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Book Review: The Care and Feed of Sailing Crew, Lin Pardey with Larry Pardey

The Care and Feed of Sailing Crew, Lin Pardey with Larry Pardey, 3rd Edition, Paradise Cay Publications,
May 2006, 416 pages, paperback $24.95

Since previous editions of Lin’s book have been around for years, many cruisers will be familiar with the editorial format. A 50 day passage from Japan to Victoria, Canada in 1979 provided Lin a base for discussing everything from menus to clothing, to choosing a fresh chicken, to dealing with port officials, to preventing sea sickness, to buying liquor abroad as well as the best material for underwear. The book, despite the title, is hardly a cookbook; rather it’s a primer on successful cruising. Certainly, anyone contemplating, or preparing for, off shore passages would want to read and then keep this volume aboard.

The book is a distillation of thousands of miles of sailing, reflecting years of visiting ports throughout the world as well as delivering all manner of boats for others. Lin and Larry have been full time cruisers and professional sailors for some 40 plus years, it’s all that they do. They’ve learned a lot and a great deal of their wisdom appears in this book, where specific situations mix with general guidelines.

As a bonus, Lin writes very well. She’s able to seamlessly tie one subject to the next in a style that seems like great conversation rather than reading a how-to-do-it text. By structuring the flow of information in and around the process of food preparation while experiencing the joys and travails of a very long passage, she provides the reader with a good cruising tale enhanced with a thousand useful tips. It’s a very clever trick!

"... a great deal of their wisdom appears in this book, where specific situations mix with general guidelines."

This third edition has been updated and “modernized” to reflect our present world. However, the Pardey’s do most of their sailing aboard a “base” boat almost completely lacking in modern equipment. In 1979, their 25’ engineless Seraffyn had none of the electronics and complex systems now seen as almost standard for off shore cruising. Even today, 26 years later, their 29’ Taleisin has a solar panel that powers a VHF radio as well as some reading lamps and a vacuum cleaner (that must be very small!). There is not one word in this book about GPS, radar, or even radios. No computers (although they may use one for writing) means no electronic charts, no refrigeration, no generators, in fact, no electricity. What little is written about “modern” cruising systems comes in the form of warnings about breakdowns, expenses, hassles and the very real possibility of running out of food or water due to mechanical failure.

So how does the reading of Lin’s book benefit a contemporary high tech cruiser? By providing a base provisioning approach that can and should underlie even the most high tech craft. When the freezer quits, when the water maker packs it in, when the microwave blows up, you’ll still be okay

if you’ve stocked your vessel according to the Pardey guidelines. After all, they made a 50-day passage (motorless) on a 25’ wood boat across a stormy North Pacific yet arrived with provisions and water for an additional 20 days (and nothing broke!).

This edition of The Care and Feed of Sailing Crew offers expanded chapters of previous material, as well as discussion of new technology and gear. Tips vary from entertaining aboard to coping with money transfers. Lin points out that purchasing from ship chandlers saves serious duty fees but comes with bureaucratic hassles. There are great tips on provisioning in foreign ports as well as a strong suggestion to only go a short distance before anchoring following a farewell party.

Here are a few of the other tips: Fill your boat to the brim and resupply every chance you get. Credit cards are safer to use than debit cards. Carry $1000 in cash and several additional thousand in traveler’s checks. Paper towels are gifts from the gods! Eggs can be kept up to 3 months without refrigeration. How you can determine which engine parts are likely to fail. Learn which plastic material makes the best water jugs. How Lin outsmarted weevils and learned to bake fresh bread. Find out which galley layout works best offshore. Rain water catchers – how to make the best kind. On board trash collection and dealing with “black water” in boats lacking holding tanks. Which cutlery and dinnerware holds up best. Standing watches, getting rest and using Dramamine as a sleeping aid. Really, the book covers everything from the value of “a little black cocktail party dress” to the safety of double sinks.

Finally, intertwined in the cornucopia of wisdom is meal after nourishing meal sure to lift the spirits of a weary crew. Those recipes and cooking tips alone make for a book of great value. All the other info is just priceless gravy.

-Steve Bunnell

Stories written by Steve have appeared in Wooden Boat, Classic Boat, Northwest Yachting and International Yachtsman as well as 48º North. He races his Moore 24 throughout the Puget Sound and has cruised northwest waters when he owned a boat he could sit in rather than on.

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