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Christmas is Coming!

With the winter months on us I share in all humility books I have especially enjoyed about sailing! This is not to say there aren’t other gifts available with a sailing connection, but books are attractive and modestly priced, can immediately be used and are just right for a dark evening at home!  

A lovely book about a couple’s adventure sailing the oceans is “By Way Of The Wind” by Jim Moore, first published in 1991. Almost on the spur of the moment, he and his wife set off from Oregon to island-hop to New Zealand and then to cruise west round the world. With accounts of notable times ashore, and although on passage there were some real difficulties, it is a very warm and readable book.
In 1900 Joshua Slocum described his pioneering long solo passage in “Sailing Alone Around The World”. I was drawn to it by an excerpt of how at anchor in the sounds of Tierra del Fuego he protected himself from the murderous, pillaging natives. He scattered tacks all around the deck before bunking down with his rifle to hand! The tacks paid off. 
The first round-the-world non-stop single-handed race, started in 1968, was made up of a very mixed set of yachtsmen and yachts. Looking back it is astonishing that some even entered. Their fates in the race were very different. Peter Nichol has written a great account of it all in “A Voyage For Madmen”.
For fiction, the classic story is “The Riddle of the Sands”. Within this spy story, the account of nosing around the banks of the North Sea coasts off the Netherlands and Germany evokes coastal pottering. I also like the narrator’s impressions as he first boards his friend’s yacht and finds he had badly misled himself about its accommodation!
Let’s not forget “Swallows and Amazons” for the kids!
My “best book” is from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. It is his account of accomplishing the first, non-stop, singlehanded circumnavigation. Entitled “A World Of My Own” it is a great account of a voyage in an age when the aids to ocean sailing were so limited compared to today. And Knox-Johnston accomplished this in a 32 foot ketch! It is a tribute to seamanship.

Happy reading!

Happy sailing!

Ted Sankey, Commodore@phoenixyachtclub.co.uk


Do you have any favourite books about sailing? Why not recommend them as a comment below?

5 thoughts on “Christmas is Coming!

  1. I can also really recommend a title close to our club name, the book Phoenix from the Ashes by Justin Ruthven-Tyers, a great true story about a couple who build a classic yacht after their house burns down and their subsequent adventures living aboard and sailing her all over the UK, some great comedic moments as well.

  2. I can also really recommend a title close to our club name, the book Phoenix from the Ashes by Justin Ruthven-Tyers, a great true story about a couple who build a classic yacht after their house burns down and their subsequent adventures living aboard and sailing her all over the UK, some great comedic moments as well.

  3. And I’ve just read Sir Robin Knox-Johnson’s latest (2018) Autobiography “Running Free” after hearing him talk at the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival last summer. It of course all about him, but a fascinating account of both his early life building his 38 footer from scratch in India while he was in the merchant navy (where he learnt to navigate) and his entire career culminating in organising and running round-the-world big yacht racing for anyone so inclined. He writes as fluently as he sails!

  4. Very good recommendations, Andy! They’ll be on my own list! Know-Johnston also wrote Force Of Nature about his round the world solo in the Velux race. As you say, he writes very well!

  5. Voyage of Madmen is a great read. Would recommend ‘Left for Dead’ about the 1979 Fastnet. Certainly makes you think twice about how, in the words of TN, to “stay out of trouble, rather than get out of trouble” on future sails.

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