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on May 1, 2012
A friend likened the author, Lewis Francis Herreshoff (LFH), to Thoreau when he handed me a copy of LFH's "Sensible Cruising Designs". LFH's "The Compleat Cruiser" is like Thoreau's Walden even though it is patterned after the Complete Angler. From the first page you will be immersed in an enchanting summer of good cruises while answering what makes it good and by impute a good life. The Compleat Cruiser is a Socratic story--teaching while it entertains. It raises questions and answers them. It shows how to keep the bright work bright during the season--without using precious vacation time to apply an extra coat. How to teach children to right a dinghy and bail it out, how to retrieve the man overboard and how to climb back aboard from the water. The story places you in situations that are leisurely resolved with good old-fashioned common sense which seems rather lacking these days. It takes you back to a time when men know what to do, and they did it.

More importantly, it subtly asks you to reevaluate why you go cruising as part of what makes your life good.

The story takes place over the course of one summer with a couple of weekend cruises in June and a week long cruise in August along Cape Cod, Newport and Block Island in the 50's. A little racing, a little eating, and erudite gentlemen discussing the finer points of yachting with each other and four or five well behaved children. The wives are pleasant partners, never shrill, and enjoyably present. How it was and how it should be. The protagonist Goddard is a 50 something lawyer with a 14 year old daughter Primrose, her friend Vanessa, and wife named Mrs. Goddard. Never an uncivil word is issued. Safe for the whole family. My children enjoy about 10 pages per night when they are tucked in their bunks.

Several of LFH's designs like the Meadowlark and Rozinante are featured prominently as well as the history of other small boats and cruising canoes like the Rob Roy.

After reading you might find yourself turning in your West Marine Advantage Card--who needs a knot meter when you can gauge speed by the length of the quarter wake? Why install a windlass which requires 30 feet of #2 gauge wire run along the interior of your vessel when you can break out your anchor with block and tackle from the cockpit? Why use a winch and a winch handle to get the last 4 inches of halyard when you can turn the main halyard into a 3 part tackle with the tack horn? How do you get a boat off the breakwater after a storm with a dinghy, a rode, and an undersized anchor? How do you cook a hearty delicious meal without stuffing yourselves in a pressure cooker in about an hour? How do you keep the pests at bay and keep your meal cleanup easy? The author goes into an impressive logical discussion regarding costs of sailing and dollars per enjoyment--literally allowing you to fix a price to your passion. All questions answered by the LFH in due time. Certainly, a beneficial read.

This is cruising in a time when men knew what to do and they did it rather than whimper at the dock fixing a piece of technology.
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on November 20, 2004
The primary purpose of the book is cruising advice and L. Francis Herreshoff shares some inginuity while covering topics such as cooking, exercise, ground tackle, paint, wood treatment, workshops, tenders, piloting...

Also like many great cruising yacht designers, Herreshoff is full of opinions. Here are a few examples:

On Exercise: "...the young American is too lazy to paddle...if they had taken a moderate ourdoor exercise like paddling, their nerves would be much more at rest and they would enjoy life more, and live longer."

On Power Boats: "We don't hate all power boats, only those modern freaks that look like the result of a collision between an automobile and a dining car...The motor boat designers have to design craft down to the taste of foolish and uncouth individuals...It's a shame that they are not compelled to anchor away from the yacht club for they spoil the looks of the waterfront."

Class: "...vacationing women whose desire to look risque had taken the place of wholesome feminie beauty."

I learned much from this entertaining book and will read it again.
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on April 6, 1999
This book is written as a story, but the plot elements really only exist in order to string together pieces of information in a fashion which is entertaining to read. Topics covered include how to make a proper chowder, how to launch a boat off the beach, binoculars vs. telescopes, a good bit of boating history, anchoring, and many, many others. Herreschoff is quite opinionated, and this book is definitely an antique, but it is good reading and much of what he writes still applies today.
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on July 8, 2001
Originally written as a series of articles for THE RUDDER magazine during WW II, the abridged book-version is classic Americana. LFH manages to present a treasure chest of timeless yachting skills, while introducing the reader to the pre-multi-culti New England of his early 20th Century youth, a culture of genteel Yankee community in symbiotic relationship with a maritime inheritance of unpresendented abundance and beauty. If you want to learn the basics of pre-plastic messing about in good boats, while embarked on a time-capsule voyage to a bye-gone New England, still firmly in Yankee hands, this book will take you there. You will return with a ditty bag full of Herreshoff's life-experience, and eyes wide open, a budding student of the art of low-tech, high-touch cruising, a curiously-Yankee spiritual path of a transendant nature.
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on December 21, 2010
L.F. Herreshoff was part of a family who are one of the anchors of New England sailing. He was opinionated to say the least. This does not mean that his thoughts had no value. This work, although dated, provides some lessons for sailors and a look at the Ozzie and Harriet days of American culture.

Modeled on Walton's, The Complete Angler, Herreshoff presents his philosophy and practical suggestions within a narrative of a group of boats sailing in the Cape Cod area. The people are functional families of wise parents and polite children including teenage girls who ask appropriate questions, learn their lessons, and when ashore are only interested in shopping and historic sights.

These are well-to-do people, upper middle class, presenting a time just before the 1960's of values that they thought would never change.
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on November 23, 2011
Love this book! Absolutely love this book!!!!!

Here is the caveat: I've only read through page 148. Why, because my book does not contain pages 149 through 212. The book arrived in pristine condition. It appears to be a fully bound paperback book with no flaws, but it is missing about 60 pages. I'm going along enjoying the story about binoculars, all of sudden the conversation goes to Nantucket whaling ships? WTF? Then I look down, the left page clearly is marked 148. The right page is marked 213. I look through the table of contents, and sure enough the book is missing all those pages (including the ceder bucket story, which I was so looking forward to hearing :).

Even without those 60 odd pages, pages 1 through 148 earn five stars on there own. I started to return the book and get a replacement copy, but I would much rather get a replacement copy, then return the book. I don't want to be without a copy; even if it isn't a 'compleat' copy, pardon the pun (I guess I know what 'compleat' means now. Another irony is one of the publishing house type snippet reviews on the back cover actually reads "... a delightful 370 page..." Thanks for rubbing my nose in it. Why couldn't I have got a complete book instead of the reviewers who didn't appreciate the writing style.). Plus I don't want to return the book, wait around a few weeks for the replacement, and possibly end up with another book missing the same pages?

I read the reviews before purchasing, and vaguely recall a person describing a similar problem; which didn't seem to make any sense at the time, so I blew it off. Now I can't seem to find that persons review. I also vaguely recall either the publisher or amazon resolved their problem. Either way, I don't have much of a problem, but I do want to read the cedar bucket story @#$$%%!

Well regardless, I got my money's worth already. Pages 213 through 369 will just be gravey. I sure do want to hear that cedar bucket story. Ah SNITZEL!

EDIT TO ABOVE: After reading further I discoverd the book was only missing 30 some odd pages. After contacting Amazon, they replaced the misprint with a new book. The book is fantastic, and so was Amazon.
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on October 14, 2010
This is a great book. Sort of a series of fables, the characters are never more fleshed out that Aesop's Tortoise and Hare, but they get the job done. How many years is it now since this was written? And still, powerboaters are the same menace they were when L Francis first wrote his mini-screeds against them, trendy boats are still being sold to people who don't know what they're doing, clever bad anchors still abound, rigs intended to cheat a rule are found on little cruising boats, making them hard to handle and slow and expensive. Madness.

Some of the boat design stuff is dated. Rozinante is a very pretty and useful cruiser for a keelboat, but modern sensibilities tend more to very shallow draft and the legacy of Munroe and the sharpies, or to multihulls. The attitudes towards women are, uh, well intentioned but of another century, let's say. But the good sense that pervades the whole thing is just wonderful, like a breath of fresh air.

If you like boats you'll like this book. I re-read it every couple of years.
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on December 20, 2011
As a long time cruiser and live aboard I was surprised at the contribution this book makes to modern sailing skills. It is very readable and full of interesting sailing lore and knowledge from an earlier age. Absolutely loved it and have recommended it to many other accomplished cruisers.
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on March 21, 2007
I thought this was a wonderful book. It tells a simple story of people meeting up and going sailing, including a cruise of several days. In the process of telling this story, the author imparts a continuous stream of sailing knowledge throughout. I just completed a review of "Sea Steading", by FitzGerald, and just realized that these books have the same philosophy on sailing and opinion on powerboats. But, this book is more of a joy to read.

The Compleat Cruiser is a bit dated, written in the 50s I believe, which adds an interesting historical aspect. But, it is also a shame that the story isn't updated to reflect what we would find today in the locales described in the book. Read the book and then find a kid to give it to, you might create a sailor out of him or her.
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on December 5, 2006
this is a fun travel read that also explains fine points of cruising and boat handling for several boat types from a master of simplicity and directness.

the dovetailing of the information with the story is brillant and a LF Herreshoff masterpiece - as elegant as a rozinante!
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