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Old 12-27-1999
John Rousmaniere John Rousmaniere is offline
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Recommended Books

In November we looked at some new or recent sailing books that had caught my eye. Incidentally, Olin Stephens' autobiography All This and Sailing, Too won't be available until mid-January 1999. It can be ordered from theSailNet Store.

We asked you to suggest other titles. Here are some that came in:

Red Sky in Mourning, by Tami Oldham Ashcraft and her friends, was heartily recommended by Mary A. Stoltz, who is cruising aboard Native Girl. "It really moved me. It is the true story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft and it tells of her survival after being dismasted 1,500 miles from Hawaii. Her companion is lost and she navigates all the way to Hawaii alone and injured for 41 days. It is an amazing tale!

Bob Vander Ploeg, who sails out of Thunder Bay, Ontario, recently bought a 28-footer for cruising with his wife and three sons ages three, six, and seven. Bob is a brave fellow and says he found several books helpful: Adlard Coles's Heavy Weather Sailing, and books by Tony Meisel, John Vigor, and Steve Colgate, among others. He was nice enough to say that one of my books helped him get started. Heavy Weather Sailing had several mentions, and deservedly, too, because it's one of the most thoughtful, practical manuals on ocean seamanship in extreme conditions. Steve Dashew's new Surviving the Storm belongs on the same shelf with it.

North to the Night, by Alvah Simon, was strongly recommended by Kitty Kuhner: "It is beautifully written and illustrated; a true adventure, not just about sailing. His boat provides the platform for a winter ice-in up in the Arctic. It's also about preparing for and surviving the long, cold, dark winter. Alvah has a wonderful sense of humor and a natural, flowing way of expressing himself. I highly recommend it!"

Rodrigo Lopez, who wrote from on board Fandago at San Andres Island, Colombia provided a long list: "There are a few books that really made an impression on my boating life. Some are books that I keep going back to whenever I have a question or problem or want to get an idea for whatever project I'm on, such as Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Lin and Larry Pardeys' Self Sufficient Sailor, plus Jim Howard's Handbook of Offshore Cruising, Cruising Under Sail by Eric Hiscock, and Sailboat Refinishing by Don Casey. Other books are just fun to read, such as Kon-Tiki, Slocum's Sailing Alone around the World, and The Navigator by Morris West."

Cook Books

Rodrigo Lopez ended his e-mail with a question: "I would like to get a couple of cooking books with a practical view. Any suggestions?" Since he sounded a little desparate, I went right back to Kitty Kuhner, who with her husband, Scott, has done two circumnavigations under sail.

Kitty replied: "I always have The Joy of Cooking aboard, especially for holiday cooking (to remind me how to cook a turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, etc.). Also Lynn Pardey's Care and Feeding of the Offshore Crew, which has good sections on what's available in various ports. On the first trip with no oven (just a two-burner kerosene stove) and no refrigeration, Janet Groene's Cooking on the Go was invaluable as it was geared with those restrictions in mind. Most of her recipes were with canned food, some dehydrated; she even had a recipe which used Alpo dog food we never got that desperate, though! Round pressure cooker bread was great too!"

My own favorite cookbook for a skimpy cooking area is Alex W. Moffat's The Galley Guide, first published in 1936 and updated several times until 1977. The only assumption that the author made about prior cooking knowledge was that his reader probably didn't have any. The recipes are simple and hearty. The early editions tell how to cook on a coal stove which some cruisers in colder climates still use.

Where to Buy Used Boating Books

New sailing books are sold in the same place and as most other types of books, in specialty or general bookstores and on-line retailers. For a new boating book, try the The SailNet Store or The Armchair Sailor (armchairsailor.com).

Many of the best books are old books. Don't despair if you can't find The Galley Guide, a favorite edition of Heavy Weather Sailing, or another older book in a bookstore. It's probably out-of-print (meaning no longer being officially published and distributed). Some on-line retailers specializing in new books may offer a few used copies, but you'll probably be luckier with a specialized finder of older books, like Bookfinder (bookfinder.com) which searches the inventories of many stores selling used and rare books. Bookfinder recently found seven copies of The Galley Guide and described one of them this way: "The dust jacket is a mess, stained and spotted. Looks like it spent some time on the boat." Where I come from, that's a compliment a book good enough be in regular use!