Book Notes - July 2006


Andrea Doria survivor proposes new theory

Fifty years ago off the shoals of Nantucket two ocean liners collided, the Swedish-American Stockholm and the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria. A second Titanic did not result. Instead, what took place after one of history’s most famous maritime disasters led to most passengers surviving the sinking.

This eyewitness retelling of the Andrea Doria disaster is from survivor Pierette Domenica Simpson. “Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History” (Harbor Hill Books/Purple Mountain Press, 2006, $27), is the first survivor’s account to also confront the controversial details surrounding the disaster, according to the publisher.

The moving vignettes in Part 1 recount Simpson’s own and her fellow passengers’ stories of escaping death. Hollywood star Ruth Roman remembers, “I recall the frightening crunch of the Stockholm against our ship, the twisted steel, the shouts in the night, the fear born out of not knowing exactly what would happen to us.”

In Part 2 the author tackles the legal proceedings that followed. Limits of liability halted evidence-gathering, but the mystery remained. What caused the collision in the first place and who was responsible? Simpson’s book reveals the contents of the pretrial transcripts and interprets both ships’ course recorders. Her conclusion intends, through research, to challenge previous theories.

Ship historian David Bright writes in the foreword that the information provided in the book “will clarify and correct history.”

Contact: Harbor Hill Books/Purple Mountain Press, (845) 254-4062.


New edition of official Bahamascruising guide

The official guide of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, “The Yachtsman’s Guide to the Bahamas” was first published in 1950 with 104 pages and 27 sketch charts. Now at 478 pages with 68 sketch charts, the 2006 edition ($39.95) features the standard format. There are color and black-and-white photographs throughout (both aerial and land). There are extensive resources for pre-travel planning. The What the Skipper Should Know section includes everything from garbage disposal to navigation rules. There is detailed information on marinas as well as diving, bone fishing and radio facilities. The user-friendly 6-inch-by-9-inch trim size, plastic cover, quick-reference guide on the front flap and the fold-out bookmarker/back flap are designed for travelers on the go. This guide includes the Turks and Caicos Island and Dominican Republic.

Contact: Tropical Island Publishers, (732) 625-1206.


Emergency equipment you can flip through

Boaters value self-sufficiency and self-reliance, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your most trusted advisor on board in case things ever go awry? A reliable, informative source? Tony Meisel’s “On Board Emergency Handbook: Your Indispensable Guide for Handling Any Challenge at Sea” (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2006, $24.95) is one such source, according to the publisher.

The audience for this book is those who are smart enough to realize that no matter how many lectures you attend and books you read, there’s nothing quite like a real crisis to force you to think on your feet. This illustrated handbook gives you your most important piece of emergency equipment: the knowledge to face any crisis, according to International Marine. The practical design of the book jacket — day-glo orange and yellow waterproof vinyl — ensures you’ll find it in a flash, too.

Easy-to-access alphabetized sections cover 42 emergency situations and technical challenges that could lead to emergencies. Both common and uncommon situations are addressed. For example, the author addresses what to do in the event that a mast is damaged or lost. In many cases there are several possible solutions to a problem, so readers can choose the most appropriate. Instructions are given in a step-by-step format, with flow charts and uncomplicated illustrations for at-a-glance reference.

Topics range from engine or rig failures to fires to crew overboard and, of course, medical emergencies and extreme weather. The first appendix comprises a list of suggested spare parts and tools. The second appendix is the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, itself a tool to preventing emergencies.

Meisel, who has sailed extensively in American, Caribbean and European waters, is also the author of “A Manual of Singlehanded Sailing,” “Under Sail,” and “To the Sea.”

Contact: International Marine/McGraw-Hill.


Restorers share their experience

After reading the introduction to editor and publisher Stan Grayson’s latest book, you get the sense that anyone who decides to restore a wooden boat is not someone who gives up easily.

“Restore Your Wooden Boat: How to Do It, by Those Who’ve Done It,” (Devereux Books, 2006, $17.95) is a multiauthored how-to book, but it reads just as inspirational as informational. This volume tells the stories of boat enthusiasts who have produced exceptional restorations, often on real-life budgets.

The boats are varied, including inboard and outboard runabouts, a classic daysailer, small cruising sailboat, cabin cruiser and semi-dory rowboat. Construction methods include, among others, glued-seam planking, plywood, traditional plank-on-frame and lapstrake.

If you’re thinking of restoring a wooden boat, there are all kinds of questions that you need to consider. The book covers a range, including such topics as workspace, tools, materials, cost and potential problems. Each of the eight chapters concludes with boat specs, tool list, key materials list and an author bio. There are 101 black-and-white photographs and drawings throughout.

The authors come from varying backgrounds. (There’s a doctor, an executive and a carpenter, to name a few.) Grayson, the publisher of Devereux Books, worked with the authors as they told their stories. He has written on boats and boatbuilding for many years.

Contact: Devereux Books, (781) 631-3055.