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Nautical Books for the Holidays

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I have been reading and reviewing a selection of books that would make great gifts for sailors. Some are about the Caribbean and some are not. All will keep you entertained and some will educate. One, at least, might make you blush.



AS LONG AS IT’S FUN: The Epic Voyages and Extraordinary Times of Lin and Larry Pardey
by Herb McCormick
Paradise Cay Publications / www.paracay.com.
Print and eBook editions available 

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I hold the Pardeys in high esteem and met them while taking part in the Falmouth Classic Yacht Regatta in England. In his fascinating book, Herb McCormick has done more than meet the Pardeys, he’s sailed around in their lives and recorded their secrets.

As Long As It’s Fun tells the story of one of the world’s greatest cruising couples and pays homage to two small wooden ships, an iron man … and an iron women. More than a book about ocean wanderers; this is a moving love story: Love for a boat, love for each other and love for adventure served hot and cold by the encompassing sea. Difficult family relationships, feats of boat building and a life fully lived all laid bare and dowsed with salt spray.  What the Pardeys achieved during their sailing career is staggering; however, they faced plenty of criticism, something McCormick wasn’t afraid to mention in a book that is startling in its honesty.

A great read for any couple contemplating sharing a bunk, never mind going to sea together, and although  it’s about two people on wooden boats they built themselves, something that few will do today, the book reveals much about  navigation and proper seamanship. The book is illustrated with photos of the Pardeys’ boats and early life and includes a map of their voyages.  Prodigious authors themselves, McCormick’s book will do wonders for the Pardeys’ back catalogue and I for one will be reading them all again.



Sextant: A young man’s daring sea voyage and the men who mapped the world’s oceans
by David Barrie
Published by HarperCollins. Paperback, hardcover and eBook available

The great navigators, the marvelous instruments they invented and the voyages they undertook all interwoven with the adventures of a young man who crossed the North Atlantic as part of the crew of a small yacht, while relying on a sextant to find the way.  Intrigued? I was and this illustrated book did not let me down. Barrie sails east across the Atlantic and learns to use a sextant from the yacht’s captain, a retired, no-nonsense Royal Navy officer. While describing his voyage and the magic of the sextant, Barrie, a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation, takes you on a journey of discovery with details of how such an instrument came about. All the great navigators: Bligh, Cook, Bougainville, Flinders, Slocum are here. Barrie’s narrative about his own voyage or those of the greats of history is salty and entertaining. Having read the book, looking at a GPS will never be the same again.



Sunfun Gospel and The Drinking and Eating Guide to the BVI
by Julian Putley
Published by Virgin Island Books.
Sunfun Gospel is also available as an eBook

Readers of All At Sea will know Julian Putley from his regular column: Sailing with Charlie. Julian, a BVI resident, is also the author of several books and we take a look at two of his most popular.

Sunfun Gospel is a smashing Caribbean yarn with more twists than a goat track. When Solomon Welch, the crooked boss of the United Fruit Company, and his businessman partner Sam Macain, a serving US congressman, arrive in Dominada on the mega yacht Big Banana and try to outwit the impoverished land owners, they run into a cast of characters that can outwit them all. Delroy Frazer, who turns his back on rum and the pleasures of the flesh after praying and experiencing a ‘miracle’, has himself ordained through an internet site. Blessed with a silver tongue and using his skills as a gospel preacher, the now reverend Frazer rallies the islanders and causes chaos with the businessmen’s plans. Add a murder, corrupt and inept police (with amazing names); politicians on the take, a gallant mega yacht captain and his lovely wife, and a rescue at sea and you have a cracking tale of sin and redemption Caribbean style. The islands might be a product of the author’s imagination but anyone who has spent time in the islands will know the plot could hold some truth. This is a fist-bump; whiff of ganja, fun read that is sure to become a Caribbean classic.

Putley’s The Drinking and Eating Guide to the BVI is exactly what you expect—A fun guide to the islands’ Best Bars and Restaurants. Lavishly illustrated with maps, drawings and cartoons by Hannah Welch, this book will pay for itself by simply using the coupons in the back to secure discounts at certain bars. Some restaurants even offer a free bottle of wine.  Many of the establishments are introduced with a poem and some share their recipes for a variety of cocktails the likes of which you have never come across. Scattered throughout the guide are a selection of   Putley’s ‘Cryptic Comments’. Now in its fourth edition, this book will add to the fun of anyone visiting the BVI in search of interesting places to wine, dine, and party.



Captain Mark’s Way: True Stories and Reflections of a Sailing Captain
by Mark Denebeim
Available from Amazon Books, paperback and eBook

I read this as an eBook and still haven’t decided if Mark’s stories as a charter boat skipper are true; if some of them are true, or if Mark is another Tristan Jones. One thing I do know is having read this book, I wouldn’t want my daughter working on a charter boat unless chastity belts were compulsory and came with the job. It seems that on seeing Mark and other captains women throw off their clothes! If you work or worked in the charter business over the last few years and recognize yourself in this book, then don’t blame me, I’m just a reviewer who thinks that if the author didn’t change some names to protect the innocent, then perhaps he should. Mark blows the lid off the charter trade and hangs the dirty washing from the rigging. It’s an interesting read, and the scary part is that the stories are … plausible. I have experienced the wild side of the industry.



The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin
by Mark Yokoyama
Available from Amazon Books and www.sxmwildlife.com

Don’t be put off by the title because most of the wildlife found in St. Martin can be found on islands throughout the Caribbean. Revised and expanded, the second edition of this book is lavishly illustrated with over 500 full-color photographs. The guide is a labor of love by a talented naturalist and wildlife photographer with a degree from Harvard University.  Each photo – bird, mammal or reptile – comes with detailed descriptions and information about habitat. In his introduction, Mark explains how the guide is evolving as new species are added; various animals are renamed and even discovered. A book to dip into time and again that makes a wonderful gift for kids and anyone with the slightest interest in wildlife.


Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea. He is and the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information visit: garyebrown.net 

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Gary Brown
Gary Brownhttp://garyebrown.net
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea Caribbean. He is a presenter on Island 92, 91.9 FM, St. Maarten, and the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information, visit: garyebrown.net

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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