Editor’s note: Contributing Editor Joe Cooper’s Recommended Reading List, which appeared in our July and August issues, includes books that contributed to his understanding of, and approach to, making long voyages at sea. Most of these journeys were undertaken without any electronic devices for navigation or communication.
If you are thinking of going off cruising, you should read all of these books because – even though today’s cruising boats are bigger and have more electronics than the sailors of the past had – to fully understand and acquire the skills they had and used will make you a more confident and competent sailor. My wife and I did our first circumnavigation in the early seventies. We had a 30-foot Allied Seawind ketch with no electronics – not even a depth sounder. We used a lead line. To navigate, we used a sextant and Rolex watch. We did have a little shortwave receiver to occasionally get the BBC time check.
When we finally upgraded to a Valiant 40 and did our second circumnavigation in the late eighties/early nineties with our two young boys, we were totally confident of our skills and boat. I just don’t understand why many of today’s cruisers don’t even carry a sextant, let alone know how to use it. What if they are hit by lightning and lose all their electronics. All cruisers should know about sailing and what it was like in the time of the Hiscocks, etc.
Scott Kuhner, via email
Joe Cooper replies: [This is a] gratifying letter of support from a fellow who knows his stuff. Thanks, mate!