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We’re Hiring

The Nautical Mind Bookstore is looking for a new crew member to work in the bookstore a few days a week, including Saturdays, starting in June 2021.

The job involves helping customers in the store, on the phone, and online find the right books, charts, and cruising guides for their needs. With much of the business now online, packaging and shipping locally and internationally is a big part of the job. We ship with Canada Post, Canpar and UPS.

Detailed knowledge of boats, books, charts and navigation would be a great boon. We sell everything from racing, cruising guides and navigation to professional texts used by students, schools, shipping companies and the Coast Guard.

Skills needed for the job include retail experience, an ability to be detail oriented, and a facility and comfort with computers including experience with database work, and Microsoft Word and Excel

The Nautical Mind is a positive and inclusive workspace where the traits, skills, and contributions of all are acknowledged and respected.  It’s a unique local niche bookstore focussed on a deeply fascinating subject matter.

Please email resume to


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Bruce MacDonald, author of Sisters of the Ice writes:

Climate change is affecting our whole planet and one of the areas in the world that is most impacted is the Canadian Arctic. With longer periods of open water there is more traffic going through or attempting to go through Canada’s NW Passage which has raised concerns about environmental impacts, policing, fishing, mining, and ultimately Canada’s sovereignty over this area.

I began researching the above with a look to the future but soon became engrossed in the stories of the ships and sailors who have defended Canadian Arctic sovereignty thus far. The two iconic Canadian ships that I focused my research on were the RCMP’s patrol vessel, St. Roch, that policed the western Canadian Arctic and then became the first vessel to transit the NW Passage in both directions as well as the first vessel to circumnavigate North America; and the Inuit owned fur trading sailing ship, North Star of Herschel Island, that was used twice by the Canadian government to assert Canadian Arctic sovereignty. The captains of these two vessels were good friends and they often met up in port or in the Beaufort Sea for a gam.

In order to set the stage I looked further astern to the foreign whaling vessels that first caused the Canadian government concern when they operated their vessels with impunity for years in the Arctic. I wrote about life-long sailors such as Joseph-Elzear Bernier who when he was a teenager was lashed to the forward windlass on his father’s lumber ship during a storm in order to cure him of seasickness. Bernier went on to command his own ship and claimed the Arctic Archipelago for Canada after many seasons in the ice.

My wife and I purchased North Star of Herschel Island 25 years ago and raised four children aboard while logging thousands of miles in the Pacific NW. Through those years we met many people who shared their stories of life in the Arctic, including those who had spent time aboard St. Roch and North Star up north. Their first-hand accounts that have never been recorded before are an invaluable part of this new book.

As a sailor I was drawn to the experiences of those who worked these waters; the storms, the groundings, the navigation in uncharted waters, the shipwrecks, dealing with the ice, and all of the adventures that these people had in defending Canadian Arctic sovereignty.

Sisters of the Ice retells these stories of the hardships and seamanship that were used to protect this area. It is an overview of the subject but ultimately is a collection of true Canadian sea stories that, alas, we were never taught in school.


Bruce MacDonald and coR. Bruce Macdonald is a writer, sailor and artist with a passion for Canadian history. The cover art on the book is one of his paintings. Macdonald has logged over 100,000 nautical miles and, for many years, has lived along the BC Coast aboard North Star with his wife and daughters.



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Figure 8 Voyage: The Toughest Leg

Randall Reeves, author of The Figure 8 Voyage writes:

I’m often asked which leg of the Figure 8 Voyage was most difficult, the route around the bottom of the world or the one over the top.

The Figure 8 Voyage was an attempt to solo circumnavigate the Americas and Antarctica in one season, and it was my best answer to the wife’s challenge, “Make sure your next cruise is a big one.” Sailed as an eight-shaped double loop, the route included a full, north/south transit of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, two passes beneath Cape Horn, and a run through the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic for a total of nearly 40,000 continuous miles—a rather tall order for this singlehander, who had by this time 13,000 miles under his keel but had never been south of Tahiti.

Though well prepared, I failed during the first attempt in 2017/18 when Moli, my 45-foot aluminum expedition sloop, was damaged in a knockdown west of Cape Horn and then again in the Indian Ocean. I sailed home (a circumnavigation) for a second attempt in 2018/19, departing San Francisco to the south in late September and returning successfully from the north 384 days later.

Particularly challenging was that the two high latitude legs—the historic Clipper route below the great capes and the equally historic Northwest Passage—were so different in their extremes: hard gales and heavy seas in the vast openness of the south; narrow, poorly charted waters and unpredictable pack ice in the north.

In retrospect, I think the south was the more difficult if only because it was longer. From the first pass below Cape Horn to the second required 110 days and 15,000 miles of gale-a-week sailing at an average of 47 degrees south latitude. Remoteness down here is one’s usual companion. During that entire leg, I saw two ships, tankers making way under South America because they were too big for Panama. No other evidence of humanity revealed itself, no jet contrails, no satellites, no plastic trash. On many days my closest neighbors were bunking on the International Space Station.

The north was equally strenuous, but the distances were shorter—5,500 miles from the Arctic Circle on one side of the Americas to the Arctic Circle on the other. Here the big risk was of pushing deep into the ice maze only to become encased in the pack for the ten long months of winter. In 2019, Moli and I completed this leg in 48 days.

Differences to one side, both routes amply fulfilled the requirements of adventure; they were grueling, cold, no-sleep enterprises, but, at least from the comfort of my shoreside writing desk in 2021, both were glorious fun.


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Canadian Youth Take Charge Ashore and Afloat to discover our waters and the ships that sail them!

Marguerite Pyron, CEO of the Broad Reach Foundation writes:


Ships2Shores-LogoCanadian Youth Take Charge Ashore and Afloat to discover our Canadian waters and the ships that sail them!

Supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Ships2Shores | Des navires aux rivages is a youth-led ambitious and innovative venture that will engage up to10,000 Canadian youth on the Atlantic, the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, the Pacific, and the Arctic.

Coming from 9 provinces and territories, the participating youth (12- 29 of age) with diverse backgrounds and heritages, will engage in online and aboard activities and adventures designed, developed and implemented by the youth themselves. The goal is to drive awareness and action in environmental protection, making new connections between communities, in the career opportunities that Canada’s marine industries offer and to increase youth attachment to Canada.

Ships2Shores | Des navires aux rivages provides opportunities for the youth to gain a broad range of knowledge and experiences: the importance of our water resources, maritime arts and heritage, civic engagement and community building, and the economic significance of our ships and shores, through the past, the present and into the future.

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, Ships2Shores will launch with a wide range of on-line engagements in the fall of 2020, followed by a full offering of tall ship and sailboat experiences in 2021.

The on-line crew will include tall ship sailors of all ages, professionals from maritime industries, artists, scientists, students and teachers, almost everyone and anyone who can contribute. Our Virtual Sailors will be voyaging through Virtual Seas that will provide new knowledge, new challenges, new skills, and all the values, fun and excitement that come from new discoveries.

But there is more …

Deserving youth, who have qualified through their engagement with the on-line activities, a variety of sail-training bursaries will be available, turning the Virtual into the Totally Real! The bursaries will provide youth with all the benefits which sail training offers, aboard Canadian Tall Ships – and short ships, too – regardless of their socio-economic background. If desired, youth can also gain volunteer hours required by their schools.

For more information, visit and refer, invite and encourage youth to share in this exciting opportunity that is Ships2Shores | Des navires aux rivages!

The Ships2Shores Project will be executed by the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders (BRF) in partnership with Tall Ships Canada Association (TSCAN) / Association des Grands Voileurs du Canada, supported by Master Mariners Canada, Together We Stand Foundation and more to come.

Let’s sail it forward together and nation-wide!







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The North Channel — A blog entry by Green Ghost, Blue Ocean author Jennifer M. Smith


Jennifer M Smith, author of Green Ghost, Blue Ocean writes:

When we wintered in the Bahamas we began crossing paths with “Loopers”, folks on boats who’d set out to complete The Great Loop, that system of continuous waterways that includes the American Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal routes (ICW), the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi or other routes linking the American Midwest to the Gulf. They’d stepped out from the Florida coast to enjoy the blue waters of the Bahamas before the northbound leg of their route through the dark waters of the ICW.Seeing another boater was a good enough reason to fall into conversation with a stranger, but observing another Canadian flag ensured it.
“Where are you from?” was the usual start. “Which way are you headed?” was next, followed by “What’s your favourite place so far?”
“The North Channel!” was invariably the answer to the last question.
The North Channel? We’d never been there, and, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was. All these miles we’d put under our keel and we’d not yet seen our own backyard, one of the best fresh water cruising grounds in the world.
Finally, now, with 40,000 nautical miles behind us, we are poised in Penetanguishene to sail north through familiar Georgian Bay to the North Channel this summer. It may not be a typical summer, but we imagine the North Channel will make isolation a beautiful experience. See you on the water.


The boat – Green Ghost under full sail



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Aboard Quetzal, anchored in Prickly Bay on the south shore of Grenada

John Kretschmer, author or Sailing to the Edge of Time and many other books writes:

I rose before the first hint of twilight this morning, made a cup of strong coffee and climbed into the cockpit. The dozens of anchor lights, rocking with the erratic rhythm of an unwelcome swell, represented a constellation of cruising boats. From tidy production boats, to utilitarian aluminum cutters, to well seasoned ocean crossers like Quetzal, Prickly Bay is a refuge for those of us who live aboard and ply the oceans as a matter of course.

We have many friends in the anchorage, and they have all made their way here from far away – Australia, Brazil, France, Canada, the US. As part of the subtitle and throughout my book, Sailing to the Edge of Time, I mention the promise of ocean Voyaging. Waiting for the light of day, and the reassurances that come with it in these trying times, I realized, not for the first time, that its the promise of mornings like this that keep me committed to a life afloat.


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The Origins of Dominique Prinet’s Navigation Texts

Dominique Prinet, the author of  excellent course texts and exercises on Celestial and Coastal navigation, shares his reminiscences of the origins of his books:

My passion for sailing was born in Tanzania (East Africa), at the yacht club of Dar es Salam. With my little plywood boat, I was in paradise: the weather is perfect year-round, the sun shines nicely every-day, a gentle breeze blows regularly from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the beaches are spectacular, bordered by palm trees and coconut trees. The people are wonderful.

Enjoying life in TanzaniaI was there for five years under a World Bank program, to turn around and manage the national airline. Electricity and telephones had been mostly cutoff, and the flights of the day were announced by the local radio every morning depending on how much cash there was that day to buy fuel. When the job was done, I returned to Canada as crew on a sailboat from Portugal to Guadeloupe, navigating by sextant.

Bush Pilot on an Otter, Arctic Ocean

It had been such a wonderful experience that I decided to help others reach that state of felicity. For 15 years, in Vancouver, I taught sailing (and power boating) to Sail Canada students, on land and at sea, from Basic to Offshore. I was also an Instructor Evaluator.

The Coastal and Celestial Navigation course books are the notes that I put together for these students and developed with them over the years; the exercises are those they had to do to prepare for the tests. The books are well tried and tested, and they work.

Teaching Celsetial Navigation

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The Honorary Canadian – Guest Post by Kimberley Jordan Reeman

Douglas Reeman aboard HMCS Haida in Toronto

Kimberley Jordan Reeman is the widow of the late Douglas Reeman (aka Alexander “Bolitho” Kent), and an author in her own right.  She has recently published her first novel, Coronach and writes a blog.  She has contributed the following portrait of his relationship with Canada.


The Honorary Canadian

It was June 12, 1944, and the tide was ebbing fast. The motor torpedo boat was caught on an underwater anti-tank obstacle off the beach at Arromanches, within range of armour-piercing shells being fired from inland. An M.T.B. ran on high-octane fuel. One hit, and she would go up like a bomb.

Her skipper, on the bridge with a group of Royal Canadian Engineers, sent a young R.N.V.R. lieutenant named Reeman over the side with four seamen to try to lift the boat off. The rest of the crew was still aboard when the shell hit amidships.

The world exploded in searing flame and black, roiling smoke. The M.T.B. was burning fiercely. The young lieutenant was drifting in the shallows, the salt stinging his face, his legs on fire with phosphorus despite the sea’s coldness.

He lost consciousness, and came to on the beach. Rain was falling, and some one was saying, “It’s O.K., buddy. Take it easy,” and then, “Keep that rain off his face,” and another voice said, “Somebody give him a cigarette.”

He remembered saying, “I smoke a pipe,” before the morphine took him under.

They were Canadian army medics and they saved Douglas Reeman’s life, and saw him transferred to a landing craft that took him to England for weeks of rehabilitation. And then he went back to war.

He never forgot the Canadians; and they’d always been around. He knew the Royal Canadian Navy’s Light Coastal Forces and the men who served in ‘the little ships’: he’d heard the lilting accents of officers and seamen from St. John’s and the outports who wore NEWFOUNDLAND shoulder flashes, and the voices of men from the Dominion who wore the shoulder flash of Canada. Like every one else in the Royal Navy, he had admired the grace and speed of the Tribal Class destroyers, H.M.C.S. Haida among them, and in Iceland he had seen H.M.C.S. Skeena wrecked, and the survivors and the dead brought ashore. Later, when The Toronto Star serialized one of Douglas’s novels, the American publishing world took note and offered him a contract.

Fame followed, as a writer under his own name of contemporary war stories and, in 1968 with the publication of  To Glory We Steer, as Alexander Kent, author of the Richard Bolitho series.

Douglas visited Canada several times, on book tours and as a guest of the Royal Canadian Navy: in Halifax, R.C.N. ships were dressed overall in his honour. And on the rainy evening of June 6th, 1980, during a cross-Canada tour to promote A Ship Must Die, he gave a reading in the Brigantine Room at Toronto’s Harbourfront, where a young Canadian woman in the audience stood up and asked him a question he couldn’t answer.

Maybe he felt, as I did, the hand of fate touch him that evening. He invited me to write to him, and my letters sustained him as he struggled in a vortex of depression following the death of his wife in 1983. On July 9th, 1984, we met for the first time in four years in the lobby of the Royal York Hotel. Later that evening, he asked me to marry him.

We were married at St. James’s Cathedral in Toronto on Saturday, October 5th, 1985. The vicar, the Reverend David Bousfield, was a Royal Canadian Navy reservist, as was the verger. Douglas was signing copies of his books for Father Bousfield in the vestry just before I arrived.

For thirty-one years we were inseparable. He considered himself an honorary Canadian, and he was always very proud of his ‘Canadian girl’. His relationship with the R.C.N. and his Canadian readers remained close; he always wore a Canadian poppy in November, and when we observed the silence at home on Remembrance Day the Maple Leaf always hung from the upstairs window beside the White Ensign in memory of all those who had served.

We were always there for him, we Canadians. Until the last second of his life, when I held his hand as he left me. But he lives on in his books, and I keep him in my heart. With my country.

As always, together.


Logo -KJR-BlogTour-2019

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I Grew … We Grew Together

Sue Williams, author of Ready to Come About writes:

coming alongsideChristmas Eve my husband, David, had a grand mal seizure while doing last minute shopping in the mall. The event was so violent that he sustained two compression fractures of his thoracic spine, and cuts on his head took fourteen stitches to close. “Stress and sleep deprivation,” were what the neurologist determined to be the cause.

When he returned to work, with the scars still raw, he was fired. “Restructuring,” the CEO chose to call it.

After David recovered I said, “Dear, you wanted to cross an ocean. This is your chance. You have the boat. You’re back in good health. And you’ve now got the time. You can look for a new job when you get back.” Then I suddenly added, “And I’ll go too,” surprising us both.

exhausted from sailingBy Day Eight on our passage to Caiscais, Portugal: we had snagged a rogue fishing net that pulled the engine off its mounts; David had to dive into the choppy Atlantic for almost an hour to cut the net loose; we were taking on water through the stuffing box; we had entered a Nortada along the western coast of Europe causing our weather cloths to tear, our radar reflector and courtesy flag halyards to break free, and monstrous seas to develop; and Inia was losing a nautical mile, or a minute of latitude, in the strong south setting current every time we checked.  

David, as skipper, felt responsible for the safety of his vessel, Inia, and the welfare of his crew, non-sailor me.

“Stress and Sleep Deprivation.” Was another seizure in the making? I seriously feared so!

happy sailorsThis was just one of the many challenges we faced in our 11,000 nautical mile, year-long circumnavigation of the North Atlantic. As they say, adversity introduces one to oneself. We also learned that the rougher the passage, the more joyful the landfall.

My memoir, Ready to Come About (Dundurn Press 2019), is the story of my improbable adventure on the high seas and my profound journey within, through which I grew to believe there is no gift more previous than the liberty to chart one’s own course, and that risk is a good thing … sometimes, at least.




by Williams, Sue
With no affinity for the sea and not a single adventure-seeking bone in her body, Sue Williams headed off into the North Atlantic in the wake of a perfect storm of personal events. Two things were clear to her: her sons were adults and needed freedom to figure things out for themselves, and it was now or never for her husband to realize his dream to cross an ocean under sail.

304 Pages • softcover • 2019
yawl inia