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Cruisers: How to prepare for the big trip

Cruising Under Sail
By Dag Pike
Adlard Coles Nautical
Softcover, 192 pages
www.adlardcoles.com

Although British marine journalist Dag Pike, now in his late 70s, spent a good part of his time on powerboats, including navigating during Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger record-breaking, fastest-crossing of the Atlantic on a powerboat in 1986, he’s also spent time on sailboats.

He first took up ocean sailboat racing in 1948, and was also involved in some of the early testing of RIB inflatables and RNLI lifeboats.

In his latest book, Dag now tackles the subject of cruising for sailors, and how to prepare for the big trip, from using paper charts, anchoring, weather watching, and planning each leg, to using a GPS, understanding tides, the importance of crew and coping with emergencies.

On the topic of emergencies, the author suggests a series of “what ifs” to prepare yourself for some tricky situations, like a leaky hull (stuff something into the hole), grounding (safety of crew is most important), towing of being towed, dismasting and steering loss.

The book features many colour photographs. The layout is quite simple, but the information contained is important for both the novice and the experienced sailor.


Keeping safe on the water

Boating Skills and Seamanship
By U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
McGraw Hill Education, International Marine
Softcover, 405 pages
www.internationalmarine.com

The auxiliary works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard on search and rescue and boating safety and is the largest U.S. boating educator in that country.

It has come up with a 14th edition of its popular primer for boaters who want to learn about seamanship.

Topics covered include choosing the right boat and safety equipment, like electronics, locator beacons, and boat handling, trailering, and other, important safety topics.

This book is written like a study guide, complete with chapter review questions and answers, to test your knowledge.

Both sailing and powerboats are covered, and the book features colour graphics, charts and photographs, making it easier for the novice to understand concepts.

Although the regulations are for the U.S., the general concepts, such as recognizing severe weather fronts, tying standard knots, docking and collision avoidance apply to everyone. This book is ideal for the safety conscience among us.


What makes a great photograph

Understanding Composition Field Guide
By Brian Peterson
Crown Publishing Group/Random House Inc.
Softcover, 288 pages
www.crownpublishing.com

Many sailors get into the sport because of an opportunity to share time with family, a love of nature or maybe sport and competition for the racers among us. And many enjoy capturing those special moments with a camera, to later share with others.

Well, here’s a book that will make your photos stand out from the crowd. Chicago resident Bryan Peterson, a professional photographer and teacher, has written many books on photography (Understanding Exposure 3rd Ed., Understanding Flash Photography) and his latest book covers composition or ways for an amateur to give their photographs more impact and emotion.

The author says it’s not necessarily the content but more about the arrangement or positioning of the photographer or camera.

The author encourages a new sight line, a different angle, moving closer to the subject, or maybe turning the camera to shoot either horizontal or vertical.

There are lots of tips, like background, the importance of shutter speed and aperture, framing and something called the Rule of Thirds (don’t put the main focus in the middle of the frame).

There are many examples of how to shoot nature, people, sports, macro or landscapes, and everything in between. Snap away.


Perfect passage making

Passage Making Made Perfect
By Alastair Buchan
Adlard Coles Nautical
Softcover, 224 pages
www.adlardcoles.com

An author of various sailing books (Sailing an Atlantic Circuit, How to Sail on a Budget), Alistair Buchan has more than 50 years of on-the-water experience and two Atlantic crossings and now offers up to long distance cruisers how they can best prepare for the trip, from selecting the boat and crew to mapping all available routes and ways to get there as safely as possible.

This book is similar in coverage to Dag Pike’s book (see above review) although Buchan is generally more detailed, with less personal or first-hand accounts of sailing experiences and more facts and figures.

For example, in a discussion on the ideal cruising boat, this book mentions topics such as side decks (wide enough for walking), deck hardware (bolted through the deck to backing plates), grab rails (don’t usually have backing pads and may be unsafe) and jackstays (to clip onto when leaving the cockpit), while the other book is silent on some of these topics.

The author details plans for short, day trips and longer passages of many days, both coastal and bluewater.

There are checklists in the appendix which helps skippers prepare before setting out. And he offers this tongue-twister, borrowed from the military: “Proper planning and preparation prevent pretty poor performance.”


Explore Spain the Frommer's way

Frommer's Spain
By Alexis Flippin, 19th Ed.
John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Softcover, 04 (portable), 790 (Spain)
www.frommers.com

Frommer’s offers a couple of different styles of travel guides suitable for different types of travelers – perhaps one for the younger set who want to blaze their own trail, and the other for more mature travelers, who enjoy lots of research prior to leaving home.

The more “portable” guide (covering various Caribbean locales) is printed on paper stock and fits into your pocket, while the more detailed guide (Spain) is printed on glossy paper and includes a large, pull-out map, 246 colour photographs on various tourism sites, along with colour maps on regions and cities, along with an extensive “best” lists on top festivals, small towns, food and drink and outdoor experiences.

The more concise or portable guide has limited information on towns in the Caribbean, while the full guide on Spain offers plenty of information on little towns that dot the Spanish countryside, inviting readers to get off the main path.

The full edition guide is much more detailed on a variety of topics (like new museums which just opened, or local customs like flamenco dancing, for instance), while the portable version skips over the extra details.

These travel guides are well worth the read, before you head out or even to begin planning your trip, and the guides are updated regularly. Have a great trip.


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