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A Cruising Voyage Round the World:
The Adventures of an English Privateer
By Woodes Rogers
This is the first-hand story of Woodes Rogers, the most successful British privateer ever, and his circumnavigation from 1708 to 1711. Rogers' mission was to harass Spanish shipping, and he did it splendidly, capturing two Spanish galleons laden with riches off the Pacific coast of the Americas. Along the way he rescued a castaway, a Scottish seaman named Alexander Selkirk, who joined his crew. Daniel Defoe, a friend of Rogers', read this log, and later wrote Robinson Crusoe. High adventure on the high seas!
Anson's Voyage Around the World:
In the Years 1740-1744
By Richard Walter
When Britain declared war on Spain in 1740, Commodore George Anson was sent to harass the Spanish in the Americas. His fleet was manned with the sick and infirm, and he lost the majority of his crew by the time he reached the west coast of South America. Nevertheless, the HMS Centurion sacked the city of Paita in Peru and managed to capture a Manila galleon before sailing home the rest of the way around the world. The author, Richard Walter, was chaplain aboard, and it is interesting to compare this book with Woodes Roger's account of the same voyage.
Four Months in a Sneak Box:
Down the Mississippi in 1875
By Nathaniel Holmes Bishop
A 2,600 mile voyage in 1875 from Pittsburgh to Florida down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in a 12 foot duck hunting boat called a Barnegat Bay Sneak Box. "This curious and staunch little craft, though only twelve feet in length, proved a most comfortable and serviceable home while the author rowed in it more than 2600 miles down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, until he reached the goal of his voyage--the mouth of the wild Suwanee River."
Love for Sail:
The Here and Now of Ocean Cruising
By Mark Hassall
Mark Hassall wrecked his first boat on Anacapa Island, off Santa Barbara, but he built himself another -- a trimaran this time -- and took off on a three-and-a-half year around-the-world cruise with his wife and son. This book is a transcription of tape recordings he sent home to his friends, which in fact gives the action a potent immediacy (hilarious at times, and terrifying at others). Besides being a great adventure story, this book is a philosophical look at the cruising lifestyle. Great stuff!
Prentice Mulford's Story:
Life by Land and Sea
By Prentice Mulford
Born in Sag Harbor, Long Island, Prentice Mulford (1834-1891) sailed to San Francisco on a clipper ship in 1856 and remained for sixteen years. This is his account of his adventures at sea and in the American west from 1856 through 1872: life on a clipper and a California coastal schooner hunting whales and seals, gold prospecting in Tuolumne County, accounts of camp life and experiences as a school teacher and minor local politician, copper mining in Stanislaus County, and career as journalist for the San Francisco Golden Era. Mulford was a friend of Mark Twain and Bret Harte, and this book ranks with theirs.
Sailing Alone Around the World:
The Original Circumnavigation Adventure
By Joshua Slocum
Already a seasoned old salt when he undertook the challenge, Slocum became the first person to sail around the world alone. In 1895 he left Boston in the 37' Spray, returning in 1898. This is the quintessential around-the-world sailing book that everyone turns to when they decide to do it, including Jack London. Courage, daring, self-reliance, wit -- Slocum had them all.
Shackleton's Boat Journey:
The Narrative from the Captain of the 'Endurance'
By Frank Arthur Worsley
Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition is trapped when their ship, the Endurance, gets stuck in pack ice. It is crushed nine months later. The crew camps on ice floes, floating north for five months, until they reach Elephant Island. Shackleton and five men then sail the 800 miles to South Georgia Island in a lifeboat to get help. The author, Worsley, was the ship's captain and guided the small boat voyage. A most remarkable journey, in which not a single man was lost, despite the unspeakable hardships. Includes historical introduction and maps. (Second Edition)
The Last Antarctic Expedition of Shackleton
By Ernest Shackleton
When we read accounts of polar exploration today, we are impressed. When we read of the exploits of men such as Ernest Shackleton we are astounded. To survive under the conditions that he and his men experienced, with equipment deemed primitive by today's standards, is almost beyond our ken. Shackleton tells the story of his last expedition (1914-1917) when his ship, the Endurance, was crushed by pack ice. He went on to complete an 800-mile open boat journey and then a twenty-mile hike through the mountains in order to save his men. And he did.
The Boy, Me, and the Cat:
Life Aboard a Small Boat from Massachusetts to Florida and Back in 1912
By Henry Plummer
The author's October 1912 through June 1913 cruise with his son and cat aboard a catboat from Massachusetts to Florida and back. These were different times. Stray cows were fair game and the author provisioned his boat often by shooting a stray and hauling the carcass aboard. He also owned a 22 rifle with a silencer nicknamed 'Helen Keller' with which he poaches ducks. Interesting reading.
The Cruise of the 'Alerte':
In Search of Treasure
By E. F. Knight
This is an old-fashion treasure hunt and a great nautical adventure. The author and a small amateur crew left England in 1889 aboard a 64 foot schooner, bound for the uninhabited island of Trinidad off Brazil. They had with them a description of the treasure's location, passed on to them from a dying pirate. Several months later they reached the island, went ashore, and realized that the land conformed exactly to the pirate's tale. They began to dig.
The Cruise of the Cachalot:
Around the World After Sperm Whales
By Frank T. Bullen
Bullen was a sailor and then an officer on the "Cachalot" during its three-year whaling expedition from New Bedford, Massachusetts, around the world by way of the Seychelles and Aldabra islands, Hong Kong, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Cape Horn. This is the ultimate whaling narrative, superbly written.
The Cruise of the Corwin:
Muir's Final Great Journey
By John Muir
In spring of 1881, John Muir set out on the ship "Corwin" for a journey of 15,000 nautical miles from San Francisco into the Arctic sea. The purpose of the voyage was to search for three ships that had been lost in the area, and to verify the local fleet's compliance with international seal and otter hunting regulations. Muir went along because of his fascination with glaciers. He was also drawn by the call of one of the world's last unexplored coastlines. This turned out to be Muir's last great foray into the wilderness, as he became a settled farmer afterwards.
The Cruise of the Snark:
Jack London's South Sea Adventure
By Jack London
Dudes! Jack London was a surfer! Inspired by Slocum's "Sailing Around the World Alone," London built a 45' schooner called the Snark, with the intent of sailing the world with his wife and crew. His first stop was Hawaii, where he learned to surf in 1907. He then went on to the South Seas and the Solomon Islands. This book is always insightful, and often hilarious.
The Falcon on the Baltic:
A Coasting Voyage from Hammersmith to Copenhagen in 1887
By E. F. Knight
A tale of a voyage of a very small yacht on the North and Baltic Seas in the summer of 1887, told with great detail and color. A favorite classic among nautical-book enthusiasts.
The Mutiny on Board H.M.S. Bounty:
The Captain's Account of the Mutiny and His 3,600 Mile Voyage in an Open Boat
By William Bligh
William Bligh's account of the fatal voyage of the Bounty, and his subsequent 3,600 mile trip to Timor in an open boat. Bligh was not the tyrant of legend in fiction -- in fact, he may have been one of the most lenient commanders of a Pacific exploration ship of that period. Certainly, he was one of the most competent seamen in the British Navy.
The Saga of Cimba:
A Journey from Nova Scotia to the South Seas
By Richard Maury
This is the tale of an epic 1930's journey from Nova Scotia to Fiji in a 35' schooner. There are plenty of adventures along the way, including an encounter with a group of Scandinavians who went to the Galapagos Islands to start a Utopia, but ended up as feuding families, with the unexplained deaths of some members. This book is considered one of the finest accounts of a small yacht travelling through deep waters.
The Traveller's Tree:
Island-Hopping Through the Caribbean in the 1940's
By Patrick Leigh Fermor
Find out what might make a cannibal eat his meal in depressed silence in Fermor's narrative of his experiences tooling around the Caribbean in the 1940's. This Anglo-Irish adventurer traveled by steamer, airplane, and sailboat along the entire length of the West Indian island chain. He was a very acute observer and carefully documented the unique geographical, cultural, and linguistic features of the islands. The mixtures of cultures and religions in the Caribbean are unique in the world, and the author writes down every detail of what he sees, from Voodoo rituals to eclectic fashion. (Second Edition)
The Voyage of the Beagle:
Darwin's Five-Year Circumnavigation
By Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin's father at first refused to allow his 22-year-old son to go on this voyage around the world in 1831-1836: he felt it was not a wise career choice. Fortunately, his father relented, and we have Darwin's journal, which may be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his experiences on the Beagle, which led to his formulation of the theory of evolution. He was able to observe coral reefs, fossil-filled rocks, earthquakes, and more -- first-hand -- and made his own deductions. Original (of course) and entertaining!
The Voyage of the Paper Canoe:
A 2,000-Mile Journey Down the Inland Waterways of the Eastern Seaboard
By Nathaniel Holmes Bishop
Nathaniel Bishop left Quebec in the summer of 1874 in an 18-foot canoe, accompanied by an assistant. His plan was to follow natural and manmade waterways all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, making as few portages as possible. Nearly 400 miles into the journey, he discovered a company in New York state that had been perfecting the construction of paper boats. Dismissing his assistant, Bishop purchased one of these incredibly light and sturdy paper crafts and paddled the next 2,000 miles on his own, emerging off the Florida coast in 1875. This is the story of his incredible journey.
To the Shores of the Polar Sea:
Three Years Exploring the Canadian Arctic, 1819-1822
By John Franklin
Franklin was an officer in the Royal Navy (and later governor of Tasmania), but he was also one of the great polar explorers. This is the intimate narrative of his expedition in 1819. With only three companions, he explored the Canadian Arctic from Hudson's Bay east to the Coppermine River and Bathurst Inlet. It was tough sledding: they were reduced to eating the leather parts of their clothes. Nevertheless, Franklin mapped 1,200 miles of coastline and logged 663 plants. Back in England he became a national hero. He died in 1845, leading another expedition to the arctic. A classic.
Two Years Before The Mast:
And Twenty-four Years After
By Richard Henry Dana
Avast there all you Patrick O'Brian fans! Here is a personal narrative of the seaman's life in the age of sail: 1815-1882, and a classic of nautical literature. Dana was a Harvard student recovering from the measles when he decided it would be more interesting to do so at sea as a common sailor. In 1834 he joined a two-year voyage rounding Cape Horn to deliver cargo to California. All the color and detail of daily life at sea as well as descriptions of various ports. Rousing good fun!
Voyage of the Liberdade:
A Journey from Brazil to America in a Hand-Built Boat
By Joshua Slocum
Joshua Slocum's life aboard his sailing ship, the Aquidneck, forms the first part of this true adventure. Plying his trade along the coast of Brazil, Slocum encounters cholera and forced quarantine, a mutinous crew, and finally a shipwreck in 1886. He waits for help in Brazil; it doesn't come, so he and his family build the Liberdade, a 35' cross between a dory and sampan. They sail the "canoe," as he calls it, back to America. This was Slocum's first book. His better-known "Sailing Alone around the World" was his second.
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