Boating books reviews: Before He Was A Guru

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Before He Was A Guru


If you’ve read any DIY boat repair or maintenance books, there’s a pretty good chance Nigel Calder wrote one of them. Known for his detailed, well-illustrated and easy-to-understand instructions, Calder writes about everything from diesels to electrical systems. Of course, he wasn’t always a cruising veteran. In his new book Shakedown Cruise, Calder recounts his first serious adventure aboard his home-built, Atkin-designed sailboat Nada with his partner, Terrie, and their first child. Leaving from New Orleans, the couple head toward the Caribbean, where they learn to troubleshoot their diesel, run aground and navigate the old-fashioned way — without electronics. Seasoned adventurers and cruising newbies alike should enjoy reading about Calder’s rookie mistakes, as well as learning from his triumphs. ($25, Adlard Coles)

The Final Frontier


In 1928, America was high on a mix of illegal liquor, a booming stock market, jazz and a spirit of adventure. Antarctica in the ’20s was a mystery to most, and Commander Richard Byrd wanted to explore it. Hundreds of people were eager to join him on the first American Antarctic expedition, even if they had to wash dishes for the opportunity. Other folks snuck on board as stowaways, including New York City high school student Billy Gawronski. In The Stowaway, Laurie Gwen Shapiro tells the true story of Gawronski’s effort to escape what he saw as a dreary future in his family’s upholstery business. The voyage takes the teen­ager deep into Antarctica by way of Tahiti and other exotic locations. ($26, Simon & Schuster)

Essence Of Havana


Robin Lloyd’s Harbor of Spies is a historical novel set in Havana in 1863, when the U.S. Civil War was raging and the Cuban capital was rife with war-related espionage. American ship captain Everett Townsend ends up as a blockade runner, and his rescue of a man outside Havana Harbor entangles him in a sensitive murder investigation. The skipper ends up working for a Spanish merchant who introduces him to an underworld of spies, blockade runners and other shady characters. He eventually unravels a deep family secret. The book also paints a vivid picture of Spanish Colonial Havana at a time when the city was rich with sugar wealth and corruption. ($25, Lyons Press)

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue.