A short review of two sailing stories I enjoyed.

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (2009; Signet Classics; $7.95 paperback, $0.99 Kindle).

two-years-before-mastIn 1833 Richard Henry Dana was struck by illness (affecting his eyesight) and couldn’t complete his studies at Harvard.  The next year he signed on with the ship Pilgrim as a lowly grunt.

Two years later he wrote an incredible story of adventure, beauty and sometimes brutality that accompanied his voyage around Cape Horn to Northern California.

He speaks of “Upper California” and “Lower California” in the days before the state was fully part of the US.

“Monterey, as far as my observation goes, is the pleasantest and most civilized-looking place in California,”

is how he introduces the chapter on Monterey and the bay that surrounds it.

A fantastic classic adventure story full of rich detail about the lands and people Dana encounters.


An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof (2005; Broadway Books; $13.02 paperback, $13.99 Kindle)


Everyone has a dream.  For sailors it’s often the “sell everything, move aboard a boat and sail around the world” variety.

Well that’s just what Ann Vanderhoof and her husband Steve did in the 1990s.  Even non-sailors are likely enjoy this tale.

The two Canadians left their cold Toronto lives behind, moved aboard a 42′ boat and spent two years sailing down the Caribbean.  Along the way Vanderhoof records a delicious array of sights, watery excitement and interesting people.

The book is also filled with recipes for the local food the couple enjoyed along the way.  (Curried Chicken in Coconut Milk with Island Vegetables is a favorite that I’ve made many times at home!).


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