Five Best Sailing Books-Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

'Sir Robin Knox-Johnston' BW Media
What are your favourite sailing books? Or are you still compiling the list? If you are, here's some classics to put on the reading list. One of the world's most famed sailors, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, himself the subject of one of my favourite books, 'A Voyage for Madmen', has given his list to the Wall Street Journal. Here they are:

The Last Grain Race - .. .

The Last Grain Race
Eric Newby

In 1938 Eric Newby, at the age of eighteen, signed on as an apprentice of the four-masted sailing ship Moshulu of the Erikson line for the round trip from Europe to Australia and back, outwards via the Cape of Good Hope in ballast and homewards round Cape Horn with a cargo full of Australian grain. Moshulu was the largest of the dozen or so sailing ships still engaged in the grain trade which strove annually to make the shortest passage home. This was to be a historic voyage, and also a dramatic personal adventure for Newby. It also marked the debut of a man who was to become an exceptional travel writer.


Two Years before the Mast - .. .
Two Years Before the Mast
By Richard Henry Dana

While at Harvard College Dana had an attack of the measles which affected his sight. Thinking it might help his sight, Dana, rather than going on a Grand Tour as most of his classmates traditionally did (and unable to afford it anyway), and being something of a non-conformist, left Harvard to enlist as a common sailor on a voyage around Cape Horn, on the brig Pilgrim. He returned to Massachusetts two years later aboard the Alert (which left California sooner than the Pilgrim).

He kept a diary throughout the voyage, and after returning he wrote a recognized American classic, Two Years Before the Mast, published in 1840, the same year of his admission to the bar.


The Bible - unusual choice for a favourite sailing book? - .. .
The Acts of the Apostles
circa A.D. 60

This seemed, at first sight, to be an unusual choice. However, Sir Robin points to Acts Chapter 27 as one of the earliest written accounts of a storm at sea, and a shipwreck. He quotes the biblical script in an incident which occurs near Malta to St Paul, who is a prisoner at the time. 'And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.' The passage is very convincing, obviously written by someone who had experienced the events that came to pass.


Sailing Alone Around the World - .. .

Sailing Alone around the World

By Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world alone in a small boat. He personally rebuilt an 11.2 metre sloop-rigged fishing boat that he named the Spray. On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston, Massachusetts. More than three years later, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898 having circumnavigated the world, a distance of 46,000 miles (74,000 km).

In 1899 he described the voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World now considered a classic of travel literature. It is a wonderful adventure story from the Age of Sail and a book of which Arthur Ransome declared, "boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once."

Last Man Across the Atlantic - .. .
Last Man Across the Atlantic
By Paul Heiney

The Last Man Across The Atlantic
The Singlehanded Transatlantic Race is not only accorded the greatest of respect but recognised as a true test of stamina and seamanship. This book presents an account of what it is like to be out there alone. It tells how, even the strongest yacht takes a battering after 3,000 miles, there's no pit stop for repairs, sails are torn, and so on. Sir Robin gave his reasons for choosing this book as the fact that, while many many sailors had written their accounts of 'crossing the pond' alone, his was the most readable.

by Nancy Knudsen

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