Book Notes June 2006


Ted Hood tells the inside story

Occasionally a man of few words decides to write his autobiography. One such quiet man, Ted Hood, is a legend.

With the publication of “Ted Hood: Through Hand and Eye, An Autobiography” by Ted Hood and Michael Levitt (Mystic Seaport, 2006, $50), readers can know the story behind the legend. Whether as the founder of Hood Sailmakers, successful America’s Cup skipper or creative marine inventor and yacht designer, the details of Hood’s life will appeal to many. Hood notes in the acknowledgments that this book is as much about his ideas as it is about his stories. Chapters are organized around career milestones, and with Hood there are many.

The story begins when he is a child sailor, and continues with sailmaking, on to his first major design, Robin, and ultimately culminates in the America’s Cups and boatbuilding. Readers are treated to such details as the tactics and sail trim of America’s Cups racers, the theory behind Hood’s yacht designs and his foray into powerboat design. Hood explores his victories as well as some losses. The book’s design is by Ted’s son, Richard Hood, with a 9-by-12-inch format and more than 200 color and black-and-white photos and illustrations. Ted Hood is still sailing in his late 70s and is busy working on new ideas, including plans for a 1,500-slip marina.

Co-author Levitt is the director of communications at the New York Yacht Club and a contributing editor to Yachting magazine.

Contact: Mystic Seaport, (800) 331-2665.


A survival guide for crisis situations

No one can deny that there will always be dangers at sea. One way to play it safer is to pick up the second edition of “Survival Guide for the Mariner” by Capt. Robert J. Meurn (Cornell Maritime Press, 2006, $35).

This guide aims to train anyone climbing aboard a boat how to best cope with disaster should it strike. Revised material includes the Search and Rescue chapter, which has been completely rewritten to provide the most up-to-date methods.

The new material covers electronic and distress equipment, and continuous progress reporting.

The book opens with safety guidelines for preparing your vessel and yourself before you actually set sail. From there, each chapter addresses a different emergency situation, including crew overboard, abandoning the vessel, survival on land and at sea, search and rescue, and return and reporting.

The appendixes include a detailed, annotated chart of survival craft and rescue boat equipment, and a table of lifesaving signals.

Meurn is a master mariner and captain and the recipient of the U.S. Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal.

He is professor emeritus in the department of marine transportation at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Contact: Cornell Maritime Press/Tidewater Publishers, (800) 638-7641.


Author tells the storyof wind and weather

Anyone affected by the recent hurricanes and tropical storms might have experienced a changed relationship to the weather. What happens outside is no longer just something “out there.” It’s become something personal — as is the forecaster’s credo.

In “Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather” (Walker & Company, 2006, $25), award-winning nature writer Marq de Villiers brings us the comprehensive story of wind. Through nature, science, history, mythology and personal accounts, he helps us understand man’s relationship to this double-edged power. The early Greeks understood that wind had both productive and destructive capacity; earth, wind, fire and water were the four universal pillars. Our culture today is no less weather-obsessed, with fears of the effects of pollution and global warming compounding daily. In eight chapters de Villiers covers a range of topics across the ages, using the story of Hurricane Ivan — the only storm on record to reach Category 5 three times — as a common thread. Readers follow Ivan from its origins in the Sahara to its destructive path in North America. The author weaves in diverse scientific facts, cultural insights and sometimes-harrowing accounts of real encounters with wind and weather.

De Villiers lives in Nova Scotia.

Contact: Walker & Company, (646) 307-5067.


Whet your appetite for Great Lakes cruising

Ontario-based Lifestyle Integrated Inc. launches three new cruising DVDs in their Discover series: “Discover Lake Huron’s North Channel,”“Discover The 1000 Islands & The St. Lawrence River” and “Discover Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands.”

These DVDs are geared toward two audiences: those planning a trip and those who want a record of travels taken. Each DVD is about two hours long.

Lifestyle Integrated is retailing these DVDs for $25 in the United States and $29.95 in Canada or on the Web. Look for the series to continue with two more per season until the Great Lakes have been covered, according to Lifestyle Integrated.

Contact: Lifestyle Integrated Inc., (705) 735-6868.