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Book Review - Sailing a Serious Ocean

Anyone contemplating their first offshore passage, particularly with a small crew, should buy and study this latest book by renowned sailor and nautical writer John Kretschmer. A one-man charter operation specializing in long distance, open ocean sailing, Kretschmer has logged more than 300,000 offshore miles including 20 transatlantic and two transpacific passages.

Sailing a Serious Ocean is a highly entertaining and engaging book, and it’s absolutely packed with lessons that might save a life one day. Even seasoned sailors will find useful information on nearly every page. “It’s an exciting mix of sea stories and seamanship,” writes the author. “It’s personal, humorous and at times terrifying. Learn what makes a boat blue water capable and how to handle it and the crew when the ocean turns angry. The book is filled with anecdotes and hard-won advice. I think you will like it.”

A chapter called “Storm Strategies” covers everything from deploying a drogue to heaving-to, and there’s an excellent sidebar on selecting a boat for sailing offshore entitled “25 Sailboats for a Serious Ocean: An Eclectic List and Some Thoughts.” Perhaps most importantly, you’ll find a wealth of information about getting along with others at sea: “Nothing is more dangerous aboard an offshore sailboat than a narcissist. Passagemaking is, in essence, a family activity even if nobody is related. And, as in the case of all families, good communication is essential. Small problems on a boat are like a stalk of ripe bananas; they go bad all at once. You need to confront them before they rot.”

John Kretschmer is the author of six books including At the Mercy of the Sea, Flirting With Mermaids and Cape Horn to Starboard. A resident of Fort Lauderdale, FL, he is a longtime contributing editor to Sailing magazine and a regular contributor to Cruising World, Sail, Blue Water Sailing, Southern Boating and Yachting Monthly. His offshore training voyages, many aboard his own Kaufman 47 Quetzal, sell out a year in advance and he is a popular seminar presenter and lecturer.

Sailing a Serious Ocean is highly recommended and it’s available from the big online retailers, although you can buy an autographed copy (and Kretschmer’s other fine books) at the online store on the author’s superb website, John Kretschmer Sailing, where you’ll also find a schedule of his offshore training passages, expeditions and workshops. For more information, log onto yayablues.com.


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