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post #448 of Old 11-26-2012
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Re: Recommended Reading

Just finished "Blue Water, Green Skipper" by Stuart Woods. This book is a memoir from the prolific author about how he started sailing, and his preparation for and completion of the 1976 OSTAR race from England to Newport, RI. Woods wrote this book before he became a best-selling author (it was originally published in 1977), and has been republished now in time for Xmas. The cover of this new edition is designed so it looks like a "Stuart Woods" book, with same cover format as all of his best-sellers (the author's name in large print above the title, etc.).

I found this book to be very enjoyable and different from many of the "I did it and so can you" sailing books. First, Stuart Woods is a much better writer than most of the sailors out there who have penned similar books. He may not have been the best-selling author he was to become when he wrote this book, but even as a "beginner" author, he is a fair-sight better than most. Second, the book is set mostly in Ireland, where he first really learned to sail and to prepare for the OSTAR. Ireland in the mid-1970's was clearly not the USA; small towns, few telephones, quirky people. Just a totally different point of view. Third, I found the discussions of navigation and boat technology fascinating. For example, while not wealthy, Stuart clearly had money to spend on his boat and in prepping for the OSTAR. And yet, there was never any discussion, none at all, about installing GPS (which I don't think existed yet) or its predecessor SATNAV aboard. Lots about sextants and gadgets that would take data from your log (the kind that kept track of your speed and distance run) and cross check that with your heading to tell you how far off course you were, but nothing about the navigation aids we so dearly rely on these days. And the roller furling! Stuart invests in a unit that keeps breaking and wrapping up his headsails around the stay. Interestingly, Ron Holland designed Stuart's boat for the OSTAR. Yes, that Ron Holland, now one of the foremost designers of luxury sailboats in the world was working in Ireland in the mid'70's and just getting started. Lots of talk about designs that were under or influenced by the long-gone and hardly missed IOR, and its easy to see why from the problems suffered by Stuart.

All in all a very enjoyable read. Its a period piece for sure, but there are still lessons to be learned about dedication, preparation and attitiude from this book.
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