Best Nautical Books for the Merchant Mariner

Just interested in what some of your favorite nautical books from the summer are. I’m looking to read something other than school text books!

My favorites include:

Steaming to Bamboola - The World of a Tramp Freighter
Wanderer - Sterling Hayden

Steven Callahan: Adrift at Sea” – Steven Callahan
"Sailing Alone around the World"-- Slocum
"From the Bridge: Authentic Modern Sea Stories" – Kelly Sweeney
"In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain’s Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History" – Skip Strong
"Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings" – Johnathan Raban
"Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard" – Michael Ruhlman

That rocks

never heard of most of them. Add them to my reading list.

“Steaming to Bamboola”!..there’s a title I haven’t heard of in a very long while. Christopher Buckley’s early daze working as a seaman on the SS Transcolorado tramping for MSC in the late 70’s. One of the most realistic books about life in the post WWII merchant marine that I have ever run across and a far more humorous and enjoyable read than “Looking for a Ship” which to me was all about the American mariners going to sea for the maximum buck than for the life of it.

Some other maritime (not naval) seafaring titles to consider:

contemporary authors:

[li] Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas"…William Benedetto[/li][li]“Simple Courage: The True Story of Peril on the Sea”…Frank Delaney[/li][li]“Until the Sea Shall Free Them”:…Robert Frump[/li][/ul]

authors from years past:

[li]“The Captain”…Jan der Hartog[/li][li] “Grey Seas Under” & “The Serpent’s Coil”…Farley Mowatt[/li][li]most of the works of Wilbur Smith[/li][li]likewise Douglas Reeman[/li][li]not to be missed, any of the books by Alan Villiers[/li][li]the little remembered Colin Glencannon stories by Guy Gilpatrick[/li][li]and of course, the sailor’s sailor…Tristian Jones[/li][/ul]

and many, many others that I just can’t quite recall at just this moment, but which I am sure will come back to me soon…

Slocum and Bligh have NOTHING on ERNIE.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” is an amazing tale of Ernest Shackleton’s 2 year expedition to Antarctica where his ship was stuck in ice and crushed.

MY GOD! I totally forgot about Sir Ernest! How could I have I have made such a glaring omission? I think I’ll now have go pay pennance by smearing myself with ashes or better yet, making an 1800mile open boat voyage in the Southern Ocean winter…(now that is punnishment!)
The ENDURANCE Expedition ranks as certainly the top seafaring adventure tale in my own opinion. It truly encompasses every element of great heroism. The only other possible close runner up is Bligh’s open boat voyage.
Capt. Macan: Have you read John Thomson’s biography of Frank Worsley titled “Shackleton’s Captain”. Now there was a captain’s CAPTAIN! They just don’t make men like that anymore which includes your’s truly…I am personally and professionally humbled by a man with such ability, fortitude and a typical New Zealander’s own unique “no worries” personality.

Tania Aebi, (1989). [I]Maiden Voyage[/I]. Ballantine Books. Link

No have not read that one. Will have to Amazon that one out to Guam. I did just pick up “Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer” at the Navy Exchange though. Written by a financial expert, It highlights his relationship with his crew and analyzes the techniques he employed to keep the team working together to survive. I found it a great complement to the original story I read years ago, and hope to employ some of Shackleton’s skills leading with authority, integrity, humor, and compassion aboard my own vessel. It wasn’t JUST his skills. Adventure and experience are one thing, but being well respected and admired among all his crew is the ultimate complement to the man.

On a side note “The Ship and the Storm” by Jim Carrier.
Tragic story of a 280 foot windjammer schooner that went down in Hurricane Mitch in 1998 off Roatan, Central America. Eerie story reminescent of the “The Perfect Storm”.
Sorry, last one…“Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II” by Robert Kurson that tells the story of a mystery u-boat found off NJ in 1991, that kept claiming lives long after it sunk in the effort to identify it.

The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby. Greenhorn signs on to a square rigger. Like 2 years before the mast but way funnier.

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Two Years Before the Mast RH Dana- Worked on a tallship ([B]Pilgrim)[/B] that did living history programs based on the book, still love to read about early CA, before it was ruined
The Last of the Cape Horners: Firsthand Accounts From the Final Days of the Commercial Tall Ships by Spencer Apollonio

Seaspray and Whisky: Reminiscences of a Tramp Ship Voyage by Norman Freeman

Speaking of square riggers, there’s Joseph Conrad
[li]Lord Jim[/li][li]Typhoon[/li][li]Youth[/li][li]Nigger of the Narcissus[/li][li]Shadowline[/li][li]The Secret Sharer[/li][li]Heart of Darkness (not really a seafaring story but it is a classic for the ages)[/li][li]Mirror of the Sea…a memoir of Conrad’s seafaring days[/li][/ol]
Charlie Marlow is another master’s master. Jack Hawkins IS Captain Marlow!

Ice Brothers” by Sloan Wilson

I also recommend Maiden Voyage for “modern” books. I think Mirror of the Sea by Joseph Conrad is great. Ditto on Alan Villiers books. I could not get into the Patrick O’brien books but I loved the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester - start with Lt. Hornblower. Also Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. The Cruise of the Cachalot: Around the World After Sperm Whales by Frank Bullen.
Also, Desperate Voyage by John Caldwell.

Nights of Ice: True Stories of Disaster and Survival on Alaska’s High Seas” by Spike Walker in fact everything by him is really good.
The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd” By Richard Zacks, excellent story about Captain Kidd.
The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic” By David Shaw, story about a trans-atlantic side wheeler that collided with a steel fishing boat and later sank.
Survive the Savage Sea” By Dougal Robertson, a shipwrecked family survives in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier” By Diana Preston

The difference between a Sea Story and a Fairy Tale…
Fairy Tale begins, "Once upon a time."
Sea Story begins, “Now this ain’t no shit.”

Best book I read in December was Max Hardberger’s book, Freighter Captain. The book is out of print but you can pick it up second hand from used book dealers on Amazon for about $10. Everyone who is working or thinking of upgrading or just trying to understand what the fruits and nuts in Washington D.C. are up to should invest in Capt. Leonard’s,New Hawsepipe.

Thank you Knotship for recomending Chris Buckleys, Steaming to Bamboola. I found it at the library and you’re right, it’s a great read.

Go to the gCaptain Amazon link and shake $10.17 loose from that big wad your carrying around. “In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain’s Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History” By Skip Strong, Twain Braden List Price: $14.95
Price: $10.17 Great read.

Another one I enjoyed “All the Drowned Sailors : The Tragic Fate of the U. S. S. Indianapolis” by Raymond B. Lech. This is the story of the loss of the USS Indianapolis in WW2.

On Tugboats” by Virginia Thorndike
"The Serpent’s Coil" by Farley Mowat

Two of my favorites have already been named, “Steaming to Bamboola” and “Looking for a Ship

A good friend of mine who once upon a time sailed as an AB on the SEALIFT ARABIAN SEA started to write about his trip to hell and back aboard her with the title of “Nine Knots to Nowhere”.
It is a crying shame that he never finished the book because his sea stories from that time on her were some of the funniest I had ever heard. A third engineer shooting himself up on watch and being found one day in the controlroom dead from an overdose. A chief engineer with a propeller tatooed on each bullock with the words twin screw tatooed over them. Being thrown in jail in Key West by a dyke cop, engines literally blowing up in the Atlantic and the ship needing to be towed back to port.
I don’t know what it was by those Sealift tankers but they were sure colorful in their own terrifying way. In their day, they were truly the pit of the US Merchant Marine.
Tim, if you read this board write your damn book! All of us mariners need it in this most dreary of businesses.

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Sobel - about how a simple clockmaker beat the “smart boys” at the British Royal star gazers factory in solving the most important problem of navigation in the 18th century.
The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte - an adventure novel about our world before it was agreed that Grenwich, England would be generally accepted as Zero degrees longitude.
Linda Greenlaw’s (she is the actual swordfish captain played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the movie THE PERFECT STORM)first book THE HUNGRY OCEAN is her best although she is now on the fourth book - third novel.