Books for Sailors

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The thud of a book landing on a desk is a rare pleasure in this digital age, much more satisfying than the ping of an email or text alert. Kindle has its place, but there’s nothing like paper to get a lasting message across.

Good sailing fiction is a rare commodity these days—though there seems to be no shortage of bad stuff—so it was a pleasure to receive not one but two sailing-centric novels in the same month. In Before The Wind, author Jim Lynch tells the engaging tale of the Johannssens, a sailing family that’s like a distillation of all the eccentric, funny and cranky sailors you’ve ever met. All too many writers have failed to convey both the technicalities and the spiritual joys of sailing in a manner that will engage the uninitiated without alienating the experienced, but lifelong sailor Lynch carries it off in this enjoyable read.

As for Richard Probert’s That Good Night, here’s a book that could start a whole new genre—geezer sailing fiction. The hero is 84-year-old Charlie Lambert, who refuses to go gently into the good night of old age. He springs himself from a nursing home, buys a sailboat and heads off into the wild blue yonder to live out his days on his own terms, not those of his children. Keeping his whereabouts secret from his family and with a private eye hot on his trail, Charlie finds romance, freedom and, eventually, an ending of his own choosing.

And now for something completely different—Selling Your Writing to the Boating Magazines—and other niche mags. Here, Michael Robertson provides a comprehensive guide to conceiving, pitching, and (most importantly) writing articles that specialist magazines like SAIL will want to publish. I’d consider this book essential reading for aspiring sailing writers. If you want proof that Robertson knows whereof he speaks, I refer you to his excellent article on cruising Glacier Bay.

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