Books for Long Winter Nights

From the poetic to the practical, our short list has it all.


Winter is upon us and that means well have a little time to catch up on our reading. Heres a few of the books that caught our eye this year.

A Womans View

It is rare to find entertaining essays examining a womans relationship with the sea, or a work of fiction setting two teenage girls off on a sailing adventure. This year we get both. Writer Charlotte Runcies first novel Salt on Your Tongue (2019, Cannongate, 365 pgs., $24), does a wonderful job of combining the personal essay/memoir genre with a rich exploration of the history and mythology of the sea from a female perspective. Runcie, an award winning poet, lyrically meanders between seafaring legends and her own experiences along the British coast. Her stirring description of the British Isles will move the heart of any Anglophile, and her deep reflections on where she and other women in this seascape will inspire the reader to reflect upon his/her own place at sea.

Trish Doller does a great favor for parents and grandparents of young female sailors in Start Here, (2019, Simon Pulse, 352 pages, $15) a young-adult novel that sends two teeenage girls, Willa and Taylor, on an adventure on the Great Loop from Sandusky, Ohio to Key West. The catch? The trip is fulfilling a deathbed promise they made to their mutual best friend, the true connecting thread between them. As Willa and Taylor sail south and rebuild their already tenuous relationship, each girl also deal with personal dramas that no good coming of age story can do without.

Books for Long Winter Nights

For The Ocean Navigator

Author John Kretschmer brings his reflective voice, long history as a globe-trotting sailor, and tales of sailing adventure back to the bookshelf with Sailing to the Edge of Time, The Promise, the Challenges, and the Freedom of Ocean Voyaging (2018, Adlard Coles, 275 pgs., $28). If you are to buy one book from this list for your favorite shipmate, Kretschmers is the one. Apart from the expected sea stories of interesting people and colorful places, Kretschmer brings wit and wisdom that few voyaging authors can match. His ruminations on technology and seamanship alone are worth the cover price.

Almost every cruising how-to book contains at least some personal accounts from other sailors beside the authors. Paul Heineys broad look at the practicalities of cruising, Ocean Sailing (2019, Adlard Coles, 278 pgs. $35) takes this a step further, with a wealth of practical advice from members of three highly regarded cruising clubs the Royal Cruising Club, the Ocean Cruising Club, and the Cruising Club of America. Heiney presents the range of perspectives, allowing the reader to decide which of the many paths the various club members have charted (with kids, without kids, low budget, no budget, etc.) best suits their style.

Books for Long Winter Nights

Given the spate of accidents involving sailors who are overdependant on technology-even at the highest level of sailing‚ Duncan Wells Stress-free Navigation, Electronic and Traditional, (2019, Adlard Coles, 160 pages, 15 videos, $25) is long overdue. Well illustrated and organized, the book reminds us that old-school piloting skills (and handy shortcuts) are as valid as they ever were. Although the examples are set in the British Isles, this navigation primer is useful to sailors everywhere.


Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. 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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