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New & Soon Arriving

New Arrivals

Contessa-26-50-yearsContessa 26: The First 50 Years

To quote customer (and Contessa 26 owner) David Aultfather “This book is a wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in the Contessa 26 sailboat. It has a foreword by Jeremy Rodgers, who built the first Contessa 26 sailboats in England, lots of great photos of the boats under sail, and interesting interviews with owners. This book is highly recommended.”

Seamanship-Age-of-SailSeamanship in the Age of Sail by John Harland- A beautiful new edition








Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands by Chris Doyle (14th Edition)

for the new 14th Edition, the Leeward Islands guide was split into two volumes.






New Bargains

Pirates-PassagePirate’s Passage by William Gilkerson

was $16.95, now $6.99
Winner of a Governor General’s Literary Award





Wreck-Whaleship-Essex-Illustrated-9780760348123Wreck of the Whaleship Essex, by Owen Chase
was $39, now $14.99. Beautifully annotated version of the story with images and explainations






Coming Soon

IAMSAR, 2016 Edition: Due Summer 2016

2016 Great Lakes Waterway Guide: Due April 2016



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Guest Blog: Amy McCullough on the Risks and Rewards of Cruising Life

We’d like to thank Amy for her fantastic guest blog. She can be found at her website.

The Box Wine Sailors
The Box Wine Sailors

In The Box Wine Sailors, I liken life aboard a small sailboat to a game of “Bad News, Good News,” meaning that times were often trying, but the rewards more than legitimized the struggles. My partner Jimmie and I lived aboard Cotton, a 1972 Newport 27, for a year, sailing from Portland, Oregon, to La Paz, Baja California Sur, and we shared a fair amount of good and bad news along the way.

For instance, less than a month into our trip—a journey we embarked upon with no sailing experience (really!) and very little money ($6,700 in the bank), our tiller snapped off. This happened during a very stressful bar crossing into the Siuslaw River along the Oregon Coast (see below). That’s some pretty bad news.


Pic1(The remains of our tiller)


The good news was, as a crazy-in-love young couple, we were gleefully unemployed and thrilled to be spending all of our time together. Oh, and this was the view the next morning:

(Our anchorage in the Siuslaw River near Florence, Oregon)

We met another case of bad news when rounding Cape Mendocino: The waves got bigger than we ever expected—crashing over the sides of the boat and right into us—and there was that added bad news that we didn’t really know what we were doing.

(The author beginning to round Cape Mendocino…well before the worst of it)

The good news (as was often the case) was the stunning natural beauty of the anchorage that awaited us in Shelter Cove:

(At anchor in Shelter Cove, California, note how the mountains dwarf little Cotton)

When trying to explain this in the book, I write: “So much of what we did was a strange mix of magic and torture, as if performing the most inconvenient, trying tasks could somehow be infused with an indescribable wonder, even joy. Everyday events ranged from doing the hardest thing you’ve ever done ever to witnessing the most breathtaking sights imaginable. We were constantly filled with awe—both at what we had to do and how fully we were rewarded.”

It was exactly because of these challenges and benefits that our trip aboard Cotton—the voyage of The Box Wine Sailors—was so incredible, and why Jimmie and I (pictured below) were so grateful to have the other to share it with. I suppose it’s not quite like being there, but The Box Wine Sailors is my attempt to share those risks and rewards with the world.

(Amy McCullough and Jimmie Buchanan in Shelter Cove, Northern California)


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Guest Blog: Wally Moran on Cuba

Cuba-Bound-WaterwayThanks to Wally Moran for this guest blog on Cuba. Wally is the author of the new Cuba cruising guide Cuba Bound: The North Coast which was released just a few weeks ago. He was also one of the authors at our booth during the Toronto Boat Show this month.

Cuba – it’s a fascinating place to sail. Sure, you can go there as a tourist, stay at a resort and have a good time in the sun, but you truly miss the essence of what Cuba actually is – because you aren’t meeting the people.

Picture sitting on a fisherman’s 18 foot wooden boat, eating fish he’s caught while you try to understand one another. Or watching a group of fisherman bring in an eight foot hammerhead shark caught in their nets – just 100 yards from where you are anchored. That’s not resort tourism.
Ashore, you find yourself invited to join a group of Cubans and Russian tourists singing and enjoying themselves at a local pub as you walk by – at 1 am on your way home. Even though you don’t speak Spanish and can’t understand but one of them who speaks English, you finally get home as the sun rises over your vessel after an evening of singing, dancing and drinking rum.
This is the essence of cruising – discovering the culture of the places you visit, not just looking at them from the windows of a tour bus.
As a place to sail, Cuba ranks one of the best. Hundreds of great anchorages, clean and uncrowded since there are so few other cruisers. The coast is well charted, making for an easy downwind run almost any time of the year. The views are stellar, natural beauty to be found everywhere.
Sure, outside of the new Gaviota marina in Varadero, the marinas are not up to North American standards – but they’re certainly more than adequate. Besides, why do we cruise, if not to see and experience new things and enjoy different cultures and values?
And yes, Cuba can be very challenging, in many many ways, but that challenge is more than rewarded by the experiences you’ll have, and the people you’ll meet.


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BOAT SHOW 2016: Great Authors, Informative Seminars, Bargains Galore. Also: Boats.

Nautical Mind Boat Show Booth G545

January 9 to 17, 2016
Saturdays (9 & 16) — 10am to 7pm
Sundays (10 & 17) — 10am to 6pm
Weekdays (11 – 15) — 11am to 8pm

 ~ Booth G-545 ~



The 2016 Toronto Boat Show is shaping up to be one of the best ever!  A crew of extraordinarily talented and experienced authors will join us all week to lead informative seminars, autograph their works, and chat with fellow sailors. This year, we’ll be graced with the likes of:

The full schedule of seminars and authors is posted here. Authors are usually at our booth (G-545) just after their seminar.


Of course we’ll also have amazing bargains and clearance deals on books, calendars, DVDs, and more.


If you can’t make it to the booth or get overwhelmed by the unrelenting carnival of delight that is The Boat Show, please drop by our much more serene store on Queen’s Quay.

Looking forward to seeing you all!




Boot G545

Sharon Green - Ultimate Sailing Photog

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Boat Show 2016: Jan 9th to 17th — Soon!

2016 Boat Show Dates & Hours

January 9 to 17, 2016
Saturdays (9 & 16) — 10am to 7pm
Sundays (10 & 17) — 10am to 6pm
Weekdays (11 – 15) — 11am to 8pm

Booth G545


This post was originally published as Treasures of the Vault… Now on Sale in January 2012. Thanks to the eternal nature of the Boat Show, it remains as true today as it was the day it was written. More contemporary Boat Show info to follow.


Deep in the cavernous bowels of Nautical Mind Head Quarters lies a dusty, half-remembered vault.  Once a year we throw open its creaking doors, shine high-lumen flashlights in to the dank, and haul out a trove of wondrous artifacts.  Left-handed marlinspikes, deadlight bulbs, buckets of prop-wash, deeply discounted calendars, all manner of reasonably-priced boat books, and much more are schlepped from the dark into a waiting truck.

NMHQ Catacombs
Cavernous Bowels

The assembled crew consists of tall ship captains, yachties, software developers, islanders, and sailors of all stripes.  Our zeal for the impending Event makes the load light and the work swift, as we sing Broadway show tunes and pack the truck.

Ramping up the Excitement
Ramping up the Excitement
Treasures of the Vault
Treasures of the Vault
Double Zeal
Double Zeal

The truck gets sprinkled with drywall dust, which presumably allows it to pass unharmed through the magical Prince’s Gates and arrive at the fabled CNE grounds.  Then, drawing on years of experience helming a tug in treacherous arctic waters, the driver deftly slips 30 tons of truck and bargain down the congested aisles of the Direct Energy Centre.  Truly a sight to behold, he manages not to crush a single SeaDoo or shipping pallet of radars.  Once at our destination, we resume our joyous box flinging, this time unloading the truck and assembling our pop-up bookstore booth.    Within moments, we deploy carpets, bookcases, tables, merchandise, POS-terminals, and the treasures of the vault.

30 Tons of Truck and Bargain
Watch out buddy! That’s 30 tons of truck and bargain comin’ at you!
Pop-up Bookstore Booth
Pop-up Bookstore Booth

At last, the booth is ready for another year of the carnival atmosphere of the Toronto International Boat Show.  Come visit us at booth G545 before sundown on Sunday, January 17th!  We look forward to seeing you!

Booth G545
Booth G545. You should come!
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Darwin, Franklin and the Essex

2015 has been a great year for new books that look at maritime history, the age of sail, exploration and discovery. This blog will look at a trio of new books on that subject which would be great additions to the library of anybody interested in those subjects.

Franklins_Lost_SHipFranklin’s Lost Ship
John Geiger

In 2014, after many years of searching, HMS Erebus, one of the ships of John Franklin’s lost expedition to the Arctic (1845-1848) was finally located. This was achieved in the latest of series of joint expeditions between the Canadian Government, organizations such as Parks Canada, The Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, amongst others, and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. This book is the official history of that 2014 expedition, and describes in loving detail the finding of the Erebus. It is filled with gorgeous photos, illustrations and maps that bring to life the original expedition, its disastrous end, and the efforts to find the Erebus and Terror. This is simply gorgeous, and important for anybody who is interested in Franklin’s expedition. Lead author John Geiger is CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. He is also co-author of Frozen in Time: the Fate of the Franklin Expedition. Co-author Alanna Mitchell is an international award winning Journalist, and contributes to CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks on Oceanographic stories.

Voyage-Beagle-DarwinVoyage of the Beagle
Charles Darwin

The famous voyage of the Beagle, from 1831-1836 has had intense repercussions on knowledge, religions and politics. While Darwin’s 1859 publication On the Origin of Species is an important scientific publication, Darwin’s journals are also incredibly important, especially to those interested in exploration and navigation. At the beginning of the voyage, Darwin was only 22 years old, and he was a product of a society that was starting to reckon with ‘modern’ science, and all its implications. This is an annotated, and illustrated version of Darwin’s journals from the voyage. Beautiful images, drawings, maps, illustrations, and photos provide context for Darwin’s entries, and bring the voyage to life. A palpable sense of excitement, wonder and discovery imbues this entire book.

Wreck-Whaleship-Essex-Illustrated-9780760348123Wreck of the Whaleship Essex: The Complete Illustrated Edition
Owen Chase

In 1820, the whaleship Essex was sunk while whaling in the Pacific off of South America. Owen Chase was the first mate, and his memoir and tale of surivival would captivate many, and inspire Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. This book is a beautifully illustrated and annotated edition of Chase’s memoir. His story is reinforced through beautiful images, and amazing illustrations. This also includes selections from other maritime authors, such as Melville and Richard Henry Dana (who wrote Two Years Before the Mast). These selections emphasize the stark reality of whaling, as well as how inspirational memoirs such as these can be.



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Some New Arrivals to Share

As we come into the Fall, and as boats come out of the water, peak reading season has arrived. In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the new books that we’ve received in the past few months and that we feel are excellent additions to your library, at home or aboard. First we’ll look at a few books we recommend that examine various aspects of sailing or cruising safety, in preparation for next season. The last three book are great fall or winter reads for those who love yacht and sailing ship design.

Stress-free Sailing: Short-handed Sailing TechniquesStress Free Sailing: Short-handed Sailing Techniques
Duncan Wells, 2015

This is a great book that quite simply everybody who owns or skippers a boat should own, and read from cover to cover. Sailing is a matter of the execution of operations- and boats are designed for minimum, as well as optimum crew numbers to perform those operations. The reality is that very often, skippers do not have the optimum number of crew. This can happen when one is sailing with children, with inexperienced crew, or with crew who are partially or completely incapacitated due to illness or injury.

This book takes the basic operations that sailors have to do, such docking, anchoring, making and dousing sail, and provides detailed and illustrated instructions on how to do so single-handed, or with a sub-optimal number of crew.

Voyaging-With-KidsVoyaging With Kids
Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson, & Michael Robertson

This is a new book, published by the Pardeys, which addresses an important topic for many cruisers. It is very well written, very clear, and also well illustrated. The authors are experienced cruisers, providing some of the lessons that they have learned on their voyages with their children. This book starts with the conceptual consideration of voyaging with kids, to provide an understanding of the realities of it. From there, it moves to discuss every aspect of cruising with families, from choosing family-friendly boats, to every day life, provisioning, schooling, achieving privacy, and getting along with others in a confined space. It ends with a number of testimonials from a number of individuals who cruised when they were children. For those who are considering long-distance cruising with their families, this is a must-read.

Safe SkSafe-Skipperipper: Practical Guide to Managing Risk at Sea
Simon Jollands & Rupert Holmes

Bodies of water are dangerous places.  When you add movement, speed, and forces beyond control, they are even more dangerous. This book is designed so that sailors can identify, consider the dangers that they accept, and actively work to make their sailing experiences as safe as possible. The book is divided in to five sections: 1) Preparation 2) Boat Handling 3) Communications 4) Equipment and Maintenance 5) Emergencies.  Each section is illustrated, and personal accounts highlight the dangers of each section. This is recommended for boat owners, skippers, and crew of all levels of experience.

l-francis-herreshoffL. Francis Herreshoff Yacht Designer
Roger C Taylor

Lewis Francis Herreshoff (1890-1972) was an American naval architect and author who was involved with design for the US Navy, in addition to designing racing yachts and cruising boats. His designs include the J Class Whirlwind, which was the American 1930 entry to the America’s Cup, the M class Istalena. He also designed beautiful vessels like the schooner Joann. He also wrote many books on building yachts, including The Compleat Cruiser and the Commonsense of Yacht Design. Herreshoff was incredibly influential, and two further books were published after his death. This is a beautiful biography, which particularly looks at how his personality and outlook influenced his designs. Includes many beautiful photographs.


Sun-Kings-VesselsSun King’s Vessels
J.C. Lemineur

In 1643, King Louis XIV ascended to the French throne at age five. In 1715, after seventy-two years on the throne, he was succeeded by his great-grandson. He attained his majority in 1654, and following the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661, implemented personal rule in France. For this entire time, Louis XIV was the man who dictate the course of Europe. Although famous for his use of his armies, the French navies during this period were technically, aesthetically the equal of any in Europe. This is an absolutely gorgeous book that examines the frankly neglected French navies of this period. JC Lemineur produces his volume after decades of research in the French archives. This was originally published in French as Le Vaissaux de Roi Soleil, and can also be ordered in French. This beautiful volume is published by Architecture Navale Classique Recherche Édition, and is a stunning continuation of that collection.

French-Warships-Age-SailFrench Warships in the Age of Sail 1765-1861
Rif Winfield & Stephen Roberts

In the past several decades, Rif Winfield published four beautiful volumes which provided detailed and specific listings of the warships that served in the Royal Navy, during what is considered the ‘Age of Sail’. These volumes are essential reference guides for anybody who studies this period, and are sufficiently well written and clearly laid out that enthusiasts can also enjoy them. Thankfully, Winfield has continued his efforts, and is now addressing the  French Navy. This period is one of change; it covers the end of the Ancien Regime, the Napoleonic Wars, and the long decades of peace that followed, prior to the introduction of the first steam powered warships. This book is filled with crisp drawings, paintings and other illustrations. It is a fitting addition to libraries and coffee tables, and you could spend hours poring through this book.

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Paul Howard & Fiona McCall’s Cruising Guide Guide to the West Coast

Welcome back; world sailors. Sailors Fiona McCall; Paul Howard and their children Penny and Peter acknowledge welcome-back greetings from boats and spectators at harbouriront yesterday after their five-year; round-the-world Voyage aboard their boat; Lorcha.

We first met Paul Howard, Fiona McCall, and their two children Penny and Peter, when they sailed into Toronto Harbour in 1988, after a five-year round-the-world voyage in their 29-foot junk-rigged craft Lorcha.

Crowds were on hand to greet them. Luckily for us, their publisher was on the ball, and we had copies on hand of their book All in the Same Boat. We promptly sold our 100 copies, as Paul and Fiona busied themselves greeting people and signing copies of their book. It was a memorable occasion.

Since then, we have followed the adventures of this extraordinary sailing couple, who are still out there doing it.

Fiona McCall & Paul Howard aboard Carpe Diem

By Paul Howard & Fiona McCall

In October 2012 We sailed from Toronto on our 38foot Catamaran with a destination of  the west coast: British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.  Our plan was to head there directly, spend two seasons cruising that west coast, then cruise our way back to Toronto.  We were not acquainted with cruising the west coast.  Other than flying out a few times and knowing some people with boats, we had not spent any appreciable time on the water there.  These were new cruising grounds to us, though we were seasoned cruisers in many other parts of the world.


We needed cruising guides and I like to have lots of information.  When we have a destination I like
headed south julyAlaska 035to know the choices and reasons for going there.   We arrived in Victoria, B.C. in May, 2013, and headed north, up the inside passage of  British Columbia, to Ketchican, Alaska, and returned south to leave the boat in Anacortes, Washington, to haul the b oat ashore in November.  The following spring we returned to Anacortes in April to launch Carpe Diem and headed north again and carried on to Juneau, Alaska, and beyond to the Icy Straits and returned down the inside passage again visiting some favourite places and some not yet visited.    Thus we made two round trips on this coast covering thousands of miles in a relatively short time, but nowhere nearly exhausting the list of harbours and anchorages.  We sailed from Neah Bay at the tip of the Olympic Penninsula on the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Cape Flattery at the end of September, 2014, direct to San Francisco, following the recommendations in the Douglas Pacific Coast guide (see below).  Following is a summary/review of the cruising guides we used that does not include land based guides such as Lonely Planet guides, etc.


Waggoner Cruising GuideWaggoners Cruising Guide, Robert Hale

Covers from the Puget Sound (Seattle, Washington area) through the complete British Columbia coast and across the Dixon Entrance to Ketchican, Alaska, the first port in Southeast Alaska.  There is no equivalent guide for further north in Alaska even though the typical cruise in southeast Alaska is north to Juneau, Icy Straits and Glacier Bay.

This is an essential guide for this coast for its information on marinas, fuel stops and availability, grocery stores, liquor stores, hardware, etc.  It is easy to read and well organized in logical sections with locator maps.  There are lots of glossy photos and good pilotage information, though it is short on suggested anchorages outside of towns. The Douglass’s Exploring guides are often quoted in this text (see below).  Updated annually.

Exploring Vancouver Island’s West CoastExploring guides, a series of guide books by Don Douglass & Reanne Hemingway-Douglas.

Including: Exploring the South Coast of British Columbia; Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia; Exploring Southeast Alaska; (and less relevant to this section but important to us on our sail from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Mexico is the Exploring the Pacific Coast).  They have published additional guides to the above, but these are the ones we used.

These are essential guides for travelling this coast.   We are experienced cruisers and enjoy getting off the beaten path to lonely and isolated anchorages but also enjoy the occasional marina and town.  For marinas and towns the Waggoner guide was all the info we needed.  For everything and everywhere else our first reference was the Exploring series.  The Douglass’s often quote sections of the government coastal pilot and then give additional detailed information from their own experience along with (in many cases) diagrams of anchorage entrances, rocks and kelp to avoid and just where to drop the hook.  We  followed their directions religiously and never found an error in their recommendations.  The guides are a pleasure to read and an invaluable reference.

Inside Passage Route Plannng Map, North PortionThe Inside Passage, Route Planning Map, South Portion and North Portion published by Fine Edge.

These strip maps are another essential tool for navigating along this coast.  When we began cruising up this coast we were not familiar enough with the geography to know major passages from minor passages.  Referencing the charts and guides still left some guessing as to what particular island to go around on which side when going from one anchorage to the next, especially in the more isolated areas.  These two strip maps give an orientation to the geography of the area in a way we did not find anywhere else.  The alphabetised list with Lat/Long waypoints allows one to immediately locate any island, town, passage, mountain, anchorage, etc. and know its relative position to others.  Essential reference for cruising this area.

Ports and Passes; Published by Ports and Passes.

Tide and current tables covering from Olympia, Washington, to Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

I like having a paper book with tides and currents.  We used digital charts but also carried paper charts for the entire area.   Digital chart programs give tide and current timing for state of tide and current direction for their coverage area.  I find the annually updated paper books much more accurate that the digital chart tables that are electronically generated for decades.  Also, I like being able to look up tides and currents for planning departure timing for the following morning without turning on a laptop or tablet.  I did begin cruising in tidal areas on my own boat in 1975, so perhaps this is a generational issue.

I liked the Ports and Passes book for the accuracy of its information and for the extras it included, sort of like an almanac with information on the local area beyond the tide and current tables.  You will note that the book does not cover north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, just near the Alaska border.  While in Alaska we used the digital and on-line information plus the small local give-away tide tables that are often a free-bee at fishing supply stores.  I felt the lack of a comprehensive tide and current book in Alaska and would purhase the appropriate government publications if I go back there.  Put Ports and Passes on the essential list.

Anchorages and Marine ParksAnchorages and Marine Parks, Peter Vassilopoulos.

As the title suggests, this book deals mainly, but not exclusively, with marine parks.  We found it more useful in the Vancouver Island area, and the San Juan and Gulf Islands, though the book includes information up to Prince Rupert and the Dixon Entrance.  There are few places to get ashore in the more islolated anchorages but marine parks always have a landing area and this book tells you where they are and what facilities are available.  There are diagrams indicating anchorages and aerial photos and some anchorage waypoints but the Douglass books have more details and pilotage information.  Some parks have floats and mooring bouys for inexpensive mooring (much less than marinas) and there are almost always places to anchor, too.  There is an extensive  portion on the west coast of Vancouver Island, though we did not go there.  The coverage of Haida Gwaii is minimal, both the Douglas and Waggoners is more useful there.  The coverage does not extend into Alaska.  Not essential, though it is useful and well organized.

Boat Camping Haida Gwaii: A Small Vessel Guide to the Queen Charlotte IslandsBoat Camping Haida Gwaii, Neil Frazer.

Written mostly for kayakers and small powerboat cruisers who are tent camping in Haida Gwaii.  The information is more relevant to those people than us cruising sailboats but does have good information on these fascinating islands.  We loved Haida Gwaii and were awestruck when visiting the heritage villages and when speaking with the watchmen, the only inhabitants of those long abandoned homesites.  Any and all information about this special area was eagerly studied.

Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide Vol. 1: Gulf Islands & Vancouver IslandA Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide, Volume 1, Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island, Anne & Laurence Yeadon-Jones.

We only purchased one vloume of this series of six cruising guides that cover the Canadian part of the northwest coast.  They seemed to be more geared to inexperienced boaters who were not going very far or for very long, two week summer holidays or weekend cruising.  The book has lots of drawings and capsule maps of towns with recommendations for restaurants and shopping.  I grew impatient with the guide as I felt it was not intended for someone of our experience or the distances we intended to travel.  The book does not contain as many or as varied anchorages as the Douglass books.  It would be a good guide for local cruising or a companion to the Waggoners and Douglass guides if staying in one area for a period of time.

Continue reading Paul Howard & Fiona McCall’s Cruising Guide Guide to the West Coast