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Old 10-27-2000
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Mark Matthews is on a distinguished road
World Cruising Routes

Few would argue that Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes has become a standard for cruisers contemplating sailing for distant shores. Now in its fourth edition, Cornell presents the daunting challenge of planning global sailing routes in precise terms appealing to both the sailor plotting a world cruise and the dreamer toying with the idea. More than 500 sailing routes covering all the oceans of the world—from the tropical South Seas to the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic—and 5,000 waypoints are in this well-referenced compendium.

Cornell’s philosophy is still the same as it has been for the previous editions of this comprehensive sailing guide. Namely, that in a well-found boat with the right information, it is possible to be in the right place at the right time and avoid the heavy weather of typhoons and hurricanes. "Even in a well-designed yacht it is often wiser to cover a longer distance with better winds than to stubbornly try to follow the direct route between two points," writes Cornell. In a large sense this—working with seasonal weather patterns and Mother Nature—is the vision behind the book. "Some voyages start as a dream, but end as a nightmare, usually due to lack of planning and inadequate preparation," the book begins before segueing into an orientating chapter on winds and currents of the world, followed by the several hundred globe-spanning routes that comprise the bulk of the text. While most of the material was gathered during the author's two circumnavigations, a book of this depth is a collaborative effort and other sailors around the world have supplied vital information. More than 40 routes have been added to the latest edition, partially reflecting the tendency of cruising boats to venture increasingly farther afield, to the Arctic and Antarctic, and other typically less-visited regions of the world. Amid the many diagrams also included are chart numbers, best time of year, cruising guides, and pilot books for the areas.

The material itself is vast. Whether crossing the Atlantic for Europe and the Med, heading to the Caribbean transiting the Canal or heading for the Galapagos and points westward, there are time-tested routes derived from Cornell’s own 100,000 miles in all oceans of the world. While short of a cruising guide for the globe, the book does include main port information, customs, and other shoreside essentials to assist those arriving from sea to new lands and their people.

But don’t think that this is a book just for circumnavigators and circumnavigators to be. In addition to being thoroughly revised, the current edition has plenty of interesting facts on climate, weather, currents, and oceanography, along with the odd factoid here and there. Columbus, for example, made his tradewind passage from the Canaries in September—the height of hurricane season, when such a passage should not even be considered. The practical information that brings the book alive—the newly formed volcano off the south coast of Iceland, a favorable counter current off the coast of Brazil, fog and fishing nets to be aware of off Thailand—these are the things that have intrigue, mystery, and the pragmatism that compel cruisers to get out and do what they love most.

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