Reviews From 2013

February 2013 Newsletter
April 2013 Newsletter
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The Galley Slave’s Handbook:
Provisioning and Cooking for an Ocean Crossing

by Richard Bevan (ChangeStart Press, 2010; 136 pages; $9.95).
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury, Port Ludlow, Washington

Captain Charlie Tongue was looking for the “fresh perspective of a first-timer” when he asked Richard Bevan to take charge of the provisioning, manage the cooking, and write a blog while crewing onboard the Neroli of Fowey, a 1999 Hallberg Rassey 42. Bevan accepted the challenge to voyage from St Lucia to the Azores in May and June 2010 and shares all that he learned during that ocean crossing in The Galley Slave’s Handbook.
Bevan, formerly a weekend sailor, doesn’t call himself an expert; however, he learned a lot from the project and shares his wealth of knowledge in a very organized and thorough manner. 
Sections in the book cover:

  • Basic food needs and emergency supplies
  • Meal plans — with fresh, frozen, or packaged ingredients
  • Storage guidelines
  • Provisioning list
  • Cooking at sea
  • Landfall (meals)
  • Recipes for freezing, fresh ingredients, packaged ingredients, emergency dishes, bread, pasta, rice, etc.
  • Afterword: Reflections from the Captain

The author advises readers in each section how to plan enough meals, as well as how to plan for unplanned circumstances, based on both their own experience and circumstances. For example, his planned meals included the use of fresh, frozen, and packaged ingredients. Some vessels may not have freezers/refrigerators but may have ice boxes and coolers. Additionally, some sailors would prefer to keep it simple and use more packaged meals. The key to his plan is its flexibility — you can adjust it depending on your needs and preferences.

Bevan kept track of supplies using entries in a blog. Additionally, he used an actual spreadsheet to plan meals and make Neroli of Fowey’s provisioning list. Being organized, and having enough emergency meals on hand, came in handy when their vessel’s generator failed and refrigeration was no longer available.

Included recipes are simplified “recognizing that they may be used under challenging conditions.” Quite a variety of recipes are provided, from pancakes to chicken chili and risotto to baked ham with vegetables. Add your own recipes, or use those provided. The author recommends, however, that any recipes be tested first on shore.

Readers will want to make sure to read the section titled Guidelines to Storage. Valuable information is provided about which fruits and vegetables last longest, whether to buy green or ripe, or even whether to bring them onboard at all. Reading further, readers will find out which ones can be stored together and which ones should be kept separate.

The Galley Slave’s Handbook is a combination “How-to” book and cookbook. Whether you are going on a coastal cruise, or an ocean crossing, Bevan’s provisioning tips and guidelines are worth considering, making it an excellent read for experienced boaters and novices alike.

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We Who Pass Like Foam

by Benjamin Zartman (Amazon Digital Services, 2012; 707 kb; Kindle edition, $9.99).
Review by Jaja Martin, Bremen, Maine.

In a world where the cruising boats seem to be getting larger, We Who Pass Like Foam by Ben Zartman is a welcome and refreshing insight into small boat cruising on a tight budget. With a minimal outpouring of cash, Ben and his wife, Danielle, use creativity and ingenuity to solve the myriad problems that beset them. Their combined endurance during difficult, uncomfortable passages strengthens their resolve to continue their adventure. When other cruisers tell them, “You’ll never be able to do that!” it increases their determination to succeed. 

Leaving Fort Myers, Florida, on their unfinished boat, Capella, Ben and Danielle strike out across the Gulf of Mexico for Isla Mujeres. Armed with youth, energy, and a strong sense of self-reliance, they unflinchingly survive their first offshore passage without waterproof clothing, self-steering, or a dry warm cabin. During the crossing they deal with a broken swing keel and an alarming leak that fills their bilge and soaks their bed and cushions. They arrive exhausted, cold, and wet but exhilarated with their success. 

During their ensuing adventure Ben and Danielle experience the joys and difficulties of life afloat. The theft of their dinghy, accompanied by a village of deceitful locals, illustrates the darkness of human treachery. On the next island a local family adopts them and that family’s unselfish giving restores their faith in the abundance of human kindness.

Ben and Danielle employ traditional nautical methods not only to save money, but also for aesthetic reasons. Ben skillfully uses a lead line, calling soundings to Danielle at the helm. They have kerosene running lights, using old theater gels to color them for port and starboard. Throughout the book Ben struggles with his ideal of using only celestial navigation to pilot Capella. However, he balances his ideals with the safety of the boat by using GPS to occasionally check his accuracy.

We Who Pass Like Foam is a story of youthful courage, determination, and joie de vivre, with a surprise at the end.

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Child of the Sea

by Doina Cornell (Cornell Sailing Ltd., 2012; 224 pages; $19.95).
Review by Chas. Hague,Des Plaines, Illinois

Jimmy Cornell Lived the Dream: While in England in 1974, he bought a bare hull, finished and outfitted it, then spent the next seven years sailing Aventura around the world.
This is not his story.

Accompanying him on this journey were his wife Gwenda, his son Ivan, and his daughter Doina. From the ages of 7 to 14, Doina grew up on her parents’ 36-foot sailboat, traveling in the Mediterranean from Gibraltar to her father's home country of Romania, then across the Atlantic, up the Eastern seaboard to Maine, then three years in the Pacific, visiting islands and making friends with kids her own age all over the world.

Ms. Cornell writes with the voice of her adolescent self, which makes the descriptions of the sights and events of her journey as fresh as when they first took place. Mum became qualified as a teacher, so she could “boat-school” her children; one lesson on the Peloponnesian Wars takes place on a rocky hill overlooking the actual battlefield in Greece.

Most cruising books are written by the captain and, therefore, contain involved descriptions of the sailing, weather, difficulties, and problems. Not so Child of the Sea. Instead of a technical discussion of what exactly went wrong with the engine and what was required to repair it, Doina simply says, “Had to wait for a new starter motor to arrive from Australia. Stayed in Rabul for over a month.” Doina writes about her life on board, her feelings as a proto-teenager (nobody, apparently, bothered to explain puberty to her), romance, and her own desire to write.

The book does not end with crossing the wake. After over six years at sea, she and her brother yearned for a more normal life. Doina continues her story, returning to England, struggling to fit in at regular school, and adjusting to life on land. She does well, despite the casual cruelty of other kids. And things get better.

Child of the Sea is a unique view of a circumnavigation, as seen through the very observant eyes of a young girl growing up under sail.

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The Great Book of Anchorages:
Hampton Roads and Norfolk to the Florida Keys

by Chuck Baier and Susan Landry (Beach House Publications, 2012; 154 pages; $24)
Review by James Williams, S/v Alizee, St. Petersburg, Florida

“Do we need another book of anchorages along the ICW?” I asked myself this question several times after receiving The Great Book of Anchorages, and the answer still evades me. On my trips along the ICW, from the Chesapeake to Key West, I’ve used The Intracoastal Waterway Chart Book; Jack Dozier’s Waterway Guides; Skipper Bob’s Anchorages Along the Intracoastal Waterway, which now is in its 17th edition and published by Dozier; Maptech charts and their cruising guides; as well as Navionics electronic charts and, more recently, ActiveCaptain online. Frankly, there is no shortage of guides, and it’s hard to keep track of them. It turns out that much of the time motoring along the ICW is spent reading charts and guides, all the while running the risk of missing the trip.

I wish Chuck Baier and his wife and partner, Susan Landry, former general manager and former editor, respectively, of Dozier’s Waterway Guide, had explained forthrightly why we needed this new anchorage guide, the first of what they plan to produce for the Bahamas and then the Great Loop. They claim on their website (<http://www.tgboa.com/home>) that “Over 20 years of cruising these waters has provided us with the knowledge and understanding to provide our fellow boaters with the information you've asked for.” Yet, I’m not sure this new contribution to the field really offers more than can be found elsewhere, even with an abbreviated interactive map of anchorages on their website.

Anchorages begins with a three-page discussion of the six most common anchor types, three pages on how to anchor, and then nine pages in which the authors offer their suggested trip down the ICW, with anchorages but without marina stops. The actual information for each anchorage follows, with three “chartlets” from NOAA charts showing the approach to each anchorage. Each chartlet includes the anchorage name, statute mile on the ICW, Lat/Long, approach depth, anchorage depth, type of bottom and holding, wind protection, shore access, and a box with brief comments focusing on such topics as room in the anchorage, current, boat traffic, giving a close-by alternate anchorage, and approach information. The anchorage descriptions begin in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and proceed to the Florida Keys from SM 0 to SM 1238, including the Virginia Cut route and the Dismal Swamp route at the beginning and the Hawk Channel and ICW routes south of Miami. Following mile 1238, anchorages for the St. Johns River are listed beginning at river mile 3 through RM 160 (Lake Monroe Park).  An anchorage index by SM and another alphabetical one close out the volume.

In general, I found the chartlets relatively easy to read, although I had to compare them with a full chart to really grasp the orientation of many, and the information provided was adequate but limited. The authors promise on the cover a list of over 530 anchorages and free docks; however, there are only 381 named anchorages, each with chartlets. The additional 149 anchorages promised must be on the chartlets that show one, sometimes two, alternate spots to drop the hook (I did not try to count them all). I was surprised at the omission of one Florida anchorage, Maule Lake, at SM 1077.5, which is probably the best anchorage in the vicinity, and even though a small anchoring fee is charged in No Name Harbor (SM 1095.5), I found it surprising that the authors recommended the exposed Cape Florida anchorage outside the harbor.

I took the time to compare every listed anchorage with those appearing on ActiveCaptain and I found the exercise enlightening. I found only 38 of 258 ICW anchorages listed in Anchorages, just under 15 percent, were not on ActiveCaptain. In 24 cases, anchorage names were different between Anchorages and ActiveCaptain. More significantly, I found that the brief comments on each anchorage paled in the face of multiple reviews of anchorages on ActiveCaptain.

The Great Book of Anchorages certainly will provide first-timers on the ICW with useful anchorage information, and sailors like myself, who just can’t keep their hands off cruising guides and the like, will probably add it to their collection. But I’m not sure I see a big future in print editions of anchorage guides. Earlier this year, Garmin licensed Active Captain's interactive cruising guidebook to integrate it into their BlueChart Mobile app for iPad and iPhone, and I cannot believe that other electronic charting firms will not similarly be drawing on ActiveCaptain’s rich database. Rather than another series of printed guides, all rather pricey, I’d prefer to have an electronic chart system with the anchorage guide built in. Well, that is, until the electronics fail.

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A Call to Arms

by William C. Hammond (Naval Institute Press, 2012; 256 pages; $29.95).
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Novelist and historian William Hammond has been delighting readers of historical fiction since 2007, when the first volume of the Cutler Family Chronicles was published. A Matter of Honor was a big success and could rival Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series as one of the best naval historical tales of all time. As the series has moved along, key protagonist Richard Cutler has grown from young midshipman to captain and father of the next generation of Cutler seafarers.

In A Call to Arms, the fourth book of the series, Bill Hammond’s research and storytelling skills bring the events of the first Barbary War (1801-1805) to life with the bombardment of Tripoli (“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,” anyone?) and the burning of the USS Philadelphia. These events grew out of the anger felt by U.S. citizens when the pirates of the Barbary States took and held prisoners for ransom and required exorbitant annual bribe payments “to ensure safe passage.” In the quest to free itself from yet another kind of tyranny, the young republic of the United States responded with naval battles and an incredible desert march concluding with an improbable marine assault by land.

During the same period, the War of 1812 is brewing and an American naval presence is being developed to deal with the arrogant and unlawful impressment of U.S. sailors by British war ships on the high seas.

Bill brings perspective to the events you studied in history class by showing how historical events affected the personal business decisions and activities of the people of the times. In doing so, he offers an authentic view into the daily lives of individuals in the early 1800s.

What sets his Cutler Family Chronicles apart is that Bill Hammond offers his view of naval history from the perspective of the United States of America, rather than Great Britain. A Matter of Honor starts the series. It is followed by For Love of Country (2010), The Power and the Glory (2011), and this newest one: A Call to Arms (2012). It’s worthwhile to read all four. Then stay tuned for numbers five and six as the War of 1812 boils over, personally involving the entire Cutler family on land and sea.

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Unsinkable: A Young Woman’s Courageous Battle on the High Seas

by Abby Sunderland and Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2011; 221 pages; $22.99)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

“I am not the same person who set sail from Marina del Rey on January 23, 2010…I have a different take on life than before. Alone with myself at sea for months, I learned who I am...” Abby Sunderland

Unsinkable is a story about a young woman coming of age. The obstacles 16-year-old Abby encounters at sea while attempting a solo sail around the world, are only part of the story. Before she has even begun her voyage, she and her parents find themselves having to convince the world that she is ready to embark upon such an adventure. Despite many naysayers and critics, sponsors, and a team of experts come together to form “Team Abby” — and her dream becomes real.

Abby Sunderland grew up on boats. In 1998 she and her family moved onto a mooring in Emerald Bay (Catalina Island), where her father was working as a harbor patrolman. In 2001, Abby, her mother and father and three siblings set out for Mexico on their fifty-one-foot Aleutian cutter-rigged sailboat Amazing Grace. For three years the Sunderlands cruised and Abby’s parents taught their children safety at sea and how to appreciate simple pleasures.

Once Abby got saltwater in her veins, there was no turning back. When she was thirteen, she started helping her dad deliver boats from port to port. It was on the water that Abby felt the most at home. That year she told her father she wanted to sail around the world someday — alone.

As time went on, Abby Sunderland’s desire to sail solo did not waver. After much planning and hard work, sponsors and the gathering of a team of experts, she set out aboard Wild Eyes on January 23, 2010, on an adventure to catch the golden ring.

Unsinkable is written in three voices: Abby’s, the narrator’s and the rescuers’ who saved her in the Indian Ocean. This method works wonderfully, allowing readers to feel like they are right beside Abby throughout her voyage. When she spends ten hours ripping apart the electronic system and putting it together over and over again in different ways, in order to have one working autopilot (while wet and freezing), readers shiver too — and feel a sense of accomplishment for this young and determined sailor.

“Feeling frustration start to build in my chest, I squashed it like a cockroach before it could turn to fear.” Abby Sunderland

Additionally, readers know what her parents and the members of her support team are doing, thinking, and feeling — especially when Abby is having problems with something going wrong on Wild Eyes or when they have no way to contact her. Readers feel the frustration and tiredness of Abby’s pregnant mother, as she waits long hours to hear that her daughter has been located and taken to safety — and the pride of her team members when they see her face situation after situation, and give no sign of giving up.

Knowing what the rescuers are doing, thinking and feeling, makes them very real – and shows their determination to find and rescue Abby. Readers will find themselves crossing their fingers and cheering for them to be successful.

Unsinkable is not a story of failure, but one of accomplishment. Abby’s trip did not end the way she had hoped, but she had sailed twelve thousand miles and she was proud of her accomplishment. And — she still loved sailing.

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Living on the Edge with Sara B: A Sailing Memoir

by Susan Peterson Gateley (Ariel Associates/Whiskey Hill Press; 150 pages; $12.50+$2.00 postage and handling from the author’s online store at: www.chimneybluff.com.
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Susan Peterson Gateley’s memoir is the story of desiring, acquiring, and sailing Sara B, a wooden gaff-rigged schooner. Gateley and her husband bought the schooner, complete with two masts and five sails, on eBay in 2004, after a road trip to view the boat in person. 

They lived “on the edge” with Sara B in a number of ways. They were on the edge socio-economically as self-employed Schedule C filers with a small business and a needy boat. They were on the geographic edge — the shoreline of Lake Ontario. And Sara B herself was on the edge at the time they met her, kept afloat by two bilge pumps and “the tenuous force that owners of old wooden boats call “memory” that still held her aged timbers together.” 

That first season, Sara B’s owners considered their eBay purchase to be either a gift or a curse, depending on the day. “No matter whether it was a good or a bad day, our relationship with her had an intensity far beyond the norm for boats and boat owners. The frequent swings between euphoria (when we were sailing her) and despair (when we were working on her, which was most of the time) were wearing, to say the least.”

By 2011 there were half a dozen “associates” contributing time or money to Sara B’s upkeep and, eventually, the decision was reached to cover the classic woodie with fiberglass, creating a leak-free hull. They had qualms about doing so, but it cost less than 5% of what a traditional rebuild would have cost, and they went for it, figuring that Sara B, with her new cover of plastic, could well outlive them.

Susan intersperses Sara B’s story with forays into history: the HMS Ontario; Oswego, claimed to be the oldest freshwater port; New York’s waterfront and the Hudson; and the shipwrecks (and the wreck of a B24 bomber) in Mexico Bay on Lake Ontario. The book also features black and white pictures of the beautiful little schooner. It tells a good story, though it could benefit from some punctuation editing.

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Better Than Ever, Again

by Mitch Davies (Pensmith, 2011; 236 pages; $11.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

Sailors Wanted. Crew for South Pacific. No Experience Necessary.”

The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, newspaper ad stated no experience was necessary, but it seemed a bit odd to Ben Beck that any employer would be looking for crew members so far east. Still, he is intrigued and desperately needs a job. So with romantic images of swaying palm trees and turquoise water dancing in his head, he decides to apply – and
takes what appears to be a dream job crewing on a luxury sailing yacht.

The rich owner of the yacht, Carl, tells Ben during his interview that he has not been using his sailboat for a year and has decided to use it as a tour boat in the South Pacific and then sell it to make a profit. All Ben has to do is crew on the yacht for a year, all expenses paid, and then, when the boat is sold, he will receive 5% of the proceeds. Wondering if it is a too-good-to-be-true opportunity, Ben shakes off his doubts and jumps in head first, accepting the job.

Ben then embarks on a strange journey, beginning with an off-the-beaten track drive to Las Vegas, a plane ride to Orange County Airport (California) and, finally, a drive to Huntington Beach, where the yacht is moored. He meets an unusual collection of coworkers: Carl’s “hostess” and “personal assistant,” Purrette, (or Miss Malloy for formal occasions); Rudy, whose job description for the project Ben can’t figure out (as he knows nothing about boats and continually picks a fight); and Duane, the Captain of the 90-foot Aurawind.

Before he even leaves Las Vegas, and every stop along the way, Ben has misgivings about the legitimacy of his dream job.

“These are the people I work with. Give it to Vegas and then decide again; that won’t be too late to turn back.”

Crewing on the Aurawind, Ben finds himself cruising to Catalina, Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand. Most of the tourists Carl sets up to sail appear to be looking to invest in a fleet of yachts and Ben wonders if the story he was originally told by Carl is what is really going on. Nothing seems to be as he’s been led to believe and none of his coworkers will answer any questions about the nature of the business. Nevertheless, he is enjoying crewing and cruising so he stays on.

Eventually, Ben finds out what is really going on, but it is too late for him to escape. He finds out just what his boss and coworkers are willing to do to keep their secrets. His too-good-to-be true dream job becomes a very real nightmare — and at times it looks like he may not wake up.

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Sailing – Philosophy for Everyone:
Catching the Drift of Why We Sail

Edited by Patrick Goold (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012; 216 pages; $19.95 ($10.93, Kindle edition)
Review by John Butte,
Lopez Island, Washington

In Catching the Drift of Why We Sail, editor Patrick Goold has assembled a wide-ranging group of essays written by an impressive array of authors, from sailing-savvy academicians to racing and cruising sailors. While Goold attempts to group these fifteen essays under four headings with (to me) rather unapproachable titles (like the title of Part 1, “Passing through Pain And Fear In The Place Of Perpetual Undulation”), I found it more rewarding to read them indiscriminately as stand-alone reflections.

Using words like “flow,” “fulfillment,” “losing oneself” and “meeting the challenge,” some of these authors seek to help the reader appreciate the state of mind of the sailor who may occasionally achieve a zenith moment while sailing. One author will experience this rush in a moment of “unconscious” balance and perfection on his windsurfer board; another will achieve a “Zen-like focus” in the “fine art” of perfecting harmony and consonance among the forces acting on his sailboat.

But in the words of one author, while “sailing can be beautiful … it can (also) be awe-full,” dangerous and life-threatening. While that author meant the word “awe-full” in a cautiously positive sense, a recurring theme in many of the essays is the huge danger faced by sailors throughout maritime history. Perhaps because the authors are predominantly academic philosophers, the theme of dealing with the psychological effects of the dangers inherent in venturing onto an alien element seems to permeate many of these writings. The essays often refer to the ways in which thinkers, including the ancient Greek philosophers, current Zen practitioners, and even Christian Bible authors, have dealt with such threats.

For the more practical minded, Goold includes, for example, an essay on racing attitudes and tactics by prominent, winning racer Gary Jobson; an insightful moment-by-moment ride-along on a Chicago-to-Mackinaw race and even glimpses into the mindsets of Robin Knox Johnson and Bernard Moitessier during their first-ever solo circumnavigation race (including the thinking of the latter when he famously forsook the race finish and just kept on sailing).

Also assembled in this compendium are some practical lessons. For instance, authors Gregory and Tod Bassham urge us to practice what they call “negative visualization.” That is, getting in the habit of imagining the loss of each of the elements we commonly associate with an enjoyable sail — “good health, sound boat, pleasant weather, and so on.” Imagining what we’d do in each of these circumstances both increases our safety margin and reduces our fear.

I particularly appreciated the Basshams’ expanding upon sailing’s tendency to increase man’s awareness and appreciation of his “agency” in life. That is, “understanding the fine lines between what we can control, what we can influence but not control, and the vast world that is beyond our control.”

Goold even includes an entire essay on the physics of sailing in which the author explains, first verbally and then with extensive formulae, the physics behind the answers to common questions like: How can a sailboat sail into the wind? Faster than the wind? And can a sailboat make its own wind?

I confess that my first impression of this book was less than positive. On page 2 I discovered that it is the latest in a series of volumes collectively entitled “Philosophy For Everyone,” edited by Western Michigan University philosophy professor Fritz Allhoff. Numbering over twenty to date, the subjects in this series of books could hardly vary more widely. Asserting that “every activity is a possible subject for philosophical reflection,” Allhoff’s book series has thus far explored subjects ranging from running to college sex, Christmas to porn, motherhood to cannabis. The initial impression is of yet another opportunist seeking a niche market, as in the ubiquitous DIY series, “(you name it)” For Dummies.

But I recommend the book. While I found Goold’s collection of essays somewhat disjointed as a whole; taken individually, many of them are rich and thought provoking. I resonated with several of the authors’ colorful word pictures and thoughtful discussions of the expanded consciousness available in the experience of sailing.

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You Can Do It; Inspiration &
Lessons from an Inventor, Entrepreneur, & Sailor

By Stanley A. Dashew and Joseph S. Klus (Constellation Press, 2010; 275 pages; $14.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon,
Antigo, Wisconsin

I recently opened my latest issue of Time and saw on their Milestones page that Stanley Dashew passed away at the age of 96. As a young man growing up during the Great Depression, Dashew started a number of small business endeavors, several of which were successful, and some that were not. As an adult he continued to explore business opportunities and, according to Time, ended up holding 40 patents. Perhaps his most visible invention was the machine that embosses those numbers we all have on our credit cards. In his 90s, Dashew wrote You Can Do It; Inspiration & Lessons from an Inventor, Entrepreneur, & Sailor to help motivate people to follow their dreams and pursuits with the same passion he did. And by adhering to his “you can do it” attitude, he tells us that the chances of success are still pretty high, in spite of our current political and economic climate.

The book is supposed to be a motivational piece, but I found it to be more of an autobiography. Dashew writes about how he got started, some of his early successes and failures in the professional and personal arenas, and some of his sailing exploits, which is why the book is being reviewed here, although the sailing is a minor portion of the book. On virtually every page there is a little box with some witticism from Dashew meant to encourage, inspire, and advise. For example, in business matters: “Don’t shy away from challenges that seem beyond your abilities. Stretch yourself, and try. You may fail. But if you do not try at all, you are sure to fail.” In his personal life he learned that “Love, in our society, is often treated as a disposable commodity. It is not. When you find love, do not hesitate to move mountains to merge your lives together.” These sound like common sense, but it’s worthwhile to hear them from time to time.

If you’re looking for a real page-turner, with adventure around every corner, this book won’t do it for you. But if you want to learn how one man succeeded by trying, and trying again, you’ll find something worthwhile here. Although the writing is somewhat dry, the book may prove to be a worthwhile look into the mind of one of the premier inventors of the twentieth century.

Editor’s note:
Stanley Dashew, inventor and sailor, should not be confused with his son, Steve Dashew, the designer of a number of sailboats. Wikipedia states:

Shortly after marrying Martha Grossman in March 1938, Dashew took an interest in sailboat ownership and cruising. At the same time, from the late 1940s to early 1950s, he started writing short magazine articles about the sailor’s skills and travels, published in magazines such as Outdoor Life and Motor Boating & Sailing. In 1949, he and Martha outfitted a 76-foot schooner, Constellation, and set sail with their young family. They sailed from the Great Lakes, up the St. Lawrence Seaway, down the East Coast, through the Caribbean and West Indies, through the Panama Canal, and up the Mexican Pacific to finally arrive and settle in Los Angeles, California. Their voyage was notable — making headlines across the Americas — because of its duration, the tall ship’s masts and sails, their visit to a Haitian voodoo ceremony, and the fact that crew included their seven-year old son, Skip (Stephen), and their three-month-old baby daughter, Leslie.

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MoonWind at Large: Sailing Hither and Yon

By Constant Waterman, aka Matthew Goldman (Breakaway Books, 2012, 296 pages, $14.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon,
Antigo, Wisconsin

During the off season I read to wile away the hours, days, weeks, and months until I can once again feel the deck moving under my feet, the spray on my face, and hear the wind and waves press against the boat. During the sailing season I read for motivation to pull away from the marina and head out for the horizon to see what’s on the other side. In MoonWind at Large: Sailing Hither and Yon, Constant Waterman has given me something for all seasons.

MoonWind, Waterman’s 26-foot Chris-Craft Pawnee, designed by Sparkman & Stephens, is probably similar to what many of the rest of us own — a simple, relatively small but sturdy vessel that helps us find our hidden Slocum or Magellan. His book is an account of some of his own adventures, and misadventures, as he plies the waters and ports of southern New England in search of his own hidden explorer. The stories can be read in the order they appear for a chronological record of his travels, or in no particular order at all, but it’s a pleasure and a treasure either way. In addition to his expertise as a raconteur, Waterman is an accomplished illustrator and the book is sprinkled with several dozen pen-and-ink sketches of places he’s visited (physically and in his mind’s eye), maps of his cruising territory, and vessels and critters he’s encountered.

I would imagine that many of us who do a lot of reading have probably thought about writing a book at some point. We think, “I can do that,” and some of us do, while many more of us are still wannabes. Waterman has done it several times with at least five books to his credit and, according to the bio page at the end of Moon Wind, works of “drama, poetry, comedy, and farce.” As of now my personal muse is still incubating, but if she ever wakes up, this is the kind of work I’d be proud to put on my list of accomplishments. In the meantime I’ll be content to read what others write, and keep this particular volume close at hand. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SAILING & SEAMANSHIP

by Twain Braden, with illustrations by Sam Manning (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 189 pages; $16.95 ($9.99 Kindle, $10.49 Nook)
Review by Bob Wood
Angola, New York

This Complete Guide just might surprise the word-weary voyager. Described as “An illustrated guide for beginner and expert alike,” a cursory glance could relegate it to the shelf of innumerable other books on learning to sail. That would be a mistake.

Like a buffet of information, what the reader finds in this book . . . and what they take away . . . is directly related to what interests bring them to the table. This is truly an enjoyable feast of a read for every sailor of any skill level.

Not only enjoyable but logical, understandable, and filled with real substance, the Complete Guide is that rare medley of artful words and well-crafted content to be consulted time and again. The forces that drive a sailboat are explained along with the techniques to accomplish them. How techniques evolved through painfully acquired knowledge and tradition is explained. Examples are offered from the author's experiences as well as sailing giants like Pardey and Chapelle. Illustrations are clear and invaluable.

Equally important are threads of the author's philosophy that weave through this unique book, contributing to a cohesive work. One is that the essence of sailing is a mindset different from life ashore. It is the acceptance of the wonderful yet unforgiving water world and the required outlook to become part of it.

A second thread is that all sailing is local. Sailors should understand that conditions and the necessary preparations for cruising or racing off New England are vastly different from Chesapeake Bay, which is different from Bora Bora.

There is very little to fault with this book. I would perhaps disagree with radar being the most essential of electronics aboard a small sailboat. But if I were sailing off the Maine coast, as the author does, my priorities might change. The only handicap could be its size. At 8 ½ by 11 inches, it may exclude itself from many small boat bookshelves.

This is a solid treatise on a very large topic. It handles an amazing amount of detail and explanation in a concise and readable manner. And upon second thought, you can always stow this jewel in the chart drawer. The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship: don't leave port without it.

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A SWIM: THE RHODE ISLANDER WHO REFUSED TO DROWN

by John K. Fulweiler, Jr. (Flood Tide Press, 2013, 75 pages; $12.99 on Amazon.com)
Review by Tom Lochhaas
Newburyport, Massachusetts

This small book is the story of Joe, a Rhode Island fisherman who not long ago fell off his boat and treaded water and swam for 11 hours in the cold Atlantic before being rescued. No spoiler alert needed here: you know from the book’s cover what it’s about. It’s not written as a tale of suspense, which would have been unlikely anyway once you know it doesn’t end in a drowning.

Nor is it a deeply psychological story, page after page of what it was like to be in cold water at night for all those hours, your life flashing or spooling endlessly before your eyes, every mental and bodily response minutely detailed.

Still, there is the drama of perseverance and some of the psychology. Mostly, however, it’s a detailed account of the incident itself, including wide-ranging information about fishing, the Coast Guard, Joe’s family members and others, and one man’s character — surrounded by a broad context of how drownings occur, what the sea is like, and much more, with cross-cutting between the main story and matters on shore, among the Coast Guard men in their search, and his wife’s worries.

What I like best about A Swim is its lack of romanticism: the author glorifies nothing in the tale and pulls no punches to ensure we like Joe. Joe is described as drinking beer during several of the interviews, and he doesn’t claim any life-changing revelations from the experience. He admits to certain stupidities. He seems totally honest when he describes what happened and what he did. Remember the heroics of George Clooney in the movie version of The Perfect Storm? That’s not our Joe here. You might end up not even liking the guy enough to invite him on your own boat, but you’ll learn something from his story nonetheless. Similarly, we see the personalities of the Coasties, who ultimately saved him, as individuals, not guardian angels.

So what do we gain from this little book besides the joy of reading about someone else’s torment and being glad it’s not us? Wear your life jacket! Make a real effort to stay on the boat! Have a submersible VHF on your belt! Interestingly, these are not the author’s own “lessons” at the end of the story. He focuses on some other interesting psychological and sociological observations about character — that you really must depend on yourself in survival situations, that in the end we are all pretty much on our own, that this man survived the situation based on his “grit” and calm determination. I don’t dispute this at all, but I personally would like to have seen a little more emphasis on how he could easily have prevented the disaster from occurring rather than perhaps implying, for some readers, that if you have true grit and determination, you will survive. What if this fisherman had been a few miles further out? What if his boat hadn’t run aground by itself in a place where it was seen and reported empty to the authorities? I doubt all the grit in the world would have saved him then, and I guess we’d have a very different moral to the story. So maybe the real “lesson” of the book is there regardless of what its author tells us.

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CHANCE ALONG

by Christina & Kirby Salisbury (Biama Books, 2013, 311 pages; $15.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Lake Shore, Minnesota

Christina and Kirby Salisbury’s book is their love story with Belize and with Chance Along, the boat they built on her shores. The couple shares the telling of the story in alternate chapters. It is well written and accompanied by plenty of photographs, including one of the boa constrictor they found one morning wrapped around their bobstay!

The book is divided into two sections. The first two-thirds of the story — Chisels, Chips & Creativity — details the building of the wooden schooner with the ferrocement shoe. The second portion — Saltwater, Sailing & Sunsets — tells about life after launch and the people Kirby and Christina met along their way. The book is more about the building of Chance Along and the creativity of the couple in financing their venture through woodworking and chartering than it is about sailing itself. Detailed descriptions bring both the birth of the boat and the culture around them to vivid life.

Kirby’s prediction for both building costs and estimated launch date evolved throughout the lengthy process. In wanting to live on the water they were seeking simplicity, but found there was nothing simple about boatbuilding itself, nor in trying to finance it. Their timeline was highly unrealistic, but the challenges that faced the couple only brought them closer together. The tension builds as the boat nears completion with the need to have the boat ready to float before the rainy season begins and the dilemma of how to get the boat to the water.

The pair have spent 40 years sailing the waters of Belize, and the publication of this book celebrates Chance Along’s 25th anniversary. Christina and Kirby still live aboard this beautiful schooner they built from the bottom up.

It’s a great read for those interested in wooden boats, boatbuilding, and Belize.

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THE SINKING OF THE BOUNTY

by Matthew Shaer (“The Atavist,” Issue No. 22, February 2013, $1.99. Available at Atavist.com via the Atavist iOS app or Web reader; Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBookstore versions are also available.)
Review by James Williams
St. Petersburg, Florida

Journalist and writer Matthew Shaer offers a short but interesting and well-written account of the 2012 loss of the Bounty, a replica of the British vessel of the same name whose crew famously mutinied in 1789. In what is now considered a most controversial decision, Bounty’s veteran captain, Robin Walbridge, took Bounty to sea from New London, Connecticut, on October 25, just as Hurricane Sandy was drifting northward off the east coast of Florida. New London’s crowded port, thought Walbridge, would give Bounty no “sea room.” Therefore, adhering to the old adage “Always safer at sea than at anchor,” he sailed southeast to put Bounty windward of  the slow-moving Sandy, which he and his crew all assumed would be turning landward around North Carolina. Four days later, Bounty was at the bottom of the Atlantic, Walbridge and one crew member were dead, and the other fourteen were in Coast Guard helicopters on their way to Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Shaer constructs his tale around brief stories of the crew: Josh Sconavacchi, 25, an adventurer and one of three who twice climbed the foremast in the midst of the hurricane to furl the ripped forecourse (the lowest sail on the foremast); Chris Barksdale, the ship’s engineer who struggled with the failing bilge pumps; Doug Faunt, a retired computer engineer and volunteer crew member; and Claudene Christian, who perished in the Atlantic with the captain and who had long been told she was a descendent of Fletcher Christian, leader of the 1789 mutiny on the original Bounty. It’s a tale of chutzpah and imprudent seamanship, of a captain whose bravado lost his ship and almost lost the crew who trusted him implicitly.

He also addresses whether the Bounty should even have been taken to sea. Crewman Faunt described her as “very much a work in progress,” a ship in subpar condition with dry rot throughout her framing and very-much-deferred maintenance. The HMS Bounty Foundation and Bounty’s owner, Robert Hansen, seemed unable to provide the funds necessary to keep her in good repair and the captain misjudged or ignored how badly degraded she was. But Walbridge was experienced. He’d taken Bounty through gales before. John Svendsen, the 41-year-old first mate, said of the captain: “I never witnessed Robin seeking out a storm. If there was a storm, he would put the ship in the safest position.” Walbridge’s plan to put Bounty in the hurricane’s southeast quadrant was theoretically correct but, in terms of Sandy — 1,000 miles across — dead wrong. He sailed Bounty directly into the maw of the hurricane. Much of the story, with Coast Guard videos embedded in the eBook, is of the rescue itself and the harrowing experiences of the crew. And it is well told, indeed.

Unfortunately, Shaer’s tale suffers from a glaring geographical error. In dealing with Bounty’s itinerary, in Chapter 2, the author notes that Bounty left Connecticut bound for Florida with a mid-November ETA, which allowed for making a tour appointment in St. Petersburg and “a pit stop in Key West for the crew.” Does this sound a little odd? Then, “Bounty would sail around the tip of Florida, across the Gulf of Mexico, and into Galveston, Texas, where she’d put up for the winter.” What happened to St. Petersburg? Where is St. Petersburg? Surely, I thought as I read this, Shaer doesn’t think St. Petersburg is between Connecticut and Key West! But, alas, he apparently does, for in Chapter 5, in describing Walbridge’s pinpointing Bounty’s position on the map on October 27 and then turning southwest toward the hurricane, Shaer writes: “Walbridge reasoned that … Bounty had made it out far enough beyond Sandy’s eye that if he steered inland again, the winds shipping counterclockwise out along the margins of the storm would help propel the ship to St. Petersburg.” When an author makes such a basic error, readers ought to wonder about the author’s overall reliability. And this is a shame, because the story of the Bounty is a good one.

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THE CRASH TEST BOAT: HOW YACHTING MONTHLY TOOK A 40-FOOT YACHT
THROUGH EIGHT DISASTER SCENARIOS

edited by Paul Gelder (Adlard Coles Nautical, 2013 — available September 5, 176 pages; $29.95; $9.69 Kindle, $9.49 Nook)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

A few readers in the U.S. and Canada read Yachting Monthly magazine, which is published in the United Kingdom. But if you missed their eight-month-long Crash Test Boat series last year, you will want to read the book about it. Yachting Monthly is my favorite British publication and I was alternately fascinated by the subject matter and in awe of those who made it happen.

First they acquired a boat, a 40-foot Jeanneau Sun Fizz ketch. Then they ran it aground for an article discussing groundings and methods of getting off, capsized it for an article about what happens in a capsize and how to secure things in the cabin, followed by a dismasting … you get the idea. After the dismasting, the next month’s article focused on the possible jury-rigs that will get you home. They sank it, caused serious leaks to test ways to plug them, and set off fires to practice putting them out. Are we having fun yet?

Finally, they caused a gas leak and subsequent explosion that blew off the cabintop. Since that was the most dramatic event and the grand finale, there’s a video of that event. You don’t want to miss this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxm3uMy6MPI. While they were at it, they made videos of the rest of the abuses they invented for this boat and posted them on YouTube. This book provides a handy QR code for videos of seven of the eight destructive tests. There were remote cameras inside, for example, when the boat capsized and when it exploded. That did it for me. I had to figure out how to scan QRCs on my iPad. I downloaded a free app and sallied forth.

Following the explosion, since the Crash Test Boat didn’t sink, they hauled off what was left of this poor abused sailboat to a boat show or two as a real show-stopper meant to cause people to consider safety practices on their own boats. Even Great Britain’s Princess Anne, a keen sailor, stopped by to see the Crash Test Boat and left with a thoughtful expression.

Mere humans created this series. What’s more, they were editors and authors and subject experts very much like the mortals at Good Old Boat. I know they were plenty busy with other projects and the daily grind of making a magazine happen. Some of them even have real lives beyond the magazine and sailing activities. They don’t walk on water. How then, were they able to pull off a feat like this every month?

The red tape alone would have dampened my resolve. In his introduction, Paul Gelder briefly describes the agencies that had to be informed and had to give their approval for every test. Appeasing every agency and bureaucrat was, no doubt, the most daunting task of all.

Each chapter in this book tells about the events and what was learned to make us all better sailors and boat owners, of course. But each also discusses how the destructive tests were accomplished: the setups and executions. Each includes equipment reviews where appropriate — equipment such as rig cutters or fire extinguishers — and also shares true-life stories of sailors whose boats were involved in similar disasters, whether it be sinking or fire aboard.

I wish they would have given bylines to the author of each article. I was not sure whether all articles (chapters) were written by the same individual or not. But it’s disconcerting to have the information presented in the first person singular as “I did this” or “I thought that” without knowing which of the team members did or thought such and such. Some of the British expressions, such as the “head torch” someone wore during one of the tests, will stop you cold for a moment until you realize that these folks speak the King’s English and we speak whatever it is that we speak, and it doesn’t include head torches when we mean flashlights on ball caps or elastic bands.

Sailors often say we should do a man-overboard drill on our own boats. Some of us actually do run a practice MOB event from time to time. But none of us is willing to run a practice grounding, capsize, dismasting, jury-rig, sinking, leaking, fire, or explosion. We must read about these events and take measures to avoid them on our boats based on what we learn in this way. We should be very grateful that a whole team of individuals at Yachting Monthly — editors and authors, subject experts, and members of the regulatory agencies, heroes each and every one — took the time and trouble to run the events, record what they learned, and share it with the rest of us.

All we have to do now is buy the book and read it. I highly recommend that you take that action. This book is an eye-opener.

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COYOTE LOST AT SEA: THE STORY OF MIKE PLANT,
AMERICA’S DARING SOLO CIRCUMNAVIGATOR

By Julia Plant (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 2013; 256 pages; $25.00; $11.99 Kindle; $13.99 Nook)
Review by Kim Ode
Minneapolis, Minnesota

When Mike Plant was 8, he learned to sail on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. By 11, he’d designed and built his own boat. By 14, he was hiding bottles of bourbon. By 25, he was on the run for drug smuggling.

We learn this by way of Julia Plant, whose book about her older brother is, while no rose-colored memorial, still imbued with affection.

Plant was an internationally renowned sailor who died at 41, washed overboard in the North Atlantic sailing to his fourth solo race around the world. His sister recounts the less-than-heroic facts of his life with a pragmatism he’d likely have appreciated. Not that he’d admit it.

In an especially cogent passage, she writes of Plant’s failure to thank friends and family when they sprang him from a Portuguese prison: “Mike said nothing,” she wrote. “Thanking people meant acknowledging that he had screwed up, and he didn’t want to do that.”

You want to smack him, yet not hard enough that he can’t raise a sail. The chapters about racing the southern oceans, drawn from his journals and radio transmissions, are spellbinding.

Sailors who followed his circumnavigations likely never caught a whiff that he was anything less than a boyishly handsome daredevil. His sister, writing because “he truly was the most alive person I had ever known,” said the book took 20 years because she was afraid to embrace “the parts that showed what a schmuck he had been at times.”

The result is a credible account that leaves you admiring his tenacity, his skills, his respect for fellow sailors and, in the end, his relationship with himself. The risks he took, whether driven by lack of money or his own demons, cost him. Yet Julia Plant resists suggesting there’s a lesson here, because only a thimbleful of people live such a life.

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TIGHTWADS ON THE LOOSE: A SEVEN-YEAR PACIFIC ODYSSEY

BY WENDY HINMAN (SALSA PRESS, 2012, 374 PAGES; $14.95, $5.99 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT

Neither a “How to go cruising” book, nor a “Fiji on fifty cents a day” book, Wendy Hinman’s Tightwads on the Loose is a great read. It tells the tale of experiencing “vastly divergent cultures, frolicking in waterfalls, and snorkeling in pristine aquamarine waters” in the South Pacific. It also tells how Hinman and her husband, Garth, pursued the path of World War II history as they made landfall in Saipan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa, and Nagasaki. They hadn’t intentionally planned to follow the trail of armed conflict in the Pacific, but were pleased that their mid-cruise decision to sail to Japan would trace those historical events.

The transition point in their 34,000-mile odyssey, between snorkeling those pristine depths filled with ocean life and diving on World War II wrecks, came after four years of sailing when they had a major equipment meltdown in the Solomon Islands and took two years off to work at the U.S. Army base at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. So while they spent seven years sailing, they were actually gone from Seattle for nine years.

Wendy says that she learned that the cruising lifestyle brings emotional highs that are higher and lows that are lower than those she’d ever felt ashore. She was the adventure seeker, the one who needed to see and try everything at every port. When Garth grew weary of life as a perpetual traveler, she still wanted to sail their 31-foot boat around the world. She returned reluctantly from the water.

Wendy’s new adventure became telling the story of their journey, and she has done a wonderful job. This is a great read accompanied by a map, a glossary for those unfamiliar with sailboats, and fifteen pages of photos. One only wishes there were more pictures and more stories!

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ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOON

BY MICHAEL C. HURLEY (CENTER STREET, 2013; 288 PAGES; $19.99; $8.89 KINDLE; $9.99 NOOK)
REVIEW BY SUSAN LYNN KINGSBURY

“My decision to embark had been the final expression of a boy’s will that his life should find some deeper meaning.”

In his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, Michael C. Hurley shares his deepest feelings of sorrow and longing as well as the discoveries of joy, dreams, and love realized during his passage. This is not a coming-of-age story but the story of a man searching his soul to find what is worth saving. He opens his heart and bears all, causing readers to feel the emotions of his words.

Recently divorced, jobless, and desperate to find himself and redemption, 51-year-old Hurley sets out solo from Annapolis on a 1,000-mile journey to Nassau aboard his aging 32-foot sloop, Gypsy Moon. Although he admits that many thought him crazy, he believed that escaping his complex world was a way of focusing on finding out what was most important in life.

He writes of Gypsy Moon: “ … her worth to me was measured more in dreams than dollars. She was a magic carpet … my partner … a tangible reminder that, despite all that had occurred to make my life so much smaller, there was still a reason to dream big dreams … ”

As his personal journey begins, Hurley is lonely and self-doubting. After encountering his first storm, he realizes that it is time to commit to the voyage offshore — and he finds he is terrified to even start. But he is also determined to go on, and so the journey begins. He encounters many stops and starts and in no way does he experience smooth sailing.

While stopped in port to have repairs completed, through an online dating service Hurley connects with a woman who just happens to live near his next planned destination. After corresponding and finding they have much in common, he meets Susan, who becomes the love of his life and, later, his wife.

Hurley has his most traumatic experience during the last leg of his journey — sailing (again singlehanded) from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to Panama, a 1,000-mile passage via Cuba and Haiti. On the second day of his trip, he has a change of heart and decides instead go north to Miami — and then go home for good. He attempts to reach Susan, but his satellite phone won’t work well enough for him to tell her of his change of direction.

Then the wind and the wave conditions worsen. Hurley’s head is slammed against the cabin top, and he realizes too late that his sails need to be reefed. The jib halyard splits at the top of the mast and the jib collapses and things continue to go wrong. He finds himself dead in the water, some 300 miles from Jamaica and 600 miles from South America, with no jib sail or engine.

It seems a miracle when not one, but two, ships radio that they are near enough to save Hurley. Sadly, he has no choice in the end but to abandon Gypsy Moon, possibly the most difficult decision he makes throughout his over two-year journey.

Hurley’s writing prose is revealing and poetic, making his memoir a great read for those who go to sea, and those who only dream of going.

“A ship’s wake tells you where she has been, not where she is going.”

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Run Down the Wind

by Laurence Eubank (Wild Dog Press, 2013, 563 pages; $20.00; $9.99 ebook)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

With the publication of his first book, Laurence Eubank has created an epic historical novel and launched a very promising writing career. Run Down the Wind intertwines the real people and historical events of the mid-19th century with a cast of credible fictional characters who encounter the historical people and experience the actual events in a way that makes history fun and exciting. His descriptions of places and scenes are excellent and his ability to write convincing dialog (and dialects) is topnotch.

This book, encompassing the years 1851 to 1865, could easily have been split into three volumes. If you wonder what could possibly be so important about a period of just 14 years, consider that the clipper ships experienced a brief moment of glory during only nine years (1851 through 1860); that the American Civil War brewed, began, and finally bloodied all participants during those years; that California gold rush fever was upon the nation; that the rights of black Americans were an incredibly divisive issue of the time as were the demands of women suffragettes . . . and you have the tempestuous events that swept the characters, both real and fictional, along in their path.

Two of the characters are young boys who ship aboard the clipper ship Flying Cloud on her record-breaking trip in 1851 from New York to San Francisco in just under 90 days. They serve before the mast as the ship goes through Cape Horn storms and tropical heat to deliver fortune seekers and supplies to the rapidly growing gold rush community and then races across the Pacific to pick up tea in China before her return home. These two boys arrive home older in many ways and much wiser in the ways of trade, navigation, and reading and writing skills.

As they grow up, the young men make trades of their own, becoming relatively wealthy and creating a strong partnership and wonderful multi-ethnic families long before this was considered normal. Unfortunately, one of these young men is from the South and one is from the North with the problematic allegiances that set up brother against brother during that loathsome period of our history. Their separate struggles during the war and the eventual reunion of the two protagonists and their families will keep anyone flipping pages.

Author Laurence Eubank says he is considering a sequel. He would like to move the offspring of these fellows forward a century and do it all again. It is bound to be a terrific second book and another epic work. <http://www.rundownthewind.com/>.

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A Thousand Miles From Anywhere

by Sandra Clayton (Adlard Coles Nautical, 2013; 287 pages; 13.95, $10.49 eBook)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Port Ludlow, Washington

A Thousand Miles From Anywhere is Sandra Clayton’s third book chronicling her passages with her husband David aboard Voyager, a cruising catamaran built by Solaris Yachts.

The author provides readers with an extremely detailed and exceptionally imaginative visual account of crossing the Atlantic, sailing the Madeira Islands, the Canary Islands, and the Caribbean before finally reaching the southeastern coast of North America (Florida).

Readers see everything through her viewpoint, and feel, smell, taste, and hear the details of the journey as though they are along for the ride.

Madeira . . . Its coastline is striking as you approach because the island is a volcano. . . Fora, the large rock at its eastern corner, with St Laurence’s lighthouse perched on it, rises steeply to a point. This white lighthouse gives every appearance of having been iced onto the top, like a bride on a wedding cake, with the white icing running downhill to cover . . . the tiny summit.

At times readers will imagine that they are reading straight from Clayton’s log book, and that they are on the journey with the Claytons, right there in the cockpit, onboard Voyager.

“. . . twenty days since leaving the Cape Verde Islands we have covered 2,255 nautical miles . . . saw only seven ships. . . one yacht . . . averaged 4.7 knots. Since leaving England seventeen months ago…we travelled 7,600 miles. We have a light meal and are asleep by 6pm.”

Weathering gale winds and planning around the Atlantic hurricane season is another concern for the Claytons and much planning is required. Sometimes, no matter how prepared they are, communication quandaries throw a monkey wrench into their plans to sightsee.

The Claytons experience numerous encounters with creatures of the sea.

“When David wakes me . . . for my second watch of the night, he says that as he left the cockpit he could hear a whale breathing.”

Clayton explains to readers that this is very troubling because if you can hear a whale breathing, they are very close, on top of the water, and possibly asleep! What if the whale wakes up and rams the boat? She explains that this is just another one of many possibilities cruisers encounter while crossing the open ocean at night.

Later, as they cross the Atlantic, a dark gray 25-foot male Minke whale “visits” Voyager and her crew bodysurfing, rolling onto his back and then swimming under the catamaran. Again and again he repeats his “dance,” as Clayton writes, “having a whale of a time.”

Included in the book are charts of the journey, information on the Beaufort Wind Force Scale and a glossary of terms for non-sailors. These additions make A Thousand Miles From Anywhere an appealing read for sailors, armchair sailors, and novices.

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Legends and Lore of Lake Ontario

by Susan Peterson Gateley (History Press, 2013, 128 pages; $14.99, $9.99 ebook)
Review by Don Davies
Toronto, Ontario

I suppose every sailor has experienced it —those frustrating times when it seems the gods conspire to keep him or her at the dock. For me it had been several weeks of lawns to cut, gutters to clean, drains to snake, anniversaries that must be attended, grandchildren to be entertained, and on and on — always something to prevent me from getting out on the lake and letting the wind and waves take me to a peace of mind that only the helm of a good old boat can bring. And so it was, with steeled determination, I swore that nothing — hell-fire, hurricanes, or hollering guilt-trips — would prevent me from slipping those mooring lines and heading out to open water.

However, as I stood in the cockpit staring skyward at the flags hanging motionless from the pole atop the clubhouse, I faced a difficult decision. Should I stubbornly keep my promise to myself and motor out to bob around a glassy expanse, or accept that once again the gods were laughing at my mortal plight?

The day was gray with heavy moisture in the air. Fall had brought a bit of a chill to the air. I stepped below and put the kettle on for tea. Still wrestling with the conflict of decision-making, my eyes descended on the cover of a book sitting prominent in the rack—Legends and Lore of Lake Ontario by Susan Peterson Gateley. As steam began to rise from the kettle, the thin book seemed perfect, a small literary commitment in case the weather changed and I might still be able to hoist a sail instead of a cup of tea. I grabbed a plush pillow from the V-berth, made my tea, and stretched out on the settee to skim through a few pages, mourning what looked to be a wasted day.

I’m not much for ghosts and it would appear that Susan Peterson Gateley shares my cynicism. However, as she slowly enticed me in with multiple witnesses and documented collaborations, the logical explanations became somehow less logical. Sailors lost at sea in violent storms appearing ashore years later . . . ashen, disheveled, in soaking clothes, staring blankly at astonished beach wanderers before fading into the horizon. Visages of long-ago murder victims appearing in lighthouses. Or the phantom spirit of a soldier who walks the ramparts at Fort Ontario and has been seen clearly by several sentries, particularly before the nation goes to war. There are those who believe it to be the ghost of Lieutenant Basil Dunbar, who served during the French and Indian Wars. He’s said to have fallen in love with his commanding officer’s wife with disastrous results. A duel ensued, which Dunbar lost, and now his spirit lurks about the ramparts to beguile the young recruits of today. For myself, I couldn’t help thinking that the lady in question might have selected a lover who was a better fighter . . . or perhaps a husband who was a better lover.

I had no time to ponder the question further because the author quickly moved on to tales of monsters and mysteries that abound — a captain and crew who swore they cut a fifty-foot sea monster in half with their hull as it slept on the water’s surface. Each half then swam away.

I read of weather abnormalities that can create visions and mirages that confound and frighten, and ships that have disappeared without a trace with no logical explanation for their demise.

The afternoon was wasting away as I lay reading. But rather than checking the weather, I arose only to fortify myself with something a bit stronger than tea and settled back down to read more. And there was more . . .  so much more. Sea battles, captured ships, goods smuggled back and forth across the lake both in days gone by and today when drugs, cigarettes, and human cargo are found by border patrol agents. In the final chapters, Susan chronicles the saga of what she calls “Lake Ontario’s Legendary Trio” — the Sturgeon, the Silver Salmon, and the American Eel. With knowledge gained from her years as a fisheries biologist she tells of an aquatic species that pre-dates the dinosaurs and can grow to 300 pounds over a 150-year life span, a time when salmon in Lake Ontario were so numerous that farmers could stand in a river and spear hundreds in a night with pitchforks as they returned to their spawning grounds, and eels that live more than a hundred years and swim over 3,700 miles from Lake Ontario to Bermuda to spawn before dying. All still swim beneath the waters of Lake Ontario, but with climate change, pollution, and the introduction of foreign species, who knows for how much longer?

When I finished, it was dark. The boat swung gently at her lines. I had not gone sailing, but my spirit was calm and I couldn’t help but think, “There should be more wasted days like this.”

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AnchorGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway

(ICW), 2 vols. by Captains Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications, 2012; Vol. 1, Norfolk, VA, to Beaufort, SC, 134 pages, $29.95; Vol. 2, Hilton Head, SC, to Miami, FL, 140 pages, $29.95).
Review by James Williams
Charlotte Harbor, Florida

In the 1980s, development of the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) launched a revolution in marine navigation. Following Magellan Navigation’s first commercial handheld GPS in 1989, a plethora of GPS-based charting systems came to market. Computer-based charting is now so ubiquitous that many boaters see paper charts as antiquated, a view testified to by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent announcement that, as of April 2014, it will no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts, but it will provide electronic and digital charts. (For traditionalists, it will print paper charts on-demand.) 

Yet, although electronic charting seems to have turned the nautical world upside down, we are still in a transitional stage, and the demand among boaters for paper charts and cruising guides continues to flourish. The heavily traveled Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and related waterways is the subject of several chart books and guides, and most of them are offered in both paper and/or digital format. Maptech offers dozens of chart books and guides, and Dozier’s Waterway Guide sells several guides (a 2014 edition of the Atlantic ICW guide is forthcoming), as well as chart books. John and Leslie Kettlewell’s long popular Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook Norfolk to Miami is now in its 6th edition (2012), Skipper Bob’s Anchorages Along the Intracoastal Waterway (now owned by Dozier’s) is in its 18th edition, and a new Great Book of Anchorages for the ICW was published in 2012 by past editors of Dozier’s. The two-volume ICW anchorage guide under review here is the sixth title to come from Mark and Diana Doyle’s own semi-local publications LLC.

Ann Dermody, in BoatUS magazine (February 2011), described Mark and Diana Doyle’s life as “a marriage made on the water.” They met at a New Hampshire marina, each hold USCG Master Licenses. They have cruised together for over a decade. Their first ICW cruising guide, Managing the Waterway, appeared in 2005. As an extra offering, they began selling two CDs containing U.S. raster and vector charts, which NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers distribute free of charge. Displaying both their cruising guide and CDs at boat shows, they soon gathered a good following of boaters who took advantage of the online updates to the cruising guide and annual updates of the chart CDs. By 2009, the Doyles had published a second cruising guide, for the Florida Keys; updated and revised Managing the Waterway under the new title CruiseGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway; and published the first of a planned two-volume chart guide for the great loop. To enhance their computer charting CDs, they included with the charts free and trial e-charting software and reference materials, and in 2008 they published Get Onboard with E-Charting, advertised as “a complete reference guide to electronic charting and PC-based marine navigation.”

Mark and Diana’s latest offering, AnchorGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), is representative of nautical charting’s transitional stage. It uses 5½ x 7-inch computer screenshots of raster charts for each anchorage, most of which are overscale. Each anchorage chart has its own full page and is annotated to show marinas, boat ramps, hazards, bridges, and such. Each page is headed by the anchorage name, ICW statute mile, longitude and latitude, and a compass rose showing wind protection. If the anchorage is near a tide station, a tidal graph is at the top of the page, which shows the depth when the Mark and Diana actually anchored there. Under the chart itself is a brief summary of the anchorage along with useful data: distance off the ICW, depth, nearest tide station, wind protection, scenic quality, roominess for boats, shore access, availability of shopping, and taking dogs ashore. The back cover has a useful guide to the information available on each chart page.

The single most interesting feature of the charts in this anchorage guide is that the Doyles actually surveyed depths in the anchorage and its approach, marking them on the chart with a calibrated depth-sounder linked to their computer. A “digital bread-crumb trail” of depths starts where they left the ICW and marks their path into the anchorage. It shows precisely where they anchored, then traces their departure path back to the ICW. For anchorages where chart depths are spotty, this trail of actual depths is helpful. One can see on a number of their anchorage charts where the official chart MLLW depth indicates a shallower depth, perhaps as much as three feet, than the Doyle’s actual reading.

Every chart book, anchorage guide, and cruising guide, however, has its shortcomings. While the annotated depth tracks are a very attractive feature of the AnchorGuide, the oversized charts tend to be a bit blurred and, occasionally, annotations on the charts obscure navigation information on the actual chart. Information for each anchorage is good, but the data sections lack any indication of the bottom type (sand, mud, grass). The charts themselves begin at Hampton Roads and follow by statute mile on through to Miami, but there is no index, no table of contents, and anchorage chart pages do not indicate the state in which the anchorage lies. Thus, overall route planning using the AnchorGuide is hampered; one probably will need to use a full-size ICW chart to figure out exactly where anchorages in the guide are located along the route. Compared to Kettlewell’s Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook, this is a real flaw.

In the end, I just wonder how much more valuable the Doyle’s depth tracking into anchorages would be if they were overlaid onto a digital raster chart that one could actually follow in real time on a chart plotter. And, like the anchorage information on ActiveCaptain, all the other information could be brought to the screen through a text box. Perhaps this will be the logical evolution of the AnchorGuide from paper to e-charting.

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