Saturday, June 21, 2008

Five best books about sailing

Sir Robin Knox-Johnson is the first person to have sailed solo and nonstop around the world.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a list of his favorite books about sailing. Number One on his list:
The Last Grain Race
by Eric Newby
Houghton Mifflin, 1956

In the late 1930s, when the young Eric Newby signed on for an around-the-world voyage on a working square-rigger, war clouds were gathering all over the world as nations rearmed, and newer, faster vessels were being launched. Amid this frenzied activity, cargoes of grain were still being transported to Europe from Australia in sailing ships. Fewer than a dozen of these mighty windjammers remained, but their sailors, as men will, still competed to make the fastest voyage -- hence "The Last Grain Race." To hang over an icy spar that rolled and jerked while trying to haul in a stiff, ice-covered sail in howling winds with sleet lashing exposed flesh -- that was the truth of rounding Cape Horn. There was no romance in it, just back-breaking labor for 12 hours a day, more if the ship needed it. Newby faithfully recorded this experience and many others, conveying the feel of life on the great sailing ships.
Read about the other titles on Knox-Johnson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue