Hitting the Water With Old-School Virtual Reality

—April 14, 2016

It snowed over the weekend. Only about four inches, but enough to put a damper on the notion that we might have an early spring this year. The forecast for the coming week does not look promising as far as the boatyard doing much launching this week. Not that it really matters given that it’s the unholy tax filing month, and with my dual American-Canadian status I get double filing detail. Sigh….

Nevertheless, I’m itching to get on the water, anxious to feel the wind across my cheek as I hoist up the sails for the first time of the season. Alas, with no boat in the water, the inclement weather, work and taxes it looks like I will not be on the water until May. Oh well, guess I will need to scratch my sailing itch with a bit of virtual reality.

Yep, nothing like a good nautical book to tide me over while I contend with the symptoms of sailing withdrawal. I am not aware of any recent tales of nautical brilliance, but I love my selection of tried and true reads. And if you love a good nautical book as much as me, then I suggest you peruse my library and try out any one of these fantastic reads:

Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World’s Most Dangerous Waters

Derek Lundy

This book tried to keep me up all night, but the sun came up before I finished it—oops, I guess it was an all-nighter! Fantastic read that details just about everything one needs to know about what it is like to participate in the Vendee Globe, the round-the-world, single-handed yacht race considered among the most gruelling competitions of all racing sports. If you want to get the sense of what it’s like to sail in the “Roaring 40s” this book is for you. And yes, it was so good that I have read it again during daylight hours.

Northern Lights

Desmond Holdridge

Good luck finding a copy of this book, as it’s been out of print for decades, though a limited edition of some hundred or so was published a few years ago on behalf of the widow of a member of the Cruising Club of America. Somehow a copy ended up in my hands, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this true story began literally across the harbour from my dock. In short, a young man looking for a last youthful adventure prior to settling down, buys a 30-foot sloop from a local Nova Scotia boat builder, and, with two other adventurers, sets sail with the intention of reaching the top of Labrador. Beautifully written, the tale details the hazards of such a journey, along with the day-to-day difficulties of undertaking such a voyage with the rudimentary gear, supplies and limited nautical knowledge of the crew. Three disparate personalities trapped on such a small space in sometimes dire circumstances plays a role in the tale, too. This book totally needs to be re-published.

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Man Against the Sea

Sebastian Junger

Yeah, yeah, you probably saw the movie starring George Clooney. The book, which provides a detailed analysis of a massive storm system and its effects on a small New England-based swordfish longliner, puts the movie to shame. It was a up-half-the-night, one-sitting read the first time I read it, and equally enjoyable the second time.

Sailing Alone Around the World

Joshua Slocum

If you love the idea of casting off from your dock to leave your life as you know it for an extended voyage of life at sea while you explore the world, then why haven’t you read this classic book about the first person to sail around the world solo?

To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World

Arthur Herman

If you love nautical history, along with history in general, this tome perfectly describes how Britain’s Royal Navy helped England become a world power and shape the world as we know it today. Another hard-to-put-down read, it pretty much consists of one-seafaring tale after another, combined with insights on how each of the localized incidents at sea reverberated across the oceans to affect the course of other interactions by man and governments.

As I’ve only read this one once, I think I just found my pick. However, my bookshelves are filled with dozens of other great seafaring reads. Guess I’m going to have to revisit this topic in a future blog. Until then, just grab any of the above books—trust me, you’ll feel like you’re on the water.

—Originally published April 13 by Slidemoor

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