Book Reviews

By Mark Corke

Four great summertime reads for the boating enthusiast.

The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers

The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers book cover

Without water, there would be no life on earth. Yet, just about all of us take it for granted. Even when we go boating, we don't really think much of it; it's just something your boat floats in. Author Martin Doyle's book delves deeply into our nation's rivers, how they have shaped commerce and communities, and how we've used and abused them. There's a section on how taxation has changed the course of rivers, how pollution has had such an environmental impact on our daily lives, and how things may or may not be changing. Filled with fascinating anecdotes and reportage on the state of our rivers, this book makes you think. There are more than 350 pages between its covers, but by the time I'd finished, I had a new respect for how our river systems really work and the facts about their current state.

Chasing The Cup: My America's Cup Journey

Chasing The Cup: My America's Cup Journey book cover

Even if you are not a sailor, you're probably aware of the 2013 America's Cup drama. Two super hi-tech yachts raced in San Francisco Bay, both foiling trimarans capable of speeds more than 45 mph in a series of 17 races. It seemed that Team New Zealand was all but assured of the trophy, but fantastic sailing by the USA team saw them come back to take the cup in a 9-8 win. The skipper of the boat on that occasion was Australian Jimmy Spithill. Chasing the Cup is more than just a book about events leading up to that stupendous win: It's about the man and how he came to be one of the world's top sailors. There's real humility in this book. Spithill just comes across as the Aussies say, "a real good bloke."

Sailing Into Retirement

Sailing Into Retirement book cover

Who hasn't thought of casting off the docklines and heading to where the sun sets with no plans to return anytime soon? But what does it take to live on board, how much money will you need, and is it just a pipe dream only attainable by the wealthy? All these questions and more are answered in this volume. The author does not sugarcoat the realities of living aboard and warns early on that this lifestyle is not for everyone. Specifically this book is about how one can retire on a boat and just what it'll take. Of course there are sections on choosing the boat, but they appear halfway through the book and not at the beginning as is so often the case.

The author suggests that a good deal of preparation will go a long way to making a successful transition to retiring afloat. With chapter sections on such subjects as diet, physical fitness, living with less, and decluttering, you'll more likely be confident and ready when you do finally slip those docklines.

A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands

A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands book cover

I've always liked cruising guides. They give an insight into an area, such as what to expect when you get there and how to navigate tricky entrances. When nicely written and compiled, they make you want to pack up your boat and head there. This book, which covers the coast from Olympia to Port Angeles, is a delight to read. Each destination, harbor, anchorage, and marina has a clear, concise description of the approaches and, in many cases, has a chartlet showing navigational markers. There's information on what to do when going ashore and a handy legend at the beginning of each entry tells the reader at a glance if such things as fuel, showers, and laundry facilities are available. The lavish color photographs, many from the sky, will help when entering a strange harbor for the first time. Thoughtful use of spiral binding allows pages to lay flat when the book is next to the helm. This is a book that you'll want to keep on the boat, but keep it next to the bed and you'll have dreams of distant shores as you nod off to sleep. 

— Published: August/September 2018

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