Authors’ Favourites

Some of our Favourite Authors’ Favourite Books

Linda Kenyon • Sam Llewellyn • Lin Pardey • Amanda Swan Neal • Sue Williams • Blue

Linda Kenyon

Linda Kenyon

Author of Sea Over Bow: A North Atlantic Crossing. Follow her blog at

I learned to sail on Georgian Bay and spent many happy hours cruising idly from place to place, little realizing that these waters were once the highway for those who lived on the Bruce Peninsula. Into the Blue, by Andrea Curtis, vividly recreates a time when steamers carried passengers here and there all around the bay. Weaving together fact and fiction, she traces the last journey of the J.H. Jones, which disappeared somewhere between Cape Croker and Lion’s Head on its last run of the season on November 22, 1906. This is an intriguing and sobering tale for those of us who only know these waters as a summer playground.
by Curtis, Andrea
Award-winning journalist Curtis explores the shadows cast over her family by a century-old shipwreck, and uncovers the promise, danger, and tragedy of early life on the Great Lakes.
288 Pages • softcover • 2004

Sam Llewellyn

Sam Llewellyn

His most recent sailing thriller is Singlehand. Find out more about Sam and his work at

I realize that this is cheating, but my favourite nautical book is the entire Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. A 17-volume compendium of complete marine happiness, with brilliant characters, exquisite—sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious—detail, and spot-on seafaring. The series has been described as a roman fleuve and compared to Proust. The first, yes, certainly. The second, well, all right, but much, much more interesting, and saturated with salty goodness.

I was born in the Isles of Scilly, 30 miles west of England’s Land’s End, and I’ve spent plenty of time on and beside the sea all over the world. Nowadays I sail off the west coast of Scotland, which is not only beautiful but infested with characters who are doing the best they can in a hostile world. These are the kind of people who turn up in my seagoing crime novels.

by O'Brian, Patrick
The first of O'Brian's now famous Aubrey/Maturin novels. It contains all the action and excitement which could be hoped for in a historical novel, but it also displays the qualities which have put O'Brian ahead of his competitors: his depiction of the detail of life aboard a Nelsonic man-of-war, of weapons, food, conversation and ambience, of the landscape and of the sea.
416 Pages • softcover • 1970

Lin Pardey

Lin and Larry Pardey are rightly known as “America’s first couple of cruising.” Catch up with them at

One of my definite favourites is Alan Watts’ Instant Weather Forecasting. I have worn out two copies of this book, thumbing through it at sea and comparing it to the clouds around me. My reason for choosing this book? With the help of its photos, the description of what they tell about the weather, I have come to understand what changes to expect. The more I used it, the more I became interested in the science of forecasting.

I have spent the past two years voyaging on a 40-foot Van de Stadt cutter. Using what I learned from this new adventure, I recently updated Self Sufficient Sailor and added almost 40% new material for this 3rd edition. The book was written with my partner Larry, with whom I’ve sailed more than 210,000 miles, including east- and west-about circumnavigations on engine-free boats that Larry and I built for ourselves. Due to Parkinson’s disease and the ensuing dementia, Larry had to stop sailing after 47 years and he has been in care for the past four.

by Watts, Alan
5th ed. A photographic guide to forecasting the weather in the hours ahead. By comparing the sky to the 24 colour photos, the user can ascertain what the likely weather trends will be. This revised and updated edition takes into account the new ways users can receive professional weather forecasts, factor them into their own cloud observations, and develop an even better understanding of how the weather will change.
64 Pages • softcover • 2016

Amanda Swan Neal

Amanda Swan Neal

Her latest publication is Marine Diesel Essentials: A Learning and Coloring Book, a learning and colouring book. Learn more about Amanda at

I recommend Fatal Passage: The Untold Story of John Rae. As a co-leader of sail-training expeditions to both the Arctic and Antarctic, I immensely enjoyed this book and its portrayal of how little was known of the Arctic in the 19th-century. John Rae’s preparation—learning about arctic survival from the Inuit and First Nations—is fascinating, but his ability as a leader, seaman and documentarian are truly enlightening. I enjoyed reading about humorous early onboard antics and was hooked, to the end, by the crew’s determination in presenting their discoveries to the world.

I’m a passionate sailor formerly a sailmaker, rigger and world racer (sailing on Maiden in the 1989 Whitbread Race).  The story of Maiden is now a major film by Sony Pictures. Currently I’m a seminar presenter and sail-training expedition leader. My focus, when I’m not adding to my 350,000 sea miles by reaching for blue horizons, is to demystify life at sea through books.

by McGoogan, Ken
An absorbing account of an astonishing story, hidden from the world for almost 150 years. John Rae was sent by the British Admiralty to find out what became of Franklin and his two ships. He returned having discovered the truth about the expedition, including evidence of cannibalism, and the final link in the Northwest Passage. He was ostracized for these discoveries; only now does his story come to light.
336 Pages • softcover • 2002

Sue Williams

Sue Williams

Her compelling new memoir, Ready to Come About, relates an improbable, often perilous adventure on the high seas. A Globe and Mail recommended read, it’s been on the publisher’s bestselling list for several months. Find out more about Sue at

My all-time favourite nautical book is The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. In 1968, Crowhurst entered the famous solo, non-stop, round-the-world sailing race, the Golden Globe. His boat wasn’t ready and its design was unproven. His electronic inventions on board were new and untested. His sailing experience was limited; his motivation for going, flawed. Shortly after his departure, things began to go wrong. Instead of admitting defeat, he concocted an elaborate scheme to deceive everyone back home. Eight months later his boat was found intact, adrift in the mid-Atlantic, with no one on board.

Through logbooks, articles and interviews with key people, Tomalin and Hall pieced together a convincing account of Crowhurst’s troubled life and his final days. This book is a gripping portrayal of the power of hubris and despair, and of one man’s tragic journey into madness. I couldn’t put it down.

Strange Last Voyage
by Tomalin, Nicholas & Ron Hall
Republished as the tie-in edition for a movie starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz ("The Mercy"), this is journalists Tomalin and Hall's gripping reconstruction of one of the great voyaging mysteries. In the autumn of 1968, Donald Crowhurst set sail from England as a participant in the first singlehanded non-stop around-the-world sailboat race. Few knew that he was an inexperienced deep-water sailor--his goal was to showcase a navigational device he had developed. Crowhurst's boat was found in mid-Atlantic eight months later but the skipper was not on board.
304 Pages • softcover • 2017



Shop dog, the real brains behind the operation has yet to be published.

Blue loves The Adventures of Onyx and The Race to Mackinac, a story about two rambunctious puppies, Search and Rescue, onboard a Coast Guard boat during the Chicago to Mackinac Island sailboat race. When the crew needs help rescuing a drifting sailor, Search and Rescue prove they can live up to their names. Great for kids ages 4 to 12.
by Benson, Tyler
More than 350 competitors in the Chicago to Mackinac Island sailboat race are nearing the finish line, but trouble is brewing. An overnight weather shift brings high gusts and huge waves, and the Coast Guard goes on high alert. Meanwhile, on the response boat, Onyx's two rambunctious puppies, Search and Rescue, are creating a distraction. Unlike Onyx, the pups have not yet learned to stay calm and listen to commands. But when the crew needs help to rescue a drifting sailor, Search and Rescue prove they can live up to their names. Ages 4 to 12.
32 Pages • hardcover • 2019