Great Adventures in Small Boats is a survey of the best literature about small-boat blue-water sailing. Originally published in 1948 it was reprinted in paperback until 1973. It is arranged thematically, with chapters on what personal qualities are needed for long voyages, the qualities of a good boat, what to look for in a crew, disasters and near misses, storms, encounters with ‘samaritans and pirates’, navigation, and trip preparation.

The authors surveyed are : Alain Gerbault, Ray Kauffmann, Rockwell Kent, Jack London, Dwight Long, Marin-Marie, Richard Maury, Conor O’Brian, Harry Pidgeon, William Albert Robinson, Joshua Slocum, Ralph Stock, and Erling Tambs. Each chapter is illustrated with several short, and one or two long, excerpts.

I nearly always enjoy small-boat sailing stories, and this survey more than met my expectations. It is interesting to see the similarities and contrasts across so many different sailors (and authors) - more similarities than differences, I think. They all seem to have a light and ironical attitude towards life, and a generally positive and open attitude towards people. Even the style of writing is similar, for the most part. It may be that they were all influenced by Slocum - certainly they would have all read Slocum’s books.

If you can find this book, get it. I found my copy in a used bookstore in Friday Harbor Washington, by pure chance. There are a few 3rd-party sellers on Amazon for various editions of the book.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: Great Adventures In Small Boats
  • Author: David Klein
  • Published: 1963
  • ISBN: 0020978502
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 5.0 stars