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Boating books review: Sailing stories and more

Tom Cunliffe is a sailor to the bone and one of Britain’s most notable nautical celebrities.

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In The Wake of Heroes (Bloomsbury, $25) is a collection of 40 of his favorite “Great Seamanship” columns, which he edits for Britain’s Yachting World magazine, featuring excerpts from classic yachting books. Cunliffe introduces each selection with insightful background on the writer and the excerpt. The essays are arranged by subject, such as Classic Yachting, Emergency, Long-Distance Cruising and Racing, and Voyages Under Duress. Illustrated with photos from the original books, as well as from Cunliffe’s own archives, the volume contains a wealth of on-water wisdom.

Downeast Maine by catboat

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The rugged, island- and lighthouse-dotted coast of Maine is a magnet for cruisers. Lifelong sailor W.R. Cheney chronicles his decades of solo sailing Down East aboard his engineless Marshall 22 catboat Penelope in Penelope Down East (Breakaway Books, $14). Cheney is a skilled and prudent sailor who dispenses practical advice on every page. He prefers old-school navigation and feels his way through Maine’s notorious fog by using his senses, while advocating electronic navigation devices as backup. His cruising philosophy: “I like to keep my options open. The idea is to take advantage of changing conditions and follow whatever intriguing path opens up.”

A captain’s best friend

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Reeds Ocean Handbook by Bill Johnson (Adlard Coles Nautical, $15) is a concisely written, comprehensive pocket guide stuffed with advice for those planning to venture offshore. Structured to complement Britain’s Royal Yachting Association’s Ocean Yachtmaster course, this water-resistant reference book provides navigation, weather and route-planning theory, as well as practical advice on long-distance radio communications, passagemaking and risk/emergency preparations. Color-coded sections include heavy weather tactics; traditional, celestial and electronic navigation; and provisioning. A handy glossary and subject index make finding information a snap.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue.