Book Reviews

By Mark Corke

Five back-to-school reads.

Celestial Navigation For Yachtsmen

Celestial Navigation For Yachtsmen book cover

My first sail across the Atlantic, pre-GPS, I had few electronics aboard, but I did have a sextant, a set of sight-reduction tables, and a well-worn original copy of Mary Blewitt's essential navigation guide. This slim book gets right down to it with no fluff, just straightforward information about finding your position using heavenly bodies. First published in 1950 and now in its 13th edition, it demystifies what for many is a black art and explains the required techniques in plain English. Not light bedtime reading, but a perfect teaching and reference book to turn to again and again.

Tides: The Science And Spirit of the Ocean

Tides: The Science And Spirit of the Ocean book cover

All boaters who float on saltwater are affected by tides, that movement of vast masses of water from one place to the other caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. The basic physics can be described in a few hundred words, so it's hard to imagine that there would be enough material on the subject to fill a book. Jonathan White proves there is through his fascinating exploration of how tides impact every aspect of our lives, how man has harnessed the tides, how climate change is affecting sea levels, and the devastating effects of freak tides and rising water levels on our planet.

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy book cover

he exploits of legendary writer Ernest Hemingway did much to promote the sport of saltwater fishing while he was crafting classic literature, such as The Old Man and the Sea. His beloved 38-foot Wheeler sportfishing boat Pilar is synonymous with the man himself. Nicholas Reynolds' book chronicles a less-publicized aspect of his life, specifically his role as a Soviet agent, code-named Argo, hunting Nazi submarines in the Caribbean; his role in Europe helping uncover key tactical intelligence for the liberation of Paris and fighting alongside U.S. infantry in the bloody endgame of World War II; and his time in a Cuba informant ring called the "Crook Factory" that reported to the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

A Man For All Oceans: Captain Joshua Slocum and the first solo voyage around the world

A Man For All Oceans book cover

Joshua Slocum is best known as the first man to sail alone around the world. His firsthand account that followed, Sailing Alone Around The World, has been continuously in print for more than 100 years and made Slocum a household name around the globe. A commensurate sailor and ship captain, he was happiest at sea. This latest (and thoroughly researched) biography delves deeper into Slocum's life. A loveless second marriage, financial hardships, and life ashore were hard on Slocum, and this book does much to help us understand the man behind the legend and the era in which he lived.

Fiberglass Boat Restoration: How to organize, finish, and actually use your boat!

Fiberglass Boat Restoration book cover

Seen as the ultimate boatbuilding material in the 1960s, fiberglass was touted by manufacturers as a maintenance-free material. But age and wisdom has shown that is not the case. Capt. Wayne Canning, with his 30-plus years of knowledge and experience as a boatbuilder, repairer, designer, and surveyor, shares how to care for your boat, from the basics of waxing and polishing to how to rebuild stringers and transoms. If you're thinking of tackling a "project" boat, this is a wise first read before diving in. It's full of useful, practical advice and tips. 

— Published: October/November 2017

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