Explore your Inner Captain: Great Reads about Nautical Pioneers

Ah, sailing: the full sail puffed up with pride, the wind whipping through my hair, the salty scent of brackish water. At least, for the next 89 minutes. Then I have to return the rental boat. 

The beautiful waterways in and around Seattle inspire us with dreams of great voyages, whether you’ve got  Old Salty moored in Lake Union or you don’t know a tiller from a topmast. If, like me, you just can’t get enough time on the water this summer, these stories of nautical pioneers are sure to slake your thirst for seafaring adventures. 

Pirate of Exquisite MindA Pirate of Exquisite Mind:  The Life of William Dampier, Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer by Diana and Michael Preston
This real-life Jack Sparrow resembles our favorite fictional pirates: even as he sets sail for daring and exotic adventures, he maintains a rich ethical and intellectual life.  Better still, he has left the lasting legacy of a real man.  If you’ve ever used a barbecue, seen a zebra, or read Gulliver’s Travels, you have touched the journey of this fantastic figure. 

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel
Eccentric geniuses, fierce competition, large sums of money and dysfunctional relationships.  This compelling history of the struggle to discover an accurate way of measuring longitude while at sea would have made the best reality TV of the 1700s. 

Sailing alone around the worldSailing Alone around the World by Joshua Slocum
The first man to circumnavigate the globe by himself shares the joys and terrors of his historic voyage.  His detailed nautical descriptions will appeal to the most seasoned sailor, but his knack for encapsulating a natural wonder or a tense situation in a few poignant words can’t miss with the landlubber. 

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
A fantastic introduction to seafaring for adults and children.  The life story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematical prodigy who profoundly affected nautical almanacs, also conveys a wealth of information about ships and sailing.  Bowditch’s extraordinary ability to pursue his dreams despite overwhelming obstacles is a powerful example which transcends the maritime context. 

        ~ Audrey, Central Library

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One Response to Explore your Inner Captain: Great Reads about Nautical Pioneers

  1. SCL says:

    Loved this post!! Placed holds on 3 of the books. Thanks.

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