Saturday, November 15, 2014

For boat book buffs

I haven't done a boat book post for a long time, so while I get myself settled back in the Oude Haven (more about that coming soon), I thought I'd write a heads up about some great new boat books I've come across lately.

Now I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I am a terrible sailor - not that I'm bad at it (I never got the chance to find that out) - I just get chronically sick. I learnt this when I was at school and took up the option of doing sailing lessons for sport. I didn't even manage a full lesson and had to be carried ashore, paralysed with sickness. I've tried since, and on numerous channel crossings the same thing has happened, so I've realised that the sea and me are not to be.

Despite this, I'm fascinated by sailing. The idea of taking off out to sea and braving storms, calms and endless ocean without sight of anything other than the odd finned or winged thing circling around both appalls and appeals simultaneously. Because of this, I feel compelled to read about it, all the while staying safe on my inland rivers and waterways.

So here are three books I've come across lately that come highly recommended. I haven't read them all yet, but I'm really looking forward to having time to finish them as each one has a different slant that makes it an enticing read in its own way.

The first is one I've read the first half of so far, and I can't wait to have time to read the rest. It's by a writer I 'met' on Facebook's Women on Barges page, Jackie Parry. The book is called Of Foreign Build and it's really fantastic. As I told Jackie, it made me cry, laugh and quake with fear in equal measure. I won't say too much about what happens as the beginning of the book is really heart-rending, and it explains why Jackie runs away to Australia. Once there, she finds solace with a wonderful new man who, like Jackie, cherishes the idea of breaking a few moulds and living free of the corporate world of routine jobs and suburban life.

Essentially, with no experience of sailing whatsoever, Jackie takes off on a small sailing boat with her Noel to firstly sail around the Australian coast and later to cross more than a few oceans. In her first trips out, she suffers severe storms, crippling sickness, and paralysing fear. Nevertheless, such is her spirit and dauntless courage, she overcomes all of these to live her dream with Noel.  Her story is a remarkable one, and for me, the more so because she finds strengths within herself to face her terror and the tragedy that sent her half way across the world in the first place. Jackie's writing is vivid and full of the energy she exudes herself. This is a really great book that I will recommend very highly. By the way, Jackie and Noel have embarked on a new boating adventure as they are currently travelling through France on a Dutch barge. Here is a link to her website and blog.

The second of these sailing books is Whisper on the Mediterranean by Tonia Parronchi. All I've read of this so far is the free sample on Amazon, but it was enough to convince me to buy it and I'm looking forward to reading the rest! Tonia writes about her own sailing adventures with her Italian husband, Guido. Like Jackie, she had no experience of boats and sailing, and with amazing trust and pluck, she agrees to go on extended trips around Italy's coast and further with a toddler in tow. This book has a humorous and light-hearted tone, but the style doesn't completely mask the more serious challenges of how to cope with family life on a very small sailing boat with a very small child. Tonia writes beautifully and comes across as a really lovely, warm person. I know this to be true as well as we have become Facebook, blog and Twitter friends since the book came out. The opening chapters were riveting, so I am convinced the rest of the book will be just as good. Here is the link to Tonia's lovely blog too. She and Guido are currently working on a farm in Germany (yes, I know, can you think of anything more different!).


And lastly, a more serious book about sailing is Corinna Weyreter's Far Out in a Disappearing World. I've bought this, but haven't read any of it yet. Nevertheless, it is regularly in the top twenty of Amazon's Water Sports books and it has had excellent reviews. It seems to be a wonderful book about Corinna and her husband's trips to some of the more remote atholls and islands of the oceans and focuses on the threat to these environments that are clearly occurring through pollution, climate change and environmental neglect. Both Corinna and her Dutch husband Gjalt started life as physicists in the huge corporate world of Shell oil, but sold up and got out to seek the freedom they both yearned for. They are continuous cruisers and Corinna also has a great blog where readers can follow her ongoing sailing life.

Jackie Parry's book is self-published; Tonia Parronchi's and Corinna Weyreter's are published by Sunpenny Publishing's Boathooks Books. All three would make fantastic holiday reads!

Update: I've just finished reading Far Out and can confirm that it's a fascinating and really enjoyable read. It made me both yearn to go off cruising and to find ways of protecting the natural world from all of us who exploit it. If you are a sailor, you will love this book even more as it is written in sailing language, but even if you aren't, you will enjoy it on many levels: personal, environmental, travel and magical.

15 comments:

  1. Do hope I'm allowed to read these on dry land?? (Or maybe in a plane??)

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  2. I haven't read any of these, although I have put Jackie's book on my Xmas list. Now you have made me want to seek out the other two. When am I supposed to get any work done?!! X

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  3. Beautifully written Val - thanks so much Val. I do hope, Jo and Fran, that you enjoy my story.

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  4. Jo, I'd recommend the plane for you. These will keep you entertained during that long flight east!

    Fran, the answer is - you're not, or rather you won't! :) Compulsive reading, I'm afraid xx

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  5. My pleasure, Jackie. Your story is so compelling and you tell it so very well. Can't wait to get work over and studies out of the way, but knowing me, I won't be able to resist the temptation to finish reading it before I should!!

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  6. do we read the sort of books we write/the life we live? You live on a boat and read boat books, I write crime fiction (let's not mention the row of newly dug graves in the back garden) and read crime novels. Someone should research this.

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  7. Haha, CarolStar, at least I can safely live my interest as well as read and write about it Now I'm wondering whether I should encourage you to come and visit me after all….you might want to research something very risky to my health…bodies overboard, for example!! xx

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  8. You are so generous to other writers, Val.

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  9. Carol Hedges, I rarely read boat-type books and I've live most of the last 16 years on a boat! I am broadening my horizons, since writing a memoir, I am reading memoirs - it is so refreshing to read other genres - I am loving the diversity of my reading pile now, as I am making an effort to read with people I connect with and post reviews. It is great fun! :-)

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  10. Thank you very much for featuring Far Out on your blog, Val, I hope you like it. It's great to see both Watery Ways and Harbour Ways doing so well in the Amazon charts, and with all those excellent reviews you get they're bound to keep climbing. I don't know how you find the time to write with everything else you do, let alone read other people's books! Thanks again, Corinna

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  11. Thank you, Anne Marie, but in this case, these are books I love to read as well :) xx

    Jackie, it's interesting to learn that you don't read boaty books. I have done for years now. Love them!

    Corinna, you are very welcome, but about time, I don't have enough, so everything is limited, even this :)

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  12. I've read a couple of boaty books this year Val and I do really enjoy them - for a long time I was stuck in thrillers - I love to escape - I still do - but have broadened my reading material to anything now - and really enjoying it!

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  13. I read a wide rage of stuff too, Jackie, but I started reading boat books years ago when I discovered Roger Pilkington's 'Small boat through...' series. I loved the old fashioned way of writing and the history too. He travelled by boat all through Europe in the fifties and sixties and it was amazing then. From him, I branched out to the Cooper's books and then to anything else I could find. Love them - travelogues by water - what could be better!

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  14. Yes, I have been slow on the up-take - now my selection is long as it is broad! And I am really enjoying it. I am also trying to help other authors by reading and reviewing their books - so I read anything now and can't believe I was so blinkered for so many years!

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  15. Thank you not only for reading Far Out, Val, but for also having taken the time to review it on Amazon. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks again, Corinna

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