Some book reviews from Ontario Sailor Magazine:
The Annotated Two Years Before the Mast
By Rod Scher, Original story by Richard Henry Dana
Sailor, author and Harvard dropout (measles weakened his eyesight), Richard Henry Dana, wrote his book, Two Years Before the Mast, in 1840, about a trip he took on a working ship to California. The book became a hit and launched a genre, serving as a forerunner to maritime classics like Moby Dick, Sailing Alone Around the World and Caine Mutiny. Dana, a lawyer and member of a wealthy Boston family, signed up for grunt duty on the ship Pilgrim, and ended up writing about the poor working sailors who travel onboard “before the mast” compared to ship officers and privileged passengers who traveled in more comfortable quarters found aft of the mast. Dana went on to write another book, The Seaman’s Friend, that dealt with sailors rights during the early years of working sailboats, and he defended them in his law practice. His first book has never been out of print in more than 170 years and is now reprinted, along with annotations and notes in the margins by Nebraska-based writer and former English teacher Rod Scher. He has studied Dana’s life and books and has now added notes to explain in the original text old sailing terms, to criticize or compliment, and put the author’s life and experiences in context (eg. Dana’s use of the phrase “weakness of the eyes”).
Your First Sailboat, 2nd Ed.
By Daniel Spurr
A marine writer who has worked for various magazines including Cruising World, Daniel Spurr has updated his book, Your First Sailboat, designed to help find the right sailboat and gain the skills to enjoy a day on the water. He is the author of other books like Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat, Yacht Style, and co-author of Offshore Sailing. This book, with lots of black-and-white photos and graphics, tackles many topics, from what to look for in a new or used boat, handling and maintaining the vessel, navigating and what happens when things go wrong (eg., the engine doesn’t start). The back of the book lists 84 various mono- and multi-hulls, from dinghies to 38 ft. yachts, with the author offering pros and cons on various makes and models. Some topics may not be in detail, but the whole point is to get someone into sailing, and out enjoying themselves. Sail along with Daniel.