entry point from which we are thrust into extraordinary accounts of seamanship, sport, and often unbelievable courage. The stories range the entire scope of sailing — bluewater passagemaking, high-latitude exploration, daysailing, racing — all laced together with a shared spirit of adventure and, in many cases, a sense of urgency. Readers from all walks of life will find much to appease their inner sailor.
BY JAMES HALEY (G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, 2016; 448 PAGES; $28.00, $14.99 KINDLE. TO BE PUBLISHED NOV. 1, 2016)
REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
Historical novelist James Haley has entered the crowded field of nautical fiction occupied by the likes of Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey-Maturin series), C. S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower), Richard Woodman (Nathaniel Drinkwater), Dewey Lambdin (Alan Lewrie), and William Hammond (The Cutler Family Chronicles).
Like William Hammond, with his excellent and nearly completed series, James Haley tells the story from the perspective of the American Navy. The first book of the series, The Shores of Tripoli, places young midshipman Bliven Putnam aboard the Enterprise en route to the Mediterranean, serving the flagship, the 44-gun frigate President. Bliven’s Enterprise is a 165-ton schooner, 85 feet in length with twelve 6-pounder guns and a crew of 90.
BY CARL BROOKINS, BROOKINS BOOKS, 2016; 239 PAGES; $13.95
REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
Michael and Elizabeth Tanner and a friend charter a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy a typical cruise . . . that is, until the fog closes in and a large mystery boat attacks for no apparent reason. Eventually their charter boat is sunk and Michael regains consciousness sometime later on a beach. He later learns that his wife and their friend have both died in the sinking.
BY BOB AND KAREN JONES (PIANKATANK PRESS, 2016; 304 PAGES; $17.00, $4.95 DIGITAL)
REVIEW BY JAMES PAPA
Sailing Toward Sunrise chronicles the journey of Bob and Karen Jones, recently retired, as they travel from Corpus Christi to Chesapeake Bay via the Intracoastal Waterway in Watercolors, their 21-year-old Catalina 30. Lake sailors on small boats for most of their lives, two short charter trips in the Caribbean eventually set them dreaming of wider horizons and distant shores. So, done with their work lives, they bought a bigger boat, took some ASA courses, read a few books by bluewater sailors, and set a course for Virginia’s Cape Henry.
BY R. A. BARD (SMOOTH PASSAGE BOOKS, 2016; 194 PAGES; $9.99)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book! Red Flags in Blue Water is about assorted calamities R.A. Bard has encountered as a commercial fisherman turned delivery skipper. Most of his passages have proceeded smoothly, he explains in the foreword to the book, but he finds the attention span of friends and acquaintances wanders when he tells of those travels. So it’s the ones in which chaos looms — “When the weather snarls, when mechanical systems fail, when crew relations spiral into weirdness” — that are collected in this book.
BY PEGGIE HALL (SEAWORTHY PUBLICATIONS, INC., 2016, 114 PAGES;
REVIEW BY PAUL FOER
This book could be called the “Bible of Bile” or perhaps “Fifty Shades of Gray and Black Water” but its real title is longer than your boat’s sanitation hose. It is The New! Updated, revised and expanded! Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner’s Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor.
BY RUDY AND JILL SECHEZ (WATERWAY GUIDE MEDIA, 2015, 248 PAGES, $24.95)
REVIEW BY CHAS. HAGUE
Contrary to the title, this is not a book about how to anchor. This is a book on how to select and size the gear required for anxiety-free anchoring. As such, it is a great resource.