Episode #009: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: My Top 8 Sailing Books

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I am a real bookworm, and so this week I am going to share some of my favourite sailing books. These are novels and not related to coaching, educating or learning anything new. They are just for me and just for fun! The descriptions I have provided are from The Nautical Mind or Amazon.ca.

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#61: Sails – Finding a Sailmaker Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

And so, here is a short list of the sailing books that have really stuck with me after reading them. Surprisingly, I actually do not read a lot of sailing books. My library mainly consists of maintenance and how-to books that I use for coaching and teaching others. Maybe I’ll do another podcast about those sometime! What are some of your favourite nautical reads? I’d love to know!

North Into the Night: A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic ~ Simon Alvah

After a beautiful and sometimes hair-raising voyage beyond Baffin Island and far above the Arctic Circle, Diana and Alvah Simon could go no further and made preparations for the long Arctic night. Diana was evacuated by helicopter to be with her terminally ill father and Alvah spent the winter alone with the boat. This is their story: an epic voyage, encounters with the Inuit people, Alvah’s descent into near-madness, and Diana’s return in the spring, through harsh weather and near disaster. Get your copy here!

The Curve of Time ~ M. Wylie Blanchet

An account of the summer cruises in British Columbia during the 1930s of a young widow and her five children in a 25-foot motorboat. The book is a charmer, and captures the essence of cruising the rugged B.C. coast more than half a century ago. Get your copy here!

Fastnet, Force 10 ~ John Rousmaniere

It began in fine weather, then suddenly became a terrifying ordeal. A Force 10, sixty-knot storm swept across the North Atlantic with a speed that confounded forecasters, slamming into the fleet with epic fury. For twenty hours, 2,500 men and women were smashed by forty-foot breaking waves, while rescue helicopters and lifeboats struggled to save them. By the time the race was over, fifteen people had died, twenty-four crews had abandoned ship, five yachts had sunk, 136 sailors had been rescued, and only 85 boats had finished the race out of the 303 that participated. John Rousmaniere was there, and he tells the tragic story of the greatest disaster in the history of yachting as only one who has sailed through the teeth of a killer storm can. Get your copy here!

Red Sky in Mourning ~ Tami Ashcraft

Picture yourself in a tropical climate, sailing out to sea with your fiancé. Life is perfect; you’re young and in love. Then picture everything going horribly wrong. You inadvertently sail into a hurricane, you’re injured, and you wake up to find that your loved one is gone. Your boat’s motor is shot and your masts have disappeared. Utterly alone, you’re weeks from dry land. Red Sky in Mourning is the story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft’s 41-day journey to safety, which she survived through fortitude and sheer strength of character. Interspersed with flashbacks to her romance with her doomed fiance Richard, this survival story offers an inspiring reminder that even in our darkest moments we are never truly alone. Now a movie Adrift. Get your copy here!

The Voyage of the Northern Magic: A Family Odyssey ~ Diane Stuemer

Ever dream of selling up and running away to sea? Diane Stuemer and her husband, Herbert, were once a typical suburban couple entering middle age, with a comfortable home and three boys under twelve. A year later they had sold their business, rented out their house, and were setting out to circumnavigate the globe in a 40-year-old yacht. Their entire sailing experience consisted of six afternoons on the Ottawa River. Out of print, but some copies available here.

Sailing Alone Around the World ~ Joshua Slocum

The true story of the first man ever to circle the globe entirely by sea. First published in 1900, only two years after Slocum completed his historic circumnavigation, it has been in print ever since. Get a copy here!

Sea of Dreams ~ Adam Mayers

A nail-biting account of the 2002 Around Alone yacht race by the journalist who covered it for the Toronto Star. Mayers follows the sailors (including Canadian Derek Hatfield who was cruelly dismasted part way through the race) through the Bay of Biscayís wild storms, the Doldrums, an angry Southern Ocean, and the treachery of Cape Horn. Mayers completes the account with intimate information about the minutia of the life of long-distance skippers and the boats they sail. Get it here!

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival At Sea ~ Jonathan Franklin

On November 17, 2012, two men left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. That night, a violent storm ambushed them as they were fishing eighty miles offshore. As gale force winds and ten-foot waves pummeled their small, open boat from all sides and nearly capsized them, captain Salvador Alvarenga and his crewmate cut away a two-mile-long fishing line and began a desperate dash through crashing waves as they sought the safety of port.

Fourteen months later, on January 30, 2014, Alvarenga, now a hairy, wild-bearded and half-mad castaway, washed ashore on a nearly deserted island on the far side of the Pacific. He could barely speak and was unable to walk. He claimed to have drifted from Mexico, a journey of some seven thousand miles. Get your copy here!

Some books on my read next list include:

  • A Race Too Far – Chris Eakin
  • Left For Dead: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race – Sinead O’Brien
  • Maiden Voyage – Tania Aebi

What are your favourite nautical reads? Let me know! I’m always looking for new sailing books… just don’t tell my husband 😉

Pro Tips

Here are a few books that I reference for coaching:

  • RYA Navigation Handbook
  • The 12 Volt Bible for Boats
  • Illustrated Sail & Rig Tuning
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework
  • Reeds Weather Handbook

Happy Reading!

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