Thursday, July 23, 2009

Left on the Shelf: Fifty Places to Sail before you Die

I picked up this book in a local shop and then put it back on the shelves, not tempted to buy it.

The main thing that put me off is that it had several entries for the UK, including sailing locations as disparate as The Solent and South Georgia, and a separate one for Scotland, namely The Clyde.

Sorry, that is just plain ignorance, and inexcusable in a book that should be written by someone reasonably good at geography. The lack of charts of each of the places also put me off.

Having checked on Amazon here in the UK seems like I'm not the only one. One reviewer, who gave it only one star, said:

"Bought this on impulse (to top up to free postage!) without reading reviews. A mistake.

All you need to know is:
1) The author's previous books were Fifty Places to .... Play Golf / Go Birding / Fly Fish etc .... before you die
2) The USA based research is so exhaustive that the British Virgin Islands and South Georgia Islands are listed under UK, but Scotland is not (meanwhile each USA state is treated as a nation)
3) Different rent a contributer provides each section - so the author probably never even visited the locations
4) Pictures are few and mostly could be anywhere"

There are a lot of good sailing books out there, like the "Over the Edge of the World" reviewed yesterday, and my pile of unread books is too high already.

Might have been a lucky escape.


jbushkey said...

was one of the 50 places tillerman's wake? hahaha Too bad the book bombed I like the concept. Needs to be rewritten by a real cruiser.. 50 places would be alot for anyone to recollect though.

JP said...

Yes, its a shame as would be a good idea for a book.

Pat said...

Probably the shame of it is that this book, despite being produced by someone with little knowledge of the sport, is nevertheless likely a commercial success.

Also unfortunate is that the formulaic approach and lack of unified voice leaves me without much of a feeling for the places cited.

Perhaps the word for this book is


Carol Anne said...

Pat neglected to mention that we picked up the book for nearly nothing at a remainder sale.

In the book's defense, however, I will say that the authors of the various chapters are highly regarded sailors, and they do offer valuable insights. It is an anthology, which means it has an editor, not an author, and while this editor has shortcomings as regards knowledge of sailing, at least some of the authors he has chosen have good insights.

The problem that I see with this book is that is limits itself to just 50 places. That's not enough to cover all of the diverse interests of all of the different sorts of people who are sailing. jbushkey would like to see something written "by a real cruiser," but there are racing sailors who couldn't care less about cruising, and those sailors also deserve to see a listing of places they should sail.

So really, what we need is 250 places to sail before you die if you're a cruiser, and 250 other places to sail before you die if you're a racer, and 250 other places to sail before you die if you do both, and 250 other places to sail before you die if you're not sure what you like.

Or maybe 1000 places to sail before you die, no matter what sort of sailing you do.

JP said...

I agree that some of the writers knew their stuff. The South Georgia one I mentioned was written by Skip Novak (I think) who I'd certainly read with interest.

So maybe it needed a bit of work from those that know about geography and sailing rather than a series editor who didn't