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Book Notes

“Here on the first nights of the years when the mountains are darker than the sky and the sky is darker than the sea, it is hard to believe that our planet is actually closest to the sun.”

— A Coastal Companion

Change is in the air in the Gulf of Maine

“A Coastal Companion” by Catherine Schmitt ($20, Tilbury House Publishers, 2008) is a year in study of the wildlife of the Gulf of Maine and its watershed, which includes land from eastern Massachusetts to southwestern Nova Scotia.

Schmitt’s detailed research takes the form of a day-by-day journal, giving readers a feel for the change of the seasons and how nature adapts. Accentuating the text are whimsical pen-and-pencil illustrations by Margaret Campbell and Kimberleigh Martul-March depicting everything from a wide-mouthed short-horned sculpin to a curious snow bunting to seascapes.

Schmitt is a science writer for the Maine Sea Grant College Program and believes that combining art and science is a way to make science more accessible to a wider audience. She currently resides in Maine. For information, visit

Sailing sleuth youth finds intrigue, adventure

For a good fictional story featuring pirates, treasure and high-seas adventure, look no further than “Nick of Time” by Ted Bell ($17.95, St. Martin’s Press, 2008). Best known for his New York Times best-selling series about Alexander Hawke, the suave British super-spy, Bell takes a different approach by focusing his attention on 12-year-old Nick McIver who spends his summers sailing around his lighthouse home in the English Channel. When Nick finds a box hidden in the cliffs with his name engraved on the top, he can’t imagine the intrigue and adventure it foreshadows, as well as the grave responsibilities.

The author was the vice chairman of the board and worldwide creative director for the advertising agency Young and Rubicam before he retired in 2001 to write. He now lives in his native state of Florida. For information, visit .

You can land the real deal with a fake lure

“Fishing Soft Baits in Saltwater” by Pete Barrett ($16.95, Burford Books, 2008) details how fishermen (and women) can get the most out of soft plastic lures. Through photos and illustrations, Barrett takes the reader through the secrets of trolling, jigging, drifting and casting soft baits for all types of fish as well as how to accessorize the bait to make it more attractive.

Barrett is also the author of “Trolling For Striped Bass and Bluefish,” editor of The Fisherman magazine for 35 years, and the operator of the inshore and offshore fishing charter boat Linda B in New Jersey for 25 years. For information about the book, visit

From A to Z, a guide to what’s out there

Even seasoned salts can enjoy the reference book, “What Ship Is That?: A Field Guide to Boats and Ships” by Bobby L. Basnight ($15.95, The Lyons Press, 2008).

In its second edition, the book includes illustrations by the author of all types of boats and ships from military and government vessels to recreational boats found in the harbor. The front and back covers feature, in color, the codes of signal flags and answering pennants. Over the course of 200 pages, Basnight reviews nearly 100 types of vessels. D.J. Dodds, author of “Modern Seamanship,” says it best: “What Audubon is to birds, Basnight is to ships.”

Basnight lives in Newport News, Va., and is a lifelong sailor, noted maritime artist and a designer of recreational, commercial and naval vessels. For information, visit .

A “purrfect” primer on various catboats

Catboats are known as sturdy, safe, family-friendly sailboats. Some sailors, however, view cats another way.

“The Competitive Cat: Racing Small Gaff-Rigged Catboats” by Bill Welch, MD, details how owners of these vessels can break into competitive racing, as well as how to increase speed. In addition to racing, Welch also provides a resource section for competition rules, restoration tips and how to buy parts.

Welch has been a sailor throughout his medical and surgery career and has been commodore of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and U.S. Snipe Class National Secretary. He resides in Massachusetts and Florida with his wife Sherry, and both sail a Marshall 15, appropriately named “Purrfect.” For information, visit .

How to make space in the galley you have

When your galley is the size of a postage stamp, how creative can you get? Very creative, according to Good Old Boat magazine.

Their new book on CD, “Good Old Boat Galley Book” ($19.95, PDF format, 2008), compiles tips, tricks and recipes from various staff sources and past articles in the print magazine on how to get the most out of the space you have. Written in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, topics covered include drying foods, life without a cooler, baking bread on a stovetop, harvesting from the sea and even how to raise herbs on board. The book also addresses food needs for day cruisers as well as circumnavigators.

Good Old Boat Magazine was founded by Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas and is located in Maple Grove, Minn. To order a copy of the book on CD, visit