Great Boating-Related Reads

By Mark Corke

Some history, spies, trivia and trailering fun.

Fifty Ships That Changed the Course of History: A Nautical History of the World

Fifty Ships That Changed the Course oF History book cover

It's hard to underestimate the impact ships have had on world history. Long before there were planes, trains, and automobiles, ships were traveling to every corner of the globe seeking out new lands, trading with other countries, and advancing naval warfare.

This book takes a look at 50 of the most significant vessels. More than a simple list of statistics of each of the ships, the author does a great job of putting each vessel in context, outlining in detail the historical significance of the times, the crews that sailed on the voyages, and how world events were affected. There's a great deal of fascinating research in this book, with a plethora of drawings, paintings, and photographs — an excellent gift for anyone with an interest in ships and the sea.

The Complete Guide To Trailering Your Boat: How to Select, Use, Maintain, and Improve a Boat Trailer

The Complete Guide To Trailering Your Boat book cover

Anyone who's done it knows that towing a boat can be nerve-racking. The additional weight and length of the trailer can cause anxiety for neophytes, and on top of this, there seems to be so much other stuff to learn. How do you gain confidence and develop skills? How do you back a trailer? What's the best way to launch when you do make it to the ramp? This book has all the answers. When the publisher says it's the complete guide, including loads of photography and illustrations, they're not kidding. In fact, it's a U.S. Power Squadrons Guide. There are checklists galore, information on trailer types, and tips on maintenance and care. An easy-to-follow, indispensable guide for anyone who trailers his or her boat.

A History of Sailing in 100 Objects

A History of Sailing in 100 Objects book cover

Want to know the meaning behind "letting the cat out of the bag," the history of Jolly Roger, or just interested in nautical trivia? This book is for you. Dipping into the pages is a delight, and only when you thought you knew everything there is to know about boats, you find another gem. For instance, when I was a child, my mother ensured we all had a "square meal." This term was apparently created by England's Royal Navy, where sailors partook of meals on square wooden plates.

This is the type of book you won't read from cover to cover in one sitting, but consume in bites of trivia to be shared on the docks. For nautical scholars and all those interested in ships and the sea, it's a significant volume to keep by the bedside and read a section or two before nodding off to sleep.

Harbor of Spies: A Novel of Historic Havana

Harbor of Spies book cover

The influence of Spanish colonial rule remains a visible reminder of Cuban history — the city of Havana in particular. Set in 1863 at the height of the American Civil War, this fictional tale focuses on Everett Townsend, a would-be naval officer who finds himself not in the continental navy as he had hoped, but as the skipper of a blockade-running schooner.

Rescuing a man outside Havana Harbor puts Townsend in more danger than he ever imagined and leaves him embroiled in a murder investigation of a top English diplomat. Forced to work for slave traders and a world of spies, Townsend needs all his guile and resourcefulness to stay one step ahead of those who wish to pin the murder on him, an innocent outsider. 

— Published: October/November 2018

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