Category

Lit Bits

Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

March 23/2022:  As soon as I finished reading Chris Bowman’s excellent memoir about building boats in Bequia and sailing with Bob Dylan, I was inspired to revisit this book. It is a curious volume, part cruising memoir and part scholarly treatise. Its author, Douglas C. Pyle, arrived in the islands in 1968 aboard an old...
Jan. 20/2022:  Bob Dylan is of course a famously opaque character, and one of the more opaque episodes of his life concerns a certain boat he once owned. It is almost mythical, the stuff of legend among sailors in the Caribbean today. But it is in fact true: the last large traditional schooner built on...
Dec. 16/2021:  This truly is a magnificent book. The ultimate in traditional wooden boatbuilding porn, it follows in great detail, photographically and textually, the new construction of Pellew, the largest Falmouth pilot cutter to be launched in Britain in more than 150 years. The mastermind behind the project was British builder Luke Powell, whose goal...
May 19/2021:  Editor’s Note… I was planning here to reprise a fine adventure I had back in May 2003, when I sailed from Cartagena, Colombia, to the western Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia in a local race/rally called La Ruta de Morgan. My host and skipper was a very special man, Eric Thiriez,...
Dec. 18/2020:  James Wharram, who first came to notice back in the 1950s after sailing a crude homemade catamaran across the Atlantic from England to Trinidad with two occasionally (and famously) unclad women, has cut a unique trail through the firmament of modern yacht design. He has always planted his flag far outside the boundaries...
July 24/2020:  I’ve said this before, and now I’ll say it again: the book Northern Lights, by one Desmond Holdridge, first published by Viking in 1939, is one of the best, perhaps the best cruising account I have ever read. It recounts the author’s first serious venture under sail, as an 18-year-old skipper managing a...
Apr. 21/2020:  By far the most successful post ever to appear here on WaveTrain, in terms of simple traffic, was this one here, from December 2015, on the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre (see image up top). My echoing of a call for volunteer crew to help sail the 115-foot ship transatlantic ended up...
What a charming book this is! A slim volume, but with a surprising variety of material in it. There’s a good deal of standard-issue practical advice you might find in other marine how-to tomes, but here you find it steeped and strongly marinated in a special sauce unique to Doug Logan. I’ve known the lad...
Decent films about ocean sailing are, alas, few and far between, so it’s worth noting there are at least three recent offerings I’ve screened that are truly worth watching. The first, unbelievably, is an A-list flick starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, The Mercy, which recounts the well-worn tale of Donald Crowhurst’s tragic voyage during...
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that the literature of the sea is nearly as vast as the sea itself. It seems there are always new landfalls to make. Here for example we have yet another fascinating character I never dreamed existed. Henri de Monfried, son of a minor French artist who...
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