The Bight Before Christmas


Being a lover of both boats and books, I’m always on the lookout for good stories about the sea. And being a father, I’m always happy to see a fun children’s book that reminds us of our connection with the ocean. If you have any favorites, please let me know. Here’s one that arrived recently at our office-just in time, it seems.

The Bight Before Christmas

Will Swagel, the engaging publisher of Sitka, Alaskas classified ad circular, The Sitka Soup (motto: Hearty Ingredients-Tasty Leftovers-A Dash of Silliness), has given the Christmas poem The Night Before Christmas, an Alaskan twist. Illustrated by former fisherman and local Sitka artist and musician Colin Herforth, “The Bight Before Christmas replaces reindeer with coho, hootchies, and humpies-and a glossary that explains what all of these are. It also introduces the bellyfish, which according to Swagel, is a made-up word because we needed a rhyme for jellyfish, which gives you an idea what kind of fun he and Herforth have with the original.

If youve done time in Alaska, are a closet fan of the 90s TV series Northern Exposure, or appreciate the idea of orca and cod towing around a scar-faced old tar in a skiff full of toys, then youll enjoy Swagell and Herforths take on Christmas. And if you like it, your kids will probably like it, too. The locally published book is sold online at Find more information about Swagel here.

If you’re still looking for some last-minute holiday gifts for the readers in your family, don’t forget we’ve got gift subscriptions to Practical Sailor, along with a some new e-books covering everything from life rafts to boat waxes. These are a great idea for new subscribers who’d rather not sift through the online archives for a selection of articles on a broad topic. Right now, we’ve got packages on “Survival at Sea” and “Marine Cleaners.” Upcoming e-books include sail-buying advice and man-overboard prevention.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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