by Capt. Scott Souders
As mariners, we’re constantly in search of “closeness.” Closeness with nature, with friends, ourselves, or a supernatural power calling us off the shore and onto the water. Some of the books on my list can help get you closer to that fantasy you had in your head when you first went boating, while others will help bring your feet closer to the ground, the next time you’re faced with a critical decision.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales has impacted me as a mariner more than any another book I’ve read, and it’s not even directly about boating. In Deep Survival, Gonzales gives a neurologist’s/therapist’s perspective of the decisions people make when under stress, particularly in survival situation. Not only are the survival stories he tells and his analytics of them riveting but this book gave me a window to peer into how my brain works when driving a boat. Often times just trying to dock a large boat can feel like a white-knuckle survival experience. Understanding where that stress comes from and how to fight back radically influenced how I make decisions from behind the helm.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lancing gave me an immense amount of respect for those who navigate solely by paper charts, rather than with an electronic chart plotter as I do. This book tells the true story of early 20th century explorer, Ernest Shackleton and his attempt to lead the first circumnavigation of Antarctica. Whether you are a serious blue water cruiser or just a day boater, all mariners know that creative problem solving and tolerance for adversity is a part of the expertise. Shackleton is the embodiment creative problem solving at sea and endures great adversity that really puts into perspective that time I lost my sunglasses to the bottom of the lake.
Pirate Latitudes BY Michael Crichton. This one is just for fun. It’s the perfect summer read. For the times when you’re at anchor with a summer lager in hand and need some help letting your mind wonder to a time and place where pirates ruled the seas and lawlessness was a part of a boater’s description. Put on lots of sunscreen, because once you find that warm place in the sun with this book you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
While a good book can often take us away, my hope is that these will help inspire you to draw closer to water. Enjoy!