The Nautical Mind wishes Toronto Brigantine & STV Pathfinder a happy anniversary, and congratulates them on fifty years of bringing tall ship adventures to youths!
Recently while browsing through one of the new books in the store (a definite perk of working at Nautical Mind) I came across a model someone had built of the MV Kalakala. The ship was incredible looking, like nothing I had ever seen on the water.
I decided I had to look into her story. Kalakala was originally built in the 1920′s as the Peralta, but when Peralta burned in 1933 the hull was sold to new owners who decided to go all out with their construction. The new owners happened to be the Puget Sound Navigation Company, and the Kalakala served as a ferry in Puget Sound from 1935 to 1967. Nowawdays the hull is sitting in Tacoma awaiting her fate. The Coast Guard has declared it a hazard to navigation, but there is a dedicated team of volunteers trying to save the beautiful ship. You can read more about the ship and the efforts to save her at kalakala.org
While doing my research I also came across another incredible art deco ship, the SS Admiral. She was built as a Mississippi steamboat, and cruised the river for may years. Unfortunately she has recently been taken to the breakers yard, as it was going to be far too costly to bring the ship back to her former glory and up to Coast Guard safety standards.
I could not find any website specifically about the Admiral, but this page does have some great photos and personal recollections.
To read more about these amazing ships, and others like them, you can check out Ship Style: Modernism and Modernity at Sea
Lin and Larry Pardey’s many co-authored books include Cruising in Seraffyn, Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew, The Self-Sufficient Sailor, and Storm Tactics.
Larry: Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander by David Cordingly is one of my favourites. I loved the Hornblower books, not for the blood-and-guts fighting but for the fine seamanship, excellent planning, and clever sailing tips I gleaned. To read Cochrane is to realize the exploits of Hornblower were not exaggerated but based almost completely on fact. Cochrane’s seamanship was amazing, as was his concern for the men under his command. His life was far more complicated than the fictional characters drawn from it. This book reads almost like a novel.
Beth Leonard’s books include books include Voyager’s Handbook, Blue Horizons, and Following Seas: Sailing the Globe, Sounding a Life
I read Rockwell Kent’s N by E when we were in Patagonia and was enchanted by Kent’s sparing prose and how it complimented his beautiful woodcut illustrations. Few books come so close to capturing the dream of all cruisers to go over the horizon, test oneself against the sea, and return, knowing oneself and one’s world more intimately and more completely than one ever has before. But Kent also captures the allure of high latitude cruising and depicts the indigenous Greenlanders he meets with compassion and great respect in an era when these people had not yet lost their native traditions. He gives us a glimpse of a world long since gone, but one that shares with our own the universal desire for human striving and personal betterment.
Jimmy Cornell’s many books include World Cruising Routes, A Passion for the Sea, and the just- published World Cruising Destinations.
My favourite book is a recent publication: A Race Too Far by Chris Eakin. It is the story of the first round-the-world race, a spell-binding tale of immense courage, heroic sacrifice, and profound despair whose reverberations are still felt by the survivors of this epic drama and whose painful memories have not been alleviated by the passing of time. The Golden Globe trophy and the considerable prize of £5,000 (approximately £100,000 in today’s money) wa offered to the first person to sail around the globe without stopping anywhere. The rules were very simple, any type of sailing boat was allowed and participants had to start between 1 June and 31 October 1968. Several participants have written their own accounts and there have been a number of books written about this unique race but none conveys better the excitement and drama of this modern odyssey than Chris Eakin, who skilfully weaves together the disparate strands of a heart-rending tale of human tragedy and redemption of Homeric dimensions.
Derek Lundy’s books include Way of a Ship: A Square-Rigger Voyage in the Last Days of Sail and Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World’s Most Dangerous Waters.
Here’s a few lines about a book I like very much: Offshore Sailing: 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips by Bill Seifert (, with Daniel Spurr) is a supremely useful and practical guide to getting a sailing vessel ready for an offshore passage. Seifert has vast experience and he makes each tip — from rigging a boom preventer, to providing engine space ventilation, to how to make the best time on passages, to handy offshore recipes — easy to understand and apply. Anyone planning a passage out of sight of land should refer to Seifert’s essential manual. I’’m using Seifert myself at the moment in hopes of heading out into the big blue Pacific sometime soon.
So many favourite nautical texts and tales … but we are particularly grateful to Rod Heikell. In 1986 he lured us to exotic Turkey, then an unknown cruising destination, with his guide Turkish Waters & Cyprus Pilot. We have never looked back and cruising Turkey’s turquoise coast (in the East Aegean) remains a favourite region to which we frequently return. Whereas most guides are purely factual, Rod also brings history and culture alive giving a unique flavor that is so helpful in both planning and living the trip—especially as, in our experience, he is always right!
Adam Mayers’ books include Beyond Endurance and Sea of Dreams
Nothing I have ever read about boats and the sea rivals Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin series, often called “Master and Commander.” The novels put you on the quarterdeck of an 18th-century fighting ship with all the rich details of battles, people, places. It is as close as we’ll ever come to understanding what it was like to live in that time and place.
Ann Vanderhoof is the author of An Embarassment of Mangoes
and The Spice Necklace
I particularly love guides where the writer’s personality comes through, and he (or she) lays his biases on the table. For the Caribbean, where we’re cruising these days, my favourites are the ones written by Chris Doyle. He makes it perfectly clear that he loves to explore on foot — and when he tells me to take a hike, I know it’s well worth following orders.
Don Casey’s many books include This Old Boat, Sailboat Electrics Simplified, and Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual
Want to sail away? Then go. For most North Americans, the value of just the car in your driveway can fund a year-long cruise—not aboard this year’s “Best Full-size Cruiser” as decreed by your favorite sailing magazine, but aboard a seaworthy and comfortable sailboat of modest size and mature age. Reading John Vigor’s enlightening little book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere can be a life-changing experience. The featured boats are not only affordable, but they insulate you less from the cruising experience. A good thing. And a good book.
Anne Brevig is the author of 9 Years on the 7 Seas
I would like to recommend Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes. This book is an absolute must for offshore sailors and circumnavigators. We used it as our bible onboard!
Bob Hale, author, Waggoner Cruising Guide
My favourite nautical book is actually 21 of them, the Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels by Patrick O’Brian. They cross the line from story-telling to literature. Start with Master and Commander and work your way through them, one volume at a time. The series becomes richer with re-reading. I’m on my fourth or fifth trip through and I’m never bored.
John Rousmaniere, author, After the Storm, Fastnet, Force 10, and The Annapolis Book of Seamanship (among others)
There’s a special place in my heart for All This and Sailing, Too, the autobiography of the preeminent yacht designer Olin Stephens. In part this is because I was the book’s editor, working closely with Olin over several years. But largely this is because Olin brings his remarkable life so thoroughly alive. There is much to learn here about boats — and about life, too.
Kathy Parsons, author, Spanish for Cruisers, French for Cruisers
My first thought on opening Jimmy Cornell’s newest book World Cruising Destinations is that it’s BEAUTIFUL. And it is: the photos are gorgeous, and the layout makes it fun to just pick up the book and read … about Croatia, Spain, Cuba, the Falklands, Antarctica, or any other of the 184 sailing destinations that the book covers. World Cruising Destinations gives you the WHOLE world through a boater’s eye, and of course, not just any boater’s eye, but with Jimmy Cornell’s decades of experience. It includes for each destination such information as country profile, map, climate, facilities, formalities, cruising guides, charter operations — and best of all, an understanding of where and how you cruise that area. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sail or charter anywhere in the world, well now you can find out. It’s indispensable for planning your travels. Highly recommended!