Our Book Shelf

When the cold north winds blow, it is a perfect time to cuddle up by the fire with a good book.  And what better to read than sailing books.  Mike and I have become voracious readers.  We download free books on our Kindle, we order books from the library, and Mike scours he 1/2 price bookstore for the next sailing adventure or how-to book.  Over the last few years we have probably read 100 sailing related books.  Below you will find reviews of several of the books we have read.  We have copied the reviews that we previously wrote to this page so readers can have one spot to check for a new book to add to their list.  All future reviews will be added to this page with the newest reviews at the top.

Mighty Merry Too by Mary McCollum

Mary McCollum was a little gray haired lady who sailed single-handed all over the globe.  She sailed across the Pacific Ocean after she turned 60.  She describes her life and her love of sailing as she takes you along to the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, Mexico and the Pacific.  It is so entertaining to read how she finances, fits out and sails a Pacific Seacraft Dana 24.  Since the Dana 24 is on my short list for small bluewater boats, I was particulary interested in her reflections on sailing one.  Give this book a try, you won't regret it.

Superior Run by Tom Wells

I just finished this book on my iPad using the Kindle app.  Although I was sitting comfortably on in my favorite chair in my living room, I was lost in sailing and adventure.  The tale is suspenseful and entertaining while supplying a good measure of sailing in the waters of Lake Superior.  You get the feel for sailing in these northern waters from a writer with first hand knowledge.  The descriptions of towns like Bayfield, Wisconsin are enough to make you begin planning your next sailing adventure.  A fun book that will entertain you while adding in lots of sailing action.

An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

This is a delightful book about a couple's adventures sailing around the world on their sailboat.  But the unique appeal of this book is the way this couple, and in particular, Ann, were able to learn about and become a part of the various villages they visited.  Through her love of cooking, Ann was able to make connections with people in a way that saw her invited into the homes and kitchens of women around the globe.  Friendships and bonds were formed that continue to grow.  Along with the adventures she and her husband experienced, Ann also includes recipes from kitchens she visited as well as tips on how to prepare and use the local ingredients.  There is a sequel, Spice Necklace, and Ann has a website at http://www.spicenecklace.com/

It's Your Boat Too by Suzanne Giesemann

OK. ladies and gents, listen up!  If the pretty half of your sailing crew isn't reading this - she should be! We can't emphasize enough how important it is for this to be a shared adventure.  Ok, there can be blue jobs and pink jobs, but for everyone's enjoyment of sailing, it is important that you both participate and become comfortable with all aspects of handling the ship.  Yes ladies, you do need to know how to empty the port-a-potty, but you don't have to do it every time.  (Ok, we ladies all know some tricks to get out of jobs like this.)  Likewise, gents, you need to share the fun!  Our comfort and pleasure has been enhanced because Mike has encouraged me to take the tiller, hank the jib, raise the sails, drop the anchor, and pull the cord for the motor (again ladies, you don't have to do this every time, but it sure is reassuring to know that you can do it if you have to.  Powerful stuff!)  I now feel more comfortable being in control which makes me feel safer on the boat.  It amazes us how many couples that do sail together have one crew and one passenger.  This just doesn't work for us.  I need to know that I can do what is necessary if Mike should go overboard or become ill.  And, it makes sailing fun when I can take the tiller, make the decisions on course and sail trim, and actually get where we planned to go.  When Mike pulls the anchor, which is usually my duty, he can understand what I am talking about when I say, "It is hard to put the retaining pin through when we anchor."  He can then come up with a solution.

On a recent sail with another couple on our Com-Pac 19, the ladies took the tiller and the guys decorated the bow.  Ladies you have to share the bow with the guys - it's only fair.  And you can even enjoy the view and stroke their egos by saying, "Nice bow candy!"  From the beginning, this is how we have approached learning to sail.  I know that I wouldn't enjoy sailing nearly as much as I do now, and I don't think Mike would either.  Knowing that Mike trusts me and respects me enough to let me try, assures me that he values my feelings and my self-worth -- two very important ingredients in a lasting relationship.

You may enjoy reading Suzanne Giesemann's It's Your Boat Too:  A Woman's Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water.  She offers tips and tricks to make your time on the water the best experience it can be.

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

Maiden Voyage is Tania Aebi's account of her solo circumnavigation on her Contessa 26 in the late 80's.  She was a gangly little rebel of a teenage with minimal sailing experience.  Her father gave her the choice of college or the boat with the stipulation that she had to sail around the world by herself.  Tania chose the boat.  This is a book about her adventure as she battle the lack of knowledge, inexperience, loneliness (no cell phone) and the unknown.  She didn't even know how to navigate!

Maiden Voyage was one of our first reads about someone sailing long distances.  We came out of it thinking that if she could handle her adventure, we certainly could cut the land lines and sail away from shore too.

Both of us have declared this to be one of our favorite books within the sailing genre (and we have read a ton!).  When we got down to that last little 1/8" of pages (in a paper book) we found ourselves slowing down in order to prolong the enjoyment of sharing in her adventure.  If you are looking for a sailing adventure, motivation to strike out on your own, love story, and coming of age story, then this book is for you.

Happy reading.

The Motion of the Ocean:  1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife by Joanna Cawrse Esarey

Living in the Midwest (at least for now) we have to fill in the long winter sailing gaps with books and movies that center on sailing.  We read just about anything and everything that even remotely relates to sailing and adventure.  One of these books really entertained both of us as it contains sailing, travel, relationships and some great humor.  How can a book that starts with these two lines not be entertaining:
"Somewhere fifty miles off the coast of Oregon I realize the skipper of this very small ship is an a*!hole.  He also happens to be my husband."

Janna Cawrse Esarey's book will make you laugh and marvel at a couple's relationship that goes through amazing peaks and valleys while having the sailing adventure of a lifetime.

Tracks in the Sea:  Matthew Fountain Maury and the Mapping of the Oceans by Chester G. Hearn

Tracks in the Sea chronicles the quest of Matthew Fontaine Maury to "shape the course on voyages as to make the most of the winds and currents at sea," thereby perfecting the "navigators art."  The back cover of the book explains further that, "In a brilliant eighteen-year effort between 142 and 1861 he transformed the oceans from trackless hazards into a network of highways marked by dependable winds and currents and showed shipmasters how to shave weeks and even months from voyages."

We both enjoyed this book for its wonderful mixture of science, geography, sailing, commerce, rivalry and ambitions with history written in a story format that we couldn't put down.  The book tells how careful observations and coordination of endless bits of data related to sea temps, depths, wind direction and speed, currents and general weather were gathered from observations made by many seafaring captains.  The author relates how Maury solicited the collection of this data from commercial and military ships and then synthesized the information into useable maps.  Maury's desire was to develop a mapping system that would be readily available and accurate for mariners' use.

This is a nice book to add to any sailor's collection.  It will truly give you an appreciation for the origins of our modern maps.  Our fancy-schmancy GPS's are amazing, but probably not nearly as monumental an accomplishment as these original maps of the seas.

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