What We’re Listening To
Jeff Spira’s sturdy, practical, no-nonsense boat designs have been a staple on the rugged Pacific coast and beyond for decades. The owner of Spira Boats, his catalog is curated with affordable plans for everything from Pacific Power Dories to pangas, rowing skiffs and flats boats. The designer prides himself on creating designs that are not only stable and seaworthy but also easy to build. His Spotify podcast, “Spira Boat Building,” is a boat nerd’s delight, filled with content about displacement and loading, boatbuilding materials, plan modification, outboard motors and marine fasteners, and helpful tips for beginner and expert builders alike.
More salty reads
If you like Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring novels about English Navy captain Jack Aubrey, you might find Hold Fast an adventurous read. Set in the early 19th century, the new book by J.H. Gelertner begins as the British Secret Service is dealing with an unruly France under Napoleon’s leadership. It’s a bad time to lose a well-seasoned agent like Thomas Grey, who resigns from the service after his wife’s untimely death and then sets sail for Boston, where a new life as a lumber merchant awaits. But things don’t go to plan. French intelligence agents find and attempt to recruit him as an informer, exposing an imminent threat to the Brits’ intelligence infrastructure. Dealing with the breach turns out to be a threat that Grey cannot ignore, even in his newfound home country. ($26, W.W. Norton & Company)
Pass It On
Dominic Zachorne’s book Slop Chest is a project the author wrote with hopes of preserving the “old ways” of sailing by passing down the knowledge he has learned aboard a variety of craft, from small rowboats to 150-plus-foot schooners. “What I have put here in my slop chest for future crews, bo’sun’s mates and skippers applies to any vessel that crosses a yard, carries a topmast or flies a gaff.” The book covers everything from setting sail from anchor and bending and stowing a gaff topsail to anecdotes about “The Cook’s Soup.” They include explanations of traditional sailing gear, marlinspike seamanship and other topics that read more like stories than overthought descriptions. ($20, Stillwater River Publications)
What We’re Watching
Available on Netflix and a variety of other movie-streaming platforms, Last Breath is a documentary that tells the story of a diving accident that occurred in 2012, when commercial diver Chris Lemons’ umbilical cable severed, leaving him trapped more than 300 feet down in the pitch black with no heat and only a trace of breathing gas left in his reserve tank. Filmmakers Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson used audio and video footage captured from the divers’ radios and video cameras to recreate the stunning tale of the accident and Lemons’ eventual rescue. (86 minutes, Dogwoof)