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Book Notes March 2007

Tragedy and triumph racing around the world

The 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race brought not only unprecedented speed records (563 nautical miles in 24 hours by a monohull sailing vessel), but also the loss of one of the boats and the death of an accomplished sailor.

Rob Mundle’s “Life at the Extreme: The Volvo Ocean Race Round the World 2005-2006” ($44.95, Nomad Press, 2006) details the 31,350-nautical-mile endurance test.

The book recounts the race from Leg 1’s fire aboard ABN AMRO One to the loss of ABN AMRO Two’s Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets in Leg 7.

“Hans was the only one left to complete the mission when, in an instant, ABN AMRO Two ploughed into the wave ahead at around 25 knots, nose-diving as it rolled to windward,” Mundle writes.

The race ended in Göteborg, Sweden, with American skipper Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean claiming the top spot for the leg and second place overall. (ABN AMRO One was the overall winner.)

In addition to glossy action shots of the race, the book also features Times Gone By, a chronicling of the Volvo Ocean Race beginning in 1973, and a glossary of racing terminology.

Contact: Nomad Press,

Cruising cats are here to stay

As multihulls continue to grow in popularity, Gregor Tarjan’s “Catamarans: Every Sailor’s Guide” ($39.95, Chiodi Publishing, October 2006) aims to provide readers with insight into the world of cruising catamarans.

The first part, Multihull Characteristics, is a general overview of multihulls. It compares catamarans with monohulls, discussing advantages such as speed (“Higher maximum and average speeds is what multihulls are all about,” Tarjan writes), draft, stability and safety. With higher average speeds, shallower draft and non-heeling platforms, a more secure operating environment is created, he explains.

The second and third parts, Multihull Parameters and Multihull Seamanship, are more technical. The parameters section highlights mathematical formulas that demonstrate a boat’s performance in varying conditions. For example, the Bruce Number (BN) is calculated as the square root of the upwind sail area divided by the cube root of the weight of the boat (in pounds); the higher the coefficient, the faster the boat and better its performance in light air. “A heavy displacement monohull might have a BN of 0.7, whereas a modern cruising catamaran shows a BN of 1.3,” he explains.

The Seamanship section tackles the finer points of sailing cats, such as sailing downwind, reefing and jibing. “The key is to maintain as much boat speed as possible in order to reduce Apparent Wind,” says Tarjan.

The final part illustrates — with color photos, specs and blueprints — some noteworthy catamarans, such as the Atlantic 55, Lagoon 410, Maine Cat 41 and Yapluka 70.

Tarjan is a merchant marine officer, a Coast Guard-licensed captain, and founder and president of Aeroyacht Ltd, a company specialized in cruising multihulls and large luxury catamarans.

Contact: Chiodi Publishing, (800) 333-6858.

Managing the liveaboard lifestyle

A voyaging crew must serve as ship’s engineer, doctor and cook among other duties. To achieve this, planning and preparation are needed, according to Beth Leonard’s “The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Bluewater Cruising, 2nd edition” ($39.95, McGraw-Hill Companies, 2007).

The handbook features easy-to-use graphs and charts, and is split into five sections: The Essential Ingredients; Refitting and Equipping the Yacht for Bluewater Voyaging; Liveaboard Skills; Shorthanded Passagemaking Skills; and Foreign Savvy. Leonard looks at fundamentals of cruising, such as assembling a crew, on-deck essentials and anchoring are discussed: “Wave protection matters more than wind protection. … You are better off in a gale anchored 50 yards behind a reef that blocks the waves but not the wind than anchored a mile offshore in half the wind and twice the chop.” The guide also highlights tips to manage squalls; for instance, Leonard advises, read the rain: “If the black wisps under the squall that mark the rainfall are straight down, there is little wind within the squall. If they are swept off to one side, beware!”

Leonard’s voyaging experience includes a three-year, 35,000-mile circumnavigation with her partner, Evans Starzinger, in 1995, and a 60-day, 9,000-mile nonstop passage through the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean.

Contact: McGraw-Hill Company, (800) 262-4729.

Aquaculture’s devastating effects

While the rationale behind aquaculture development is to increase the global supply of seafood and to create jobs in declining fisheries, Paul Molyneaux’s book, “Swimming in Circles” ($15.95, Thunder’s Mouth Press, February 2007) aims to enlighten its readers to the harsher reality of depleted ecosystems. Molyneaux wonders: How likely is it that restoration of ecological function will become a top priority?

His case studies, based in eastern Maine and northwestern Mexico, illuminate these problems: “In 1992, Canada declared a moratorium on the Newfoundland cod fishery. … Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans realized cod had been fished at 60 to 80 percent exploitation rate.” Thirteen years later, he continues, the fishery remains closed with little hope of bouncing back.

Molyneaux emphasizes the potential damage of farm-cultured marine stock with the case of Eastern Canadian cultured salmon being released into Alaskan streams (where salmon farming was banned in 1990). He imagines then a genetically engineered world in which, according to him, the word “wild” will no longer apply.

In addition to six years as a freelance journalist covering marine issues, the author has 30 years of experience in fisheries.

Contact: Thunder’s Mouth Press, (646) 375-2570.