Recommended Reading for Fans of Nautical Non-Fiction
From a marine-electronics troubleshooting guide to a world cruiser’s pilot book, these top-shelf reads from Practical Sailor’s contributors both entertain and inform—and all are great to curl up with on a cold winter day.
Practical Sailor contributors come from all walks of life. Some are cruisers. Some have circumnavigated. Some are renowned racers, and others still are boatyard owners or electronics gurus. Some write for us regularly. Others check in every 10,000 miles or so. But they all have one thing common: They know what they’re talking about. Each one, in his or her own right, is a trusted authority among the sailing crowd. You can tap into this Practical Sailor fountain of knowledge with each issue of Practical Sailor and by picking up one of the reviewed books written by our capable contributors: Beth Leonard’s “Blue Horizons, Dispatches From Distant Seas” and “The Voyager’s Handbook,” Ed Sherman’s “Advanced Marine Electrics and Electronics Traoubleshooting,” Andy O’Grady’s “Ocean Passages and Landfalls,” and John Rousmaniere’s “In a Class By Herself” and “A Berth to Bermuda.”
Practical Sailor contributors come from all walks of life. Some are cruisers. Some have circumnavigated. Some are renowned racers, and others still are boatyard owners or electronics gurus. Some write for us regularly. Others check in every 10,000 miles or so. But they all have one thing common: They know what they’re talking about.
Each one, in his or her own right, is a trusted authority among the sailing crowd. You can tap into this Practical Sailor fountain of knowledge with each issue of Practical Sailor and by picking up one of the following books written by our capable contributors.
Best known in the industry as the go-to guy for any marine electronics question related to the American Boat and Yacht Council standards, Edwin "Ed" Sherman is a senior staff writer and a marine-systems curriculum designer for the ABYC. He has authored or co-authored four marine electronics books, including "The Powerboater’s Guide to Electrical Systems" and the revision of Miner Brotherton’s "12-Volt Bible for Boats."
"Advanced Marine Electrics and Electronics Troubleshooting, A
Manual for Boatowners and Marine Technicians":If you don’t know the difference between AC and DC current or the definition of Ohm’s Law, then this book is not for you. Unlike Sherman’s earlier publications, this book is not for the beginner boatowner. It is geared toward to the professional marine technician and those boatowners with significant hands-on experience dealing with marine electronics or electrical systems. If your boat’s electrical/electronics system resembles the complicated "computer network of a modern business office," then this reference guide is what you need.
In today’s high-tech, ever-evolving world of electronics, being able to successfully troubleshoot a problem often requires sophisticated diagnostic tools and the know-how to use them.
Sherman covers everything from battery testing to analyzing harmonic distortion to surveying corrosion, and installing weather systems and on board networks. Dozens of illustrations and photographs help explain the entries. Readers will also find useful the glossary of terms and multiple charts and tables. (Published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2007; available at www.amazon.com for $23.)
Circumnavigator, author, and lecturer are just a few of the hats Beth Leonard dons. Along with her partner Evans Starzinger, Leonard has covered more than 90,000 bluewater miles, first aboard Silk (a Shannon 37 ketch) and now aboard Hawk (a custom, 47-foot aluminum sloop). She has completed a west-about tropical circumnavigation and an east-about, high-latitude circumnavigation, sailing beneath all five Great Southern Capes along the way.
"The Voyager’s Handbook, The Essential Guide to Bluewater Cruising": The 2007 release is the second edition of this title, which has become known as a must-read for any sailor considering extended voyaging. Readers of this step-by-step guide to the cruising life will benefit from Leonard’s experiences and her talent for inspired writing. She offers up-to-date guidance on everything from making the decision to live afloat to proper foreign port protocol. Whether you’re a casual coastal sailor or a seasoned old salt, if you’re thinking about leaving the land-lubbin’ life behind for distant shores, "The Voyager’s Handbook" would be a wise addition to your library. (Published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2007; available at www.amazon.comfor $27.)
"Blue Horizons, Dispatches from Distant Seas": Where Leonard’s "The Voyager’s Handbook" covers the practical side of cruising, "Blue Horizons" offers up some of the magic—and harsh reality—of the voyaging life. A chronicle of Leonard and Starzinger’s six-year, 50,000-mile circumnavigation aboard Hawk, the book is a collection of columns that she wrote along the way and that first appeared in Blue Water Sailing magazine. While we’ve been reading about sailing adventures from the man’s perspective since before Richard Henry Dana published "Two Years Before the Mast" in 1840, cruising adventure tales by women are rare treats. Leonard’s casual, sometimes straightforward, sometimes romantic, style of writing lends itself to the telling of such cruising tales. Readers find gifted insight into how life at sea can transform a sailor, can further inspire an adventurer, and can strengthen—or test—a relationship. (Published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2007; available at www.amazon.com for $16.)
A doctor by profession, Andy O’Grady built Balaena, a 42-foot gaff cutter, in 1988 while practicing medicine in New Zealand. Today, O’Grady and his wife, Ulla Norlander, cruise the world’s oceans aboard Balaena. Since 2000, they have sailed from New Zealand to Chile, South Georgia, South Africa, the Caribbean, the U.S. East Coast, Labrador, Greenland, and Europe.
"Ocean Passages and Landfalls, Cruising Routes of the World": O’Grady co-authored this book with Rod Heikell, a well-known author of pilot books. Norlander created more than 100 of the book’s sketched charts.
A guidebook for world cruisers, "Ocean Passages" offers everything from advice on planning a passage to key details of specific harbors to the pros/cons of various passages. The valuable information and 300-plus color charts cover the North and South Atlantic, North and South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Southern Ocean. In O’Grady’s words: "I am a dreamer, one who likes to live out his dreams. I hope the book will help the reader to do both…" Indeed, the book is a comprehensive tool for the cruiser and fodder for the land-bound dreamer. (Published by Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson, 2005; available at www.amazon.com for $53.)
A prolific author, John Rousmaniere has written books covering a range of boating topics, from handling emergencies on board to the tragic 1979 Fastnet, to the must-have "Annapolis Book of Seamanship." An authority on safety at sea, Rousmaniere has sailed more than 35,000 miles.
"In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship": Anyone interested in maritime history or the storied background of modern boatbuilding and boat design will enjoy this book. Rousmaniere’s well-researched tale of the life, death, and resurrection of a classic yacht is as much about Bolero as it is about the people who were a part of her journey. From the 73-foot yawl’s pedigreed beginning—designed by Olin Stephens, built by Henry Nevins—through her 1949 launch, racecourse wins in the 1960s, and neglect until the 1990s, the book tells the story of the owners, designers, builders, and sailors who were part of her mystique. In today’s era of production boatbuilding, the tale of this classic, sleek beauty is an inspiration and a reminder that a boat is more than the sum of her parts. (Published by Mystic Seaport Museum, 2006; available at www.landfallnav.comfor $50.)
"A Berth to Bermuda, 100 Years of the World’s Classic Ocean Race":
A Newport-Bermuda Race veteran, Rousmaniere traces the annual offshore race to its 1906 beginnings. With its centennial anniversary publication, the book recounts each remarkable race—and its notable characters—with well-researched narratives and beautiful photographs that highlight the fact this ocean race was created for the amateur sailor. Rousmaniere’s first-hand experience fuels the book’s insightful look at the sailors and the boats that make the Bermuda Race—the mother of modern ocean racing—what it was and what it is today. The book includes race results from 1906-2006, a list of all past commodores, and a roundup of basic race trivia. This book would be a great gift for any past Bermuda Race sailor, and it’s a great read for anyone with an appetite for maritime history. (Published by Mystic Seaport Museum, 2006; available at www.amazon.com for $50.)