Henry Beard & Roy McKie,
Sailing: A Dictionary for Landlubbers, Old Salts & Armchair Drifters
(Workman, 1981)

I wish I were a sailor.

I blame my parents. It's certainly not my fault that they chose to raise me in a landlocked community a few hours from the nearest coastline. If they'd bothered to consult me, I'd have told them I preferred to be reared in a proper New England harbor town.

Alas. So, I grew up NOT on or around boats, and I've never been a sailor.

But I dream of the sea. I long for it. And, without taking the bold step of actually uprooting, moving far from all I know and investing my meager funds in boating gear, I am resigned to loving the sea and its sport from a distance.

Sailing: A Dictionary for Landlubbers, Old Salts & Armchair Drifters helps me get by.

There's useful information here. For instance, a careful reader will learn that dry rot is bad. But authors Henry Beard and Roy McKie aren't content to keep it that simple. "Since salt water is the most common cause of dry rot," they inform us, "the best preventive measure is to keep vessels with predominantly wooden construction in a cool, dry place -- such as a garage or warehouse -- on a permanent basis."


I have several reference books that provide actual, honest, detailed and entirely accurate definitions of nautical terms. This one is purely for fun. Let me give you a few examples and you'll see what I mean:

Abandon: 1. Wild state in which a sailor acquires a boat. 2. Wild state in which a sailor relinquishes a boat.
Codfish: Popular dish on seafood restaurant menus where it appears under a variety of names, including haddock, scallops, bluefish, swordfish and lobster Newburg.
Fo'c's'l: Th' c'b'n f'r'th'st f'r'd.
Hazard: 1. Any boat over 2 feet in length. 2. The skipper of any such craft. 3. Any body of water. 4. Any body of land within 100 yards of any body of water.
Passenger: A form of movable internal ballast which tends to accumulate on the leeward side of sailboats once sea motions commence.
Seabag: 1. Canvas sack in which a sailor's gear is carried. 2. Aging mermaid.

The illustrations are cute, too.

book review by
Tom Knapp

10 January 2015

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