This time it’s the turn of The Practical Mariner’s Book of Knowledge, Second Expanded Edition (International Marine).
Even after more than 20 years, this book is still one of my best sellers. It began when a man I was teaching to sail in San Diego told me he was going to make a fortune by writing a book of rules of thumb for housewives: rules about ironing and cooking; rules about bringing up children; rules about keeping a slim figure to keep hubby happy; and so on.
I don’t know if he ever did write that book, but after he learned to sail I stole his idea and wrote a book of rules about something I knew quite well because I had a box full of clippings collected over the years from boating magazines: hints and tips about how to do all sorts of nautical things better, quicker, and/or cheaper. The result is a book with a waterproof cover that modestly proclaims it contains 460 sea-tested rules of thumb for almost every boating situation.
To quote my publisher: “This is either the most useful book ever designed to entertain, or the most entertaining book ever designed to be useful.” In between the whimsy, however, this book contains the essence of centuries of seafaring experience distilled into a concise reference for sailors and powerboaters.
If I may say so, it makes an appropriate gift for fellow mariners.
Here’s a review by Bernadette Bernon, then editor of Cruising World magazine:
“John knows well about earning points at sea to put in a black box of experiences, for he has had more than most. His gift as a writer is in being able to translate those experiences for the reader with intelligence, humor, and warmth of spirit. This engaging collection is a testament to that gift, and to one of the finest boating writers at work today.”
Happy New YearI WISH one and all the very happiest of New Years. Join me in lifting a glass to health, peace, and prosperity for 2014!
Today’s ThoughtThe writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.
— C. C. Colton, Lacon: Preface
Tailpiece“Gloria, did I see you sneak a gentleman into your dorm last night?”
“No, sir, you didn’t. He turned out to be no gentleman.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)