Literary Nonfiction

I am taking a creative writing course through the University of Iowa called Writing Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction. This is my second submission; a piece I wrote (All names have been altered and some characters are credited with words/actions they did not say.) I am not particularly satisfied with it as it is more didactic that I wanted. Any comments or suggestions you might have will be received gratefully.


“A Traveller’s Insights”

After visiting Guatemala for two weeks in January with my husband, I found the perfect place to spend the rest of the winter: Antigua. Eduardo headed home, and I settled in with a “home stay” taking Spanish classes in the morning and doing volunteer work in the afternoon. This is the way I like to travel, nice and slow.

Antiqua is a lovely colonial city about an hour outside of Guatemala City. It is known for its spring-like weather, Spanish schools, and spectacular Easter celebrations. There are many tourists just passing through and many students who take classes. Most are housed in private homes advertised to give one a true experience of living with a family. This is what I wanted, imagining myself making tasty local dishes with the lady of the house. In fact, most homes are extremely basic; food is simple and sparse. Meals are served to the guests who are all foreign students from various parts of the world. It became depressing very quickly. When the “mother” refused to allow me to boil water for tea on Sunday when she did not cook for us, I decided to look for another place.

After visiting some other homes the school recommended, I chose to spend more money and rent a lovely room in a gracious home, through Airbnb. The hostess was a university prof who turned out to be good company when she wasn’t working one of her three jobs.

The school was close by. I would walk briskly in the cool morning through the cobbled streets greeting passers-by with a friendly, “Buenos días.” It is considered impolite not to speak to people you meet in the streets. The instructors were mostly women. We often chatted around the coffee pot before classes started. One day, I overheard them discussing an upcoming meeting with the administration.  “It is not what they promised.” “I have to supply all my own materials.” “Let’s keep the discussion to the most important issue: money.” And their voices grew softer, as more students entered the room.

My instructor, Maia, came to my table later than usual, after getting herself a cup of coffee. She looked angry. I had been sitting there waiting; I smiled and said, “Hacen huelga?” Going on strike? She smirked and said, “Tal vez, we just might.” Then upon further discussion, I discovered they only earned Q400 quetzales a week. That is just a bit over $50 US dollars or $70 Canadian, far less than I was paying the school. And for 20 hours a week! These instructors could make more cleaning houses. The young woman who cleaned our house earned Q500 for the same number of hours.

“I bet those foreigners working in the office earn more than that,” I mused. “And this school is supposed to be a charitable organization. That is why I chose to study here over a privately owned school. I should complain to the head office in Europe.”

“Por favor, no,” Maia whispered, “you will get me into trouble.”

I quit the next week, and found a tutor, a university prof who taught Guatemalan history at university at night and Social Studies at a private high school by day. Q65 ($9 US/$12 CND) an hour sounded steep at first, but I was only going to take 3 to 5 hours a week.

Marisol was great. She pushed me to read texts that dissected the recent civil war, or the workings of the corrupt government officials, or current events. She got me writing in Spanish, something I find difficult and rather embarrassing as my level of writing does not reflect my thoughts very well, but this is what I wanted: a challenge, insight into the country, and discussion.

In the next few weeks, I met many other women who lived in Guatemala, most of them American or Canadian. Some spent the winters in Antigua; others worked, or stayed home while their husbands worked for foreign companies; others lived here permanently, going home just for special occasions.

One younger German woman was married to a Guatemalan. He was an architect. They had a nice condo, and a young baby. Although they had been together for many years, the baby seemed to driving them apart. Paula no longer had an income and missed her freedom; her daughter took up all of her time.  Francisco loved his daughter but found his wife distant, moody, and aggressive. I could understand having been married to a Mexican for the last thirty years. Intercultural marriages are difficult, especially when you are far from family.

Most women I met were older, retired like myself. They enjoyed each other’s company, and the good life in this country where foreign money goes much further than at home.

Dale, a single woman, shared a house with another woman in a chic district on the outskirts of Antigua. She organized money raising activities for a small charitable organization she had started ten years ago. She also enjoyed a varied and busy social life with many male companions both Guatemalan and foreign. At home it had never been so easy.

Susan was also having a second chance at love. She had met a fellow American, Sid, who was enjoying being a musician in his retirement. They both might have attended Woodstock judging by the way they dressed.

Andrea was more my type. She enjoyed hiking and bird watching; she spoke decent Spanish and was involved in the local drama group doing mostly ‘behind the scenes’ work, but with Guatemalans. She had even met some of the more famous movie actors.

All of these people lived in beautiful houses; all had domestic help; everyone could afford trips home. They were all involved to some degree in the local life.

Looking at life for Guatemalans, life is not so rosy even in Antigua, a relatively wealthy city. Many mothers spent their days on the streets selling baubles to the tourists, local and foreign. Most had a baby tied onto their back or on their hip. Others had one or more toddlers playing along beside them. Many small school-age children would help them hawk their wares, or look after their younger siblings. Older girls, around ten to fifteen could often been seen carrying a baby. I found out that Guatemala has a very high rate of young girls getting pregnant, as early as ten, so one never knew if the baby was a sibling or one of their own children. Boys might shine shoes, or sell wheelbarrows of peanuts. There weren’t so many boys; maybe they stayed at home and worked on the land.

Gladys, one woman I met, had befriended many of these boys. “Too often,” she told me, “they end up dead.” Elaborating she explained, “They are recruited into gangs and are either killed while committing a crime or by a rival gang.”

The level of violence in the country leads many youth to flee into Mexico on their way to the United States. Only a few are successful and even fewer avoid severe violence during their voyage.

Most local workers live in villages surrounding Antigua where housing is exorbitantly expensive by Guatemalan standards. “In these towns,” Maia explained, “gangs rule everyone’s life.” I was robbed at gunpoint just a year ago, on the street in broad daylight. It is not just tourists who have to be careful.”

Very few criminals are caught and charged. Those who are face worse violence in prison. While I was getting my nails done one afternoon, the esthetician’s boyfriend asked me, “Did you see that short video of a young woman being beaten and robbed by two guys on a motorcycle?”

“Yes,” I said, “everybody was sharing it at school. It went viral in Antigua. It was right in this neighbourhood.”

“Well,” he added, “the guy was arrested and sent to prison. Yesterday someone slit his throat.”

Slowly, I was understanding why Guatemalans took so many precautions: guards and cameras controlling the entrance to people’s houses, or stores, warnings not to use the local buses, tuk-tuks, or even taxis, women not going out after dark, people looking the other way when someone is being beaten or robbed, and probably other reflexes I wasn’t even aware of.

I asked my tutor, Marisol, “What is the cause of all this violence? Poverty, the civil war that lasted thirty-six years, drugs? What do you think?”

“Todo eso,” all of those, she answered. “People are so poor, they see wealthy Guatemalans or rich tourists as fair game. We all look rich to them. There is no help for them from the government; many cannot even send their kids to school because they can’t afford the uniform, books, lunches and transportation. ”

“Do you think tourism helps or causes more problems here in Guatemala?” I asked.

“What do you think?” she replied.

“Both, probably. We create expectations in people. Street vendors expect us to buy something from them. Young people see how we dress, how we eat in restaurants, carry cameras and other gear around with us, travel in first-class buses or taxis. And how many tourists are cheap with the locals, bargaining over a trifle, or rarely tipping. Some young tourists even hitchhike. In a tourist town like Antigua, locals cannot afford to live here. My room costs the same per day as a language teacher earns in a week. But we also give work to the people. Many rich locals are worse than foreigners. Tourists can’t be the only problem,” I trailed off.

“And what about volunteers? Are we seen in the same way?”

She looks at me, shrugs her shoulders, “Not everyone thinks in the same way,” she says.


Small towns and beaches


Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

In an interesting change of roles, I have been the guest of Frida, a young woman who was my guest many years ago when she was only ten. Frida came to Canada to practise her English: she went to summer camp with my daughter, she caught poison ivy, she travelled out west by car with us; she marvelled at the “snow” when we crossed the glaciers between Jasper and Banff.

This past weekend, it was I who rode in the back of the van to Manzanillo. Frida and her husband, Ricardo, stopped in Comala on the way to have breakfast. We found a charming place on a side street, overlooking a lush ravine, which served some delicious Mexican breakfast dishes: chilaquiles, sopes, frijoles, fresh juices, and café, of course.


On the beach in Manzanillo and in Malaque, we snacked on fresh pineapple, jícama, cucumber, and shrimp all laced with chile and lemon. We drank green coconut water and beer in the shade of big parasols and cooled off in the beautiful waters of the Pacific.

On the way back to Guadalajara, we stopped in Sayula, a pretty town which specializes in making knives, cajeta (dulce de leche), sweet pastries and empanadas, and birria. It is also the birthplace of the author and photographer, Juan Rulfo (1917-1986).


Gathering a reading list for the Caribbean

Reading list for the Caribbean

Beside buying some books for the boat and taking some with me, if my bags don’t weigh too much, the following books have been recommended and have seemed interesting to me.

Books bought so far and sent on ahead to the boat.

Birds of Mexico and Central America: (Princeton Illustrated Checklists)
Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, by Lin Pardy
Reef Fishes Corals and Invertebrates of the Caribbean : A Divers Guide
A Guide to the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean by Mark D. Spalding, Corinna Ravilious

Discover Caribbean Islands by Ver Berkmoes, R. (A Lonely Planet Guide)

Birds of the West Indies by Arlott, Norman

Taste of the Pacific by Parkinson, Susan, Stacey, Pegy, Mattinson, Adrian


From my friend Jean: Dionne Brand’s novels, (At the Full and Change of the Moon ) they are well worth it.  She is Canadian – has won the GG’s award for poetry.  I knew her when she was a CUSO volunteer in Grenada, and go to hear her at Writers Festival events, when she’s in Ottawa. Jean also gave me a copy of An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanerhoof.

From my ex-student Melanie and friends.

Melanie: Anything by Dionne Brand

Janice: Definitely House for Mr. Biswas. Also Earl Lovelace, the Dragon can’t dance.

Gisele: An Embarrassment of Mangoes about sailing in the Caribbean and
Don’t Stop the Carnival..Herman Wouk
Cereus Blooms in the Night ..Shani Mootoo
Salt… Earl Lovelace  and The Lunatic…also Anthony Winkler

Kathryn: House for Mr. Biswas. V.S Naipaul

Dominic: The Painted Canoe. Anthony Winkler

Julia: all of Anthony Winkler books; Miguel Street for all its short stories.

Keon: Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys and Black Midas- Jan Carew

Ranolph: This is the dark time, my love, by Martin Carter (Guyana)

Simone: The White Woman on The Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Tara: Child of the Tropics – Yseult Bridges

Winnie: Small island was amazing!

Lisa: The ventriloquist’s tale by Pauline Melville

From the internet:

  1. Mutiny on the Bounty” by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
    The story on the most famous mutiny in the history of seamanship was published in various versions and each of them is equally interesting and thrilling. The book tells a story about a fearless captain Bligh and the mutiny aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. Captain Bligh was set afloat on a 23-foot open boat along with loyal sailors, equipped only with a quadrant and a pocket watch. In next 47 days he managed to sail 3,618 NM to Timor in the Dutch East Indies. The real reason of the mutiny is still disputable and discussed on multiple conferences by international experts throughout the following decades while everyone who intends to sail must know the story of Captain Bligh.
  2. Sailing Alone around the World” by Captain Joshua Slocum
    Captain Joshua Slocum is the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. This statement tells enough for itself so there is no explanation needed why this book is on this list. His last voyage took place in 1909 aboard his beloved “Spray”, when he was lost at sea, intending to explore the Orinoco River, Rio Negro and the Amazon.
  3. Three Ways to Capsize a Boat” by Chris Stewart
    Your knowledge about sailing probably would not be improved but you could definitely increase your appreciation of the many adventures you come across while sailing. The book tells the author’s memoirs of the events that happened after he agreed to captain his friend’s boat in the Mediterranean without any previous sailing experience. The author’s humor and hilarious situations will make you laugh; and make you ask yourself what kind of person one must be to take such actions as described in this book. Fortunately, the author survived all his journeys and told us the story in first person.
  4. Sailing: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail” edited by Patrick Goold
    This book consists of 15 essays on sailing. The editor is a philosophy professor while almost all of the authors of these essays are sailors. You should read this book if you are a reader, thinker or a sailor; in order to find out some thoughts about why we love sailing so much, why it involves a deal of danger, is it spiritual or aesthetic or transcendent experience, etc. This book will make you think introspectively and you would probably find some answers on the questions you did not have courage to ask yourself yet…
  5. Wildtrack” by Bernard Cornwell
    The author very skillfully blends the sailing dimension with the traditional aspects of the thriller novel putting the narration in the mouth of a perfect sailor-hero. The main character literally just wants to sail away from his routine but finds himself in the thrilling situations involving intrigue, love, action, bad guys and good guys… This book refers to the typical reading for relaxed sailing trip, especially if you don’t like to be involved in the navigation and route planning too much.
  6. Circle of Bones” by Christine Kling
    This time the author leads us in the middle of the adventure of seeking for a submarine sunk in World War II. I recommend this book to all that like to ‘sail away’ in their thoughts and experience a modern version of a treasure hunt. Unlike almost all novels written on a similar pattern, the story is about the lady who leads us through the adventures. Our perfect sailor-hero is female, Maggie Riley, an ex-Marine, who sails her 40-footer into the Caribbean…
  7. Voyages of a Simple Sailor” by Roger D. Taylor
    It is a collection of three autobiographical narratives by the British sailor Roger Taylor. He tells us about almost five decades of his life at sea. He highlights his key voyages expressing his thoughts about traditional seamanship, independence, and self-reliance – ‘qualities that to many seem increasingly lost in today’s high-tech, equipment-focused world of sailing.’
  8. Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche
    A girl that is afraid of water and has never sailed finds herself aboard a small sailing boat along with a guy that follows his dreams. Apparently, the love occurred when those two met and how this all happened and ended is written in this adorable true story. Since the narrator has no previous sailing experience this book brings us totally different perspective of sailing, unlike the books written by the ‘old sea lions’.

_Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Pirates_ by Paul and Rachel Chandler with Sarah Edworthy. Liveaboards Paul and Rachel Chandler, who sail a 38-footer, Lynn Rival, might as well be that cruising couple a few docks over. You know—the pair you’ve known for years. But they have a miraculous adventure story to tell. Hostage is a fascinating, no-frills account of being attacked and held captive by Somali pirates for over a year. This raw, cautionary tale illuminates the reality of life-threatening situations and reveals how the couple survived and existed in bizarre confines. It’s a page-turner worth jumping into from the safety of your own cabin—far, far away from the coast of Somalia.
-Sydney Rey

Cornell’s Ocean Atlas: Pilot Charts for All Oceans of the World by Jimmy and Ivan Cornell Seasoned voyagers know that pilot charts—the month-by-month analyses of winds and currents, rendered in easily understood “wind roses” that depict the strength and directions of each—are one of the most valuable tools for passage planning. The problem, according to author and routing guru Jimmy Cornell and his globe-girdling son, Ivan, was that much of the data in existing pilot charts, in these days of ever-changing worldwide weather patterns, had grown outdated.

With the publication of Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, that’s no longer the case. By employing the latest technology and weather information compiled via satellite over the last two decades and by quadrupling the number of roses on their clearly illustrated collection of transoceanic charts, the Cornells have not only updated a valuable resource but also substantially broadened it. For more background info, visit their website.
-Herb McCormick

Gib’s Odyssey: A Tale of Faith and Hope on the Intra-coastal Waterway by Walter G. Bradley (2011; Lyons Press. Gib Peters, a man who was diagnosed with A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at the age of 67, is determined to beat death. His true story will have you thanking your lucky stars as he sets off on a single-handed cruise from Key West to New York to test his character against all odds. Bradley, a neurologist, chronicles Gib’s six-month voyage through the sailor’s emails to friends and family as his mind stays sharp but his body slowly deteriorates. Meanwhile, the hardship and hilarity he encounters aboard his 29-foot powerboat, Ka Ching, easily drowns out the hum of his engines. Gib will have you laughing, crying, and hugging your loved ones a little tighter. But most important, he’ll inspire you to throw off those dock lines and take on life with everything you’ve got, whether via power or sail.
-Sydney Rey


_Street’s Guide to the Cape Verde Islands_ by Don Street Jr. Don Street’s guides are the gold standard, especially when it comes to venturing off the beaten path, and this is one of his best efforts. It’s vintage Street: highly opinionated, fiercely passionate, and totally comprehensive. It has everything you need to know, plus valuable information on downwind cruising rigs and useful details once you reach your destination in the eastern Caribbean. Of particular interest are the sections on clearing in and provisioning.

If you like your nautical literature penned by the light of a swaying kerosene cabin lamp, this is the book for you. What’s amazing isn’t that Don was my favorite guidebook writer when I was a teenager, but that he continues to be today, when I’m in my 60s. They don’t make ’em like Don anymore. Five stars. -Cap’n Fatty Goodlander

_Last Lights: The Hand Wound Lighthouses of the Bahamian Islands_ by Annie Potts Annie Potts paints an intimate portrait of the islands and its people through her personal interaction with the keepers of the last three kerosene-burning, hand-operated lighthouses in the world. The book delivers much more than the title alone suggests, including striking photography, and will enrich the experience of all who sail upon these challenging waters.

_Here We Are: The History, Meaning, and Magic of GPS_ by Jim Carrier If you use or have been exposed to GPS—and who hasn’t, these days?—put this short, informative, and entertaining book on your “must read” list. Carrier, a renowned sailor, writer, and filmmaker, uses his storyteller’s skills to relate the history and evolution of GPS, the politics involved in same (including how it nearly didn’t happen), and an explanation of the technology in terms even self-proclaimed technophobes can understand.

“I believe,” he says, “that 50 years from now, historians will place GPS on the short list of inventions, alongside the clock, electricity, and the Internet, that are truly indispensible.” The same could be said for this well-focused and eminently readable
nugget of a book.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Cooking Aboard A Small Boat—Feeding the Small-Boat Sailor_ by Paul Esterle Appropriately, this entire volume is devoted to the heart of any vessel, large or small—the galley, including the self-described “meat” of the book, 55 pages of satisfying, one-pot-or-pan (or bowl or cup) recipes targeted at preparation aboard a small boat. There are helpful tips on stoves and fuels, storage, tools and utensils, and shelf-stable food products. It’s a must for any trailerable-boat sailor who doesn’t want to eat like one.
-Lynda Morris Childress__

_The Sacrament of Sail: Finding Our Way_ by Matts G. Djos with Jeanine J. Djos If you’re one of those who thinks sailing is a rich man’s sport, this book will change your mind. Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t a religious tome, but a collection of heartfelt accounts by a lifelong-sailing couple of adventures on the lakes and coasts of the central and western U.S. in a succession of older, small boats. The well-written narratives reflect the authors’ magnificent obsession with sail. To paraphrase them: It all lies before you. All you must do is find a way, search out a sea, and set sail. For starters, pick up this book.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Sequoiah Speeds: Memoir of a Family Afloat___ by Helen S. Warren Reluctant first mates, particularly females, will find this account of a cruising sabbatical—in which a South Carolina family takes an Endeavour 32 across the pond and back for a yearlong European adventure—both educational and informative. The author, who set out because it was her husband’s passion but admits that she’s now caught the “sailing disease,” has chronicled the cruise and day-to-day life aboard with a pre-teen and an early teen. This well-written tale is informative reading for any family considering doing the same thing.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Family Aweigh—They Lived the Dream___ by Michael Holt  It’s rare to find a nautical writer who can successfully combine good prose with laugh-out-loud wry humor, and Michael Holt succeeds brilliantly in this tale of an English family, including three teenage kids, who decide to change their lifestyle by chucking their land lives to go cruising. It doesn’t matter that their vessel of choice, Jernica (a name derived from combining the childrens’ names), is a motoryacht—the cruising trials, tribulations, and rewards are the ones that sailors know, and you’ll laugh as you enjoy every word of this family’s adventures seeking and finding a boat and their subsequent romp through the Med.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Usborne Spotter’s Guide: Flags of the World _by William Crampton Before leaving U.S. waters, we rarely had the opportunity to puzzle over the national identity of boats we encountered. Now we seem to consult our flag book daily to identify neighbors in our anchorages.-Jan S. Irons

Weather: An Introduction to Clouds, Storms, and Weather Patterns These works help answer questions about clouds overhead or triple rainbows, among others. The format of Instant Weather Forecasting juxtaposes a full-page photo of a cloud with a chart listing the weather trends and timing associated with that cloud, including wind, visibility, precipitation, temperature, and barometric pressure.
-Jan S. Irons

Weather Predicting Simplified: How to Read Weather Charts and Satellite Images by Michael Carr This is the best reference manual for weatherfaxes, surface-analysis charts, and wind/wave charts that we’ve come across. Written by a licensed captain who’s also been a professional weather router for world voyagers, it’s useful for understanding weather forecasts, identifying unrecognized symbols on surface-analysis and wind/wave charts, and providing basic information necessary for learning to predict weather.
-Jan S. Irons

Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road ($5; 1998; Klutz). This book answers such general questions as “What is that bright star?” Skies in the tropics are so dazzling that you’ll want to know where and when to spot planets, stars, meteor showers, and comets so you can relax on deck and take in the heavenly show.-Jan S. Irons

Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner’s Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor by Peggie Hall If the bilge perfume won’t go away, if you need a new head and don’t know which to buy, or if you don’t know when to replace your sanitation hoses, then this book is for you. We don’t need to refer to it as often as we refer to the others, but when it’s necessary, it instantly becomes the most important book aboard!

-Jan S. Irons
Atlantic Circle by Kathryn Lasky Knight This sailing classic, first published in 1985, is now available as an e-book. Sailing has come a long way in terms of technology and creature comforts since the author’s voyages more than 30 years ago with her husband, Chris Knight, aboard Leucothea, their Bermuda 30 ketch. Nonetheless, today’s readers, especially reluctant first mates—as the author initially was—will love Knight’s rendering of transatlantic adventures, which include coastal and canal sojourns in Scandinavia and Europe. Her razor-sharp wit, keen observations, and top-notch writing provide amusing entertainment at its best.

-Lynda Morris Childress
Matinicus – An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott  Sailor Darcy Scott has written a blockbuster novel that intertwines past and present on the Maine island of Matinicus. Seen primarily through the eyes of Gil Hodges, a hard-drinking visiting botanist, events unfold involving a 200-year-old journal, a restless ghost, clannish lobstermen, quirky locals, and a seductive female singlehanded sailor. All are interwoven in this tale of mystery and murder that will keep you turning pages till you reach an ending guaranteed to shock even diehard “whodunit” fans. Two more novels are in the works for an “Island Mystery” trilogy featuring the wry-witted Hodges. That’s good news, because this novel will leave you wanting more of the best male protagonist to come along since Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.
-Lynda Morris Childress
Across Islands and Oceans: A Journey Alone Around the World By Sail and By Foot by James Baldwin In the mid-1980s, the author set sail alone in his 28-foot Pearson Triton, Atom, on a circumnavigation that took him two years to complete. It was a no-frills voyage done on a lean budget, and it was accomplished the old-fashioned way, with good seamanship, including navigation by sextant and charts and few but the real sort of bells and whistles aboard. This is the well-crafted story of a young man’s voyage of self-discovery coupled with a desire to absorb and learn from the people and cultures he experiences. He finds friendship, love, and danger in this tale, whose only detriment is its lack of an epilogue. Readers can only hope that Baldwin will provide us with one in another finely written book about his subsequent sailing as well as land-based adventures.
-Lynda Morris Childress
South from Alaska: Sailing to Australia with a Baby for Crew by Mike Litzow The opening quote from Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, “There is no life like the sea, where reality falls so short of romantic expectation,” is a fitting start for South from Alaska, a book that speaks to both sides of the brain simultaneously and without contradiction. Litzow, whose articles have appeared in CW, writes of the physical and emotional hardships of leaving it all behind and sailing from Alaska to Australia with his wife and 10-month-old child aboard Pelagic, a 25-year-old Crealock 37. He describes it in prose so beautiful, and with such a dose of self-deprecating comic relief, that you yearn to be there with them, forging ahead to realize a shared dream. And if I weren’t already cruising, his honest account would boost my own romantic notions of life at sea.
-Michael Robertson
MoonWind at Large: Sailing Hither and Yon by Matthew Goldman For those who love to relax and read while aboard and who delight in the humor of works like Farley Mowat’s The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, this is next on your list. Goldman, an author and columnist, has compiled these essays, some previously published, others not, along with his thought-provoking illustrations. His writing is full of common sense.

As well, the adventures of the crew of Moon Wind, a 26-foot Chris-Craft Pawnee exploring the shores of southeastern New England in search of the mystical land of Mass, where they speak a different language, will keep you turning the pages.
-Rick Martell
A Comprehensive Guide To Marine Medicine by Eric A. Weiss and Michael E. Jacobs The authors, nationally recognized emergency medical doctors (Jacobs is also an experienced racing sailor), have honed this edition into a highly readable, practical, and insightful resource bursting with detailed advice about every possible physical malady, injury, and condition that can happen on and in the water. Advances in emergency communication, updated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation guidelines, how-to illustrations, and an expanded table of contents, index, and appendices make this manual a must-have.

-Elaine Lembo


1) Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

If you are looking for a page-turner with a story set in exotic places to awake your adventure spirit, Pirate Latitudes is the perfect book. Set in in 17th century’s Jamaica, in a far corner of the British Empire, the book tells the story of privateer Captain Charles Hunter, who plans to launch a risky attack on a nearby Spanish base, Matanceros. Buccaneers, deadly perils, hurricanes, cannibal tribes and even sea monsters will let you feel as a pirate searching for your gold.

2) The Swarm: A Novel of the Deep by Frank Schätzing

A contemporary story with an extraordinary, but plausible plot that will let you look at the sea as never before. A sensational series of natural disasters, two marine biologists and an entity in the ocean, are the main ingredients of this striking adventure. You’ll follow the characters trying to prevent the destruction of humankind; and you might find yourself wondering if that scary creature is under the catamaran you are on…


3) The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to this book, Hemingway won a Nobel Prize for literature and a Pulitzer. Why? Because this short novel is a masterpiece, a perfect story, a timeless plot about beauty and humankind’s attempt to survive in the nature. In these few pages, not a word is too much. You can easily empathize with the protagonist, an old fisherman called Santiago, while you are sailing on hopefully not so tumultuous waters.

4) Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome

After all these serious books, Yacht + Yoga has chosen a masterpiece of humour in perfect British style. Initially intended to be a serious travel guide, the humorous elements took over the serious ones. The jokes are fresh and hilarious even today.


5) Sailing: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail by Patrick Goold

Sailing could be a spiritual and transcendental experience. During your trip, you could comtemplate a breath-taking sunset, stare at the horizon or feel the wind rippling through your clothes. Patrick Goold, a philosophy professor, collected 15 essays on sailing, written by sailors, telling us why navigating the sea, with all its perils, is a much loved affair.

On Mindfulness

8) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Santiago, a Spanish shepherd, one day finds the courage to follow his dreams and leave everything. He started a trip to far lands: during his journey, the people he met and the things he saw changed his life. While you are reading it on the Yacht + Yoga catamaran, you can be inspired by this enlightening book and find your inner peace.


9) Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater

You do not have time, you have too many things to do, you cannot afford a yoga course or once a week is not enough for you? Judith Hanson Lasater sees everyday life as a way to practice familiar poses and breathing techniques. Reading Leaving Your Yoga it is possible to find your own everyday spirituality and fully enjoy yoga everywhere, whenever you want to or can, especially while you are sailing…

My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David-Neel (1927)

Tracks, Robyn Davidson (1980) (the woman who walked across Australian with 2 camels and a dog.)

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez (about 3 women assassinated in the D.R. under Trujillo.)

The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life by Ann Vanderhoof

Torre DeRoche published her love story, Love with a Chance of Drowning,

A Hundred years of Solitude 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho