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More Books for the Boat
By Barb Hansen
November 4, 2002


In part one of Books for the Boat I wrote that if I designed cruising boats I'd put a bookcase in every salon, next to every bunk and in the pilothouse, too. I'd even pick the books.

My first selections were reference books, six how-to texts for when you have to look something up. I had four books in the Cruising Classics category and one in the First Read, Must Read category. Okay, it's First You Have to Row a Little Boat by Richard Bode. Bode's theme: Lessons learned in boating teach us how to navigate life.

Next category is Fun Fiction Afloat. As much as I love being on the boat, I love being transported by a book of fiction when I'm on the boat. This is especially so when your surroundings make the novel come to life. I am on a Randy Wayne White kick. He's the author who sets his mysteries in the same waterfront scenes we visit and the same waters we cruise in Southwest Florida.

The hero in all in Doc Ford, a marine biologist and one-time government agent who would rather be collecting marine specimens or kicked back in his beloved stilt house. Instead, though, he is kept busy solving mysteries and helping friends escape suspicion or bad circumstances. These are my favorites:

1. Sanibel Flats. This was the first in the Doc Ford series and a good one to read if you want to start at the beginning. Ford navigates his way through a murder maze that includes government cover-ups, a third world militia and a kidnapping.

2. The Mangrove Coast. Doc helps a young woman, the daughter of a dead war buddy, whose mother is missing, perhaps the victim of a con man.

3. Ten Thousand Islands. Who robbed the grave of an adolescent girl who had discovered Calusa Island artifacts? Enter Doc Ford.

4. Shark River. Ford faces down evil -- murder, revenge and drug moguls who want him killed.

On a boat, your world view is dominated by the Sea and the Sky. Two recommendations in this category:

1. Stars and Planets. Jay Pasachoff and Donald H. Menzel created this field guide with hundreds of color photographs to help you identify the stars, planets and constellations. Keep this text handy when out on the deck at night and marveling at the heavens on one of those clear, enchanting evenings on board.

2. Reef Fish Behavior. When you peer into the clear water from the deck of a boat and you see fish, go grab Ned Deloach's text to help you identify what you see and why those fish are doing what they're doing.

I forgot to write that my boats would also have coffee tables with lips around the edge so books don't slide off in a chop or while sliding over somebody's wake. Here are my Coffee Table Books for Lovers of Boats and the Sea.

1. An America's Cup Treasury. In pictures and text, Gary Jobson covers the intrigue and excitement of the first 30 years of America's Cup competition. And he nails it.

2. Origins. The Evolution of Continents, Oceans and Life. With compelling text and color photos, author Ron Redfern explains the mysteries of the formation of our earth, oceans and life. The main lesson: embrace change or die.

Nieces and nephews come to visit and cruise. Vic and I always stock the boat with books for what we call the Kids Cruising Corner. Surprise, surprise. Manatees and pirates are high on everybody's list. These two are on our web site.

1. The Pirate's Handbook. Young cruisers know they'll not confront a real pirate on their cruise but what's to stop them from imagining themselves as rogues of the high seas. Margarette Lincoln's book is terrific and true report about the real thing, what they wore, what they ate and how they struck fear in their victims.

2. Manatees. This is another in the Naturebook Series, written by Mary Ann McDonald, with photos of the slow moving sea cow, Florida's official marine mammal. Sighting a real manatee is extra special when this book is on board.

Books are for boats. Boats are for books.

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