With summer well underway in the Northern Hemisphere one of the great pleasures of this time of year is relaxing outdoors with a good book – and a chilled beverage. This BookPick features three engrossing reads for the beach or patio plus two additional offerings, one on knots, splices and whippings; the other providing the means to construct a complete paper fleet of the Battle of Trafalgar. And last but not least, my favourite recipe for rum punch is thrown in!
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The Battle of Trafalgar by Florian Richter and Peter Dennis
With just a craft knife and glue you can form line of battle once again for the iconic engagement that saw both victory for England and the tragic death of Admiral Lord Nelson. This book will appeal particularly to wargamers but also to all those looking to more fully appreciate the genius of Nelson. Several companion books are recommended by the authors including the excellent ‘The Trafalgar Companion’ by Mark Adkin, which was one of the many references I consulted when writing my Kydd title, Victory.
Knot Know-How by Steve Judkins and Tim Davison
This compact little volume begins with the ten knots everyone should know then describes over 40 other knots. You will learn how to seize (sew or bind two ropes together); whip (stop the end of a rope unstranding); and splice (join ropes permanently together). Knots are often difficult to follow in pictures but these are exceptionally clear and easy to follow in their multi-colour detail. With very clear step-by-step diagrams, modern-day sailors will find much of interest, and students of the age of sail can practice some of the knots that every ordinary seaman in Kydd’s day had to learn.
Seafurrers by Philippa Sandall
Sailors often have a soft spot for felines and through much of history cats have been found aboard both naval and merchant ships, not just to keep the rodent population in check, but as much-loved companions. This delightful little book presents thirty-eight true tales of furry shipmates, including Trim (who circumnavigated Australia); Tom (the sole feline survivor of the sinking of USS ‘Maine’) and Simon (a veteran of the Yangtze Incident). Charmingly illustrated with the most original and entrancing of creations I’ve seen, the book is also chock full of maritime trivia. It will be right there by me for my next sea trip.
The Grey Wolves of Eriboll by David M Hird
The surrender on Loch Eriboll of the German U-boat fleet at the end of World War II was perhaps the principal event in the war’s endgame which signified to the British people that peace really had arrived. This revised, updated and expanded new edition gives career details of not only the 33 commanders who accompanied their boats to Loch Eriboll but also of a further 23 previous commanders of those U-boats. It also provides a wealth of historical insights and personal memories of those who witnessed the events and is a remarkably interesting read. A definitive account of a secret mass surrender of interest to all students of naval history.