Book Review: How to Sail Around the World : Advice and Ideas for Voyaging Under Sail
Author: Hal Roth
Reviewed by Mike Bastin

Most sailors I know have "the Dream", the dream to one day sail around the world or at least do some extensive sailing to various remote parts of it. I am no exception to that. Get to 60, retire comfortably and hit the big blue! At least that was the plan, and then I had the fortunate experience of reading Hal Roth's book 'How to Sail Around the World'.

Roth brings a lifetime of experience to his writing and the book reflects this. It is well researched and comprehensive but not in a stuffy textbook way. From choice of hulls to sea safety he covers everything that an aspiring blue water sailor would want to know while using language and anecdotes that would keep even armchair sailors enthralled.

His writing style is one that creates an enjoyable read, counter pointing caution with seizing the day such as advising readers to maybe start small with short sails that push the comfort levels without committing to a life at sea. If you enjoy it on the one hand, donít wait for retirement, get out there younger. He backs up a lot of his points with real life stories, such as the one about the sailor who commissioned a beautiful new sailboat only to find out his wife hated sailing on their first time on the water.

I was particularly interested in the chapters on hull choice, boat size and rig as there never seems to be a definitive answer on what works best out there. Of course Roth doesn't categorically say what to choose either but he does weigh the pros and cons of each area with often brutal honesty and leaves the decision over what is best to the reader. As he points out repeatedly in the book, it really comes down to each reader's personal situation and preferences.

The biggest problem with planning for offshore cruising is knowing where to start, and how to make the right decisions to avoid financial or emotional ruin. This book takes the reader on an informative fun narrative that covers every aspect of extended cruising under sail. It will make you think carefully about your choices but the positive tone won't dissuade you unnecessarily from your dream.

Even those whose aspirations are a little more restrained will find the book useful. Most of the advice contained in it is just as pertinent for day sailors or weekend cruisers as for long distance blue water cruisers and the language, illustrations and anecdotes make it all very easy to understand even for novice sailors.

I still have the dream, but after reading Roth's book I think I'll start a little smaller, a little earlier and definitely a little smarter. This book is a must read for aspiring blue water sailors and for those who just dream and has become a permanent part of my reference library.

Publisher: International
Marine/Ragged Mountain Press
Published: 2003
Pages: 480

Mike Bastin is an ASA Sailing Instructor who sails and teaches for Northern Breezes Sailing School in Minnesota. Mike was born in Australia and has been sailing since he was 7.

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