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Those who enjoyed our recent three-part special report highlighting the trends in sailboat design and construction—focusing on structure, stability, and performance (February 2015, June 2015, and August 2015 respectively)— can thank technical editor Ralph Naranjo, who called upon his years of experience as a voyager, boatyard manager, and marine safety consultant to weave those pieces together. The articles offer a peek of what you’ll find in his outstanding opus, “The Art of Seamanship,” just published this spring and now available in the Practical Sailor bookstore online.
I’m obviously biased toward Ralph’s work, but you’ll find plenty of other experts saying that this is the best book on sailing seamanship to be published in decades—if ever. Although anyone headed offshore will benefit from Ralph’s wisdom, it is aimed squarely at the sailor. It’s not a book for the novice tying his first bowline, or the yachtsman interested in flag etiquette. The topics Ralph addresses, particular those dealing with weather, anchoring, sail-handling, and navigation, are examined with a depth and insight that only come through years of experience.
Early into the book, Naranjo uses a simple diagram of a right triangle to demonstrate the three essential facets of safety at sea. The shortest side of the triangle is safety gear onboard, the next longest is the vessel’s seaworthiness, and the longest side, forming the hypotenuse of the triangle, is seamanship—sadly this is the element few books bother to address in detail. To someone with Ralph’s experience, the distribution of priorities is obvious. The best gear and best boat is no substitute for right practice, and hard-won sea sense.
Ralph’s brief introductory section—an entertaining walk down memory lane in boats ranging from Carl Alberg-designed Typhoon 19 to a Dodge Morgan’s American Promise—distills as much wisdom as you’ll find in some so called “encyclopedic” works (some on their tenth reprint!).
If you don’t yet have the book, buy it. Heck, buy two copies, one for the house, one for the boat. If it’s not as good as I say it is, Ralph will buy you a drink on Practical Sailor’s tab. My guess, is you’ll be the one wanting to treat him. You can find him at the following venues this autumn talking seamanship, safety, and no doubt, spinning a few yarns. For more details about the particular events and schedules check the websites.
Saturday, Sept. 12 - “Art of Seamanship”
Sunday, Sept. 13 - “Practical Sailor Tech Talk”
Oct. 11 & 12 - Afternoon book signing at Landfall Navigation booth.
Oct. 9, 10, & 11 - Take the wheel workshop.
Oct 12-15 - Cruisers University “Handling Heavy Weather”, “Gulf Stream”,
“Anchoring- the Art of Staying put”
TBA - Cruising World Seminars, “The Cruising Side of Seamanship.”