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Crab's Odyssey recounts the adventures of a group of undergraduates sailing a 17-foot ships lifeboat from Malta to Istanbul in the 1950s.
In the 1950s, two ordinary second-year students at Somerville College Oxford and their assorted crews sailed more than 1,500 miles in an open boat over four summers.
Joining them at different junctures was a medley of fellow-sailors. To pick up crew at a pre-arranged rendezvous at fortnightly intervals was a juggling act that for one crew member took three nights, eight trains and a ferry. But they only mislaid one and in the search came close to losing the skipper.
There were no plans for a journey to Istanbul at the outset, but the further they sailed, the more their ambitions grew. There were six major crossings often with non-stop baling and much coast-hopping.
Tensions on board, unexpected gifts and encounters, and an unexpected proposal: the book vividly recalls a Mediterranean Europe emerging from WWII.
NZ$55.00 + delivery.
In May 1946 John Caldwell set out to sail from Panama to Sydney to reunite with his wife who he hadn't seen for more than a year. Eager to reach his destination and unable to secure any other form of transport, he had to resort to singlehanded seamanship.
After an ignominious scene in the harbor, where a tangled anchor led him to take an early dip, he spent ten days learning the rudiments of navigation and sailing from a book, before embarking on the 9,000 mile journey aboard the 20-foot Pagan. Ahead lay a mission that was to reveal in him elements not only of astounding courage and determination, but also of incredible foolhardiness. Within 500 miles of Panama John Caldwell had already been shipwrecked once and had his boat's engine and cockpit destroyed by an angry shark. Indefatigable, he decided to press on towards his goal.He endured the terrors and discomforts of life on the high seas and enjoyed the triumphs of fighting and winning against the elements.
This is more than an exciting tale of sea-adventure. It is as compelling and unpredictable as a thriller. It is the story, witty and moving, of a man, motivated initially by love, and ultimately by his own fierce determination to survive.
NZ$45.00 + delivery.
In June 1994 Alvah Simon and his wife, Diana, set off in their 36-foot sailboat to explore the hauntingly beautiful world of icebergs, tundra, and fjords lying high above the Arctic Circle. Four months later, unexpected events would trap Simon alone on his boat, frozen in ice 100 miles from the nearest settlement, with the long polar night stretching into darkness for months to come. With his world circumscribed by screaming blizzards and marauding polar bears and his only companion a kitten named Halifax, Simon withstands months of crushing loneliness, sudden blindness, and private demons. Trapped in a boat buried beneath the drifting snow, he struggles through the perpetual darkness toward a spiritual awakening and an understanding of the forces that conspired to bring him there. He emerges five months later a transformed man.
NZ$37.00 + delivery.
The Northwest Passage proved so elusive for so long that many sailors and explorers believed it didn't actually exist. A sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic archipelago, it wasn't until Roald Amundsen's 190306 voyage that the Northwest Passage's existence was finally proved, but the transit is treacherous and entirely dependent upon the ice giving up its grip for sufficient time to allow vessels through. This is not a journey undertaken by average sailors in small private boats.
But David Scott Cowper, 73, is no ordinary sailor. There are seven possible routes through the Northwest Passage, and Cowper had sailed through six of them singlehanded. This is the account of the sixth and most northerly from ocean to ocean through the McClure Strait, this time accompanied by Jane Maufe, his crew. The account of the voyage is written by Jane and she captures Cowper's steely determination, resourcefulness in the face of adversity and humility in the wake of great achievement. Theirs is an old-fashioned relationship, where each party expects to fulfil their stereotypical roles.
But Jane is no push-over - she can steer a watch, haul sails, and leap ashore slippery pontoons with heavy ropes like the best of them. As well as a captivating story of adventurous sailing it provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between two serious and dedicated sailors, alone together in some of the most isolated and forbidding desolate wastes on earth. It is a relationship built on respect and high expectations, mutual ambition and also self-sacrifice, and the book is a uniquely revealing and charming account.
NZ$40.00 + delivery.
As a youngster in the nineteen eighties, Michael Hutchinson was passionate about sailing. He acquired a dinghy and crew, and spent his early years messing around on Belfast Lough. He learned to sail, race Mirrors and fling jellyfish accurately at passing competitors. In time, his salty daydreams became ambitious, encompassing the Olympic Games, America's Cup and Round the World yacht races. Trouble was, Hutchinson proved to be a deeply mediocre dinghy sailor, clocking up only one win in several seasons round the buoys. Although he was good enough at race tactics and seamanship, he lacked the sprinkling of gold dust that differentiates the very good performer from the brilliant. And so eventually, as is the way of sensible young men, he became disenchanted and stopped trying. Ironically, he then found he had a talent for cycling which took him as far as the Commonwealth Games.
Towards the end of his cycling career, Hutchinson decided to take a year out to discover if he really had the potential to realize his teenage dreams. With some difficulty and a number of funny stories, he joined the RORC circuit, the more serious end of yacht racing around the UK. At last he became a part of the scene at big, glamorous regattas like Cowes, Cork and Tarbert. His experiences ranged from finding himself the best tactician on a no-hope yacht to becoming a nobody on a La Rochelle racer. After that he geared up a notch, found a boat for the prestigious Swan Cup in Sardinia and moved on to St Tropez, where he ended up in an RIB chasing the sexiest yachts on the planet.
He had a good time, though really, not that much happened. But as with all good story-tellers, Michael Hutchinson has the knack of keeping us interested. He's a likeable character: amusing, deprecating and self-aware, and he writes with an appealing, conversational style.
NZ$30.00 + delivery.
Octogenarian Anthony Smith's journey was originally inspired by both the Kontiki Expedition of Thor Heyerdahl (who he knew) and the incredible story of the survivors of a 1940 boat disaster, who spent 70 days adrift in the Atlantic, eventually reaching land emaciated and close to death. While this might sound like a voyage no-one would wish to emulate, to octogenarian Anthony Smith it sounded like an adventure, and he placed a typically straightforward advertisement in the Telegraph that read "Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only." In his inimitable style, Smith details their voyage and the hardships they endured with a matter-of-fact air that makes his story seem all the more impressive. His advanced age allows him a wider perspective not only on the journey but on life itself, and his never-say-die attitude to the difficulty of the journey is inspirational. 'Old men ought to be explorers' said T.S. Eliot, and this book certainly gives a compelling argument in his favour.
A great story (a huge storm on the final night of the voyage almost wrecked them on a reef) and a call to action for the older generation - do not go quietly, says Anthony Smith, but seek out adventure as long as you are able....
NZ$30.00 + delivery.
Introduced by Tom Cunliffe. Paperback, 0.41kg, 128mm x 198m, 266 pages. Paperback Edition Published 2016.
Tom Cunliffe's name represents the gold standard of good yachting advice, and this book collects together his favourite extracts, all focusing on good seamanship in one way or another, from the classic and much-loved books that have instructed and inspired him over the decades.
Tom Cunliffe is one of the biggest names in the sailing world - an internationally renowned journalist and speaker, and the go- to guru when the BBC wants a presenter for a new TV series about maritime interests. For the last ten years he has edited the 'Great Seamanship' column of Yachting World magazine. Each column features an extract from a classic yachting book that covers an aspect of great seamanship. Tom introduces each extract by giving insightful background on the writer, their book and what makes their experience so worth reading about - and learning from.
This book comprises Tom's 40 favourite extracts, and covers the entire scope of yachting concerns, from small-boat handling to yacht racing to long-distance cruising and exploring.
Introduced in Tom's quintessential lively, engaging fashion, and illustrated with photos both from the original books and Tom's own archives, this beautifully packaged book contains a wealth of yachting wisdom and is a collection to be treasured.
NZ$25.00 + delivery.
BEER IN THE BILGES.
By Alan Boreham, Peter Jinks & Bob Rossiter. Paperback, 0.58kg, 230mm x 153m, 350 pages, Black and White Images. Published 2012.
In the early 1980s, after the sexual revolution and before the explosion of the electronic age, the remote islands of Polynesia begged to be explored. For three experienced sailors who dreamed of sailing through the idyllic South Pacific, it was a perfect time to embark on a quest through some of the most amazing cruising destinations in the world. As New Zealander "Hollywood" Bob Rossiter, Australian Peter Jinks, and Canadian Alan Boreham set off from different points in the world, none of them has any idea that a series of unanticipated events will eventually bring them together in the tropical swelter of Pago Pago. Along their journey lined with unexpected moments, the sailors meet a wide array of eclectic characters, including Sharkbite Charlie; Rosie, the three-hundred-pound dancer; and Gunter, the mysterious German chef from South America. Beer in the Bilges offers a fascinating glimpse into sailing voyages to the other side of the world where three men join forces and have to rely on their skills, their wit, and, most importantly, on each other as they embark on an unforgettable nautical adventure.
NZ$60.00 + delivery.
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This fascinating voyage is recounted by his father Jon, who was allowed to join his sons as their cabin-boy at the last minute - on the promise of good behaviour. And after reading the book I can honestly say his behaviour was very good, as it can't have been easy to sit back and let your son take all the responsibility. But he did and it is truly a great book. What a wonderful family they are as Jon frequently mentions his wife Barbara and their other 3 sons as parallel to the story of this trip he tells the story of a family with 5 home-schooled boys aboard their traditional ocean going yacht "New Zealand Maid".
Book NZ$27.00 + delivery.
Also available in DVD version
NZ$38.00 + delivery.
In the course of three successful circumnavigations he got lost in the middle of the Atlantic, made landfall on the wrong continent, coped with week-long storms, lost friends at sea and, on his third voyage (when in his seventies), was given up for dead, only to arrive back home months later in a skeletal state.
NZ$25.00 + delivery.