I recently finished Hal Roth’s How To Sail Around The World. Other than texts books for sailing courses that I have done, it is the first book that I have read that I truly value for the insight and knowledge it provides. I suspect it will be used as a reference book for years to come.
Before now, I had been reading other people’s books about sailing, basically autobiographies about their travels and adventures, hoping to pick up tidbits I could learn from their first person accounts.
While they weren’t bad books, I tended to be disappointed that I didn’t really learn anything about sailing from them, (although plenty was revealed about the people). We’re not doing as much sailing as we would like to, or perhaps should do, so we’re having to live vicariously for now in this fashion. At least that’s the theory.
I’m ordering most of my books through Amazon, so eventually this book was recommended. What an amazing epiphany…learn how to do something by reading a book with “how to” in the title.
Overall it was an easy read, but heavy on technical terms and jargon, so be prepared to be committed to the task if you’re just learning like us. Hal references other sailors experience and recommendations with his own, and is not afraid to explain why he disagrees with them.
Amazon has a pretty comprehensive description of the book, that covers subjects like:
- Find a suitable boat for your voyaging
- Assemble a versatile sail inventory
- Select tools and spare parts
- Plan your route and timing
- Choose the right anchors and how to use them
- Minimize costs
- Stay warm, dry, and well fed
- Cope with paperwork in foreign ports
For me the two sections that I was drawn to the most were the chapters on Anchoring and Storm Management.
Anchor types and procedures will always be a subject of great debate and claims of the best product, nonetheless something that you can afford to learn a lot from through trial and error in most cases. Hal gave straightforward examples, what had worked and not for him, and I was interested to read that he actually recommends owning an old-school Fisherman anchor for some circumstances.
What to do in inclement weather though, is really the one thing about long-term cruising that has me a bit apprehensive. Understanding that I haven’t read too much on the subject, his approach was very easy to follow, progressed in a login manner, and I’m sure passes on a lifetime worth of knowledge and experience that you don’t want to have to acquire for yourself. He spreads this out in to 4 chapters. Heaving To and Lying Ahull; Running Off; Sea Anchor; and Stern Drogue. Very enlightening, and for me, definitely a case of not knowing what you don’t know.
I bought the hardcover version so that it would last a long time on the book self as a useful reference. I may even consider selling this one online in the near future and buy the Kindle version for the ease of the text-search function to find the subject matter quicker.