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Total Loss: A Collection of 45 First-hand Accounts of Yacht Losses at Sea with a Summary of the Lessons to be Learned Paperback – August 4, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sheridan House; 2nd Edition edition (August 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574091468
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574091465
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

For leisure reading, Total Loss is highly recommended. For anyone going offshore, it should be required reading.
(Sailing and Yachting )

A collection of 40 firsthand accounts of yacht losses at sea with a summary of the lessons to be learned, the stories will make the reader a better, or a retired, sailor.
(Wooden Boat )

About the Author

Paul Gelder is the editor of Yachting Monthly and has sailed thousands of miles in a variety of boats. He has written two books on round the world yacht races, The Loneliest Race and InterSpray's Race Around the World. He is no stranger to misfortune afloat. His boat, appropriately called Phoenix, a 30-ft trimaran, was blown ashore in a gale and rebuilt after being declared a total loss by the insurers.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian Arthur on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Forty-five fascinating accounts of every sailor's worst nightmare. Whether you own a sailboat, or just go sailing regularly, buy this book! Even if you don't sail, it is still a morbidly interesting read. Aside from hair-raisingly gruesome tales of sailboat shipwrecks (both protracted week long foundering, and instantaneous and catastrophic crashes are covered), the book also analyzes what went wrong in each case. These analyses may avert some future disasters, and probably have prevented many already. None of the stories involve deaths, only some injuries, but still should please even the most voyeuristic reader's desire to vicariously experience carnage at sea.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Houtz on July 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book badly needs to be edited by a marine expert. It could also be improved by publishing some statistics on how many such sinkings occur so how likely are some of the events.

Conclusions are from the skippers involved. This leads to errors and even deliberate misinformation.

The story of "Strumpet" is the worst; a father and two young boys spend the night on a yacht. The two boys have a kerosene lamp for light in the forward berth. The boys are called to breakfast and then the boat sets out, and soon the interior is engulfed in flame and smoke.

The skipper's explanation is that the boys put out the lamp, but supposedly the residual heat of the glass set the sleeping bags on fire and the fiberglass ignited with miraculous speed.

Finally the guy states that he will never go cruising in a fiberglass yacht again!

You tell me: Do you think the residual heat of glass ignited the sleeping bags--or do you think maybe two young boys forgot to put out the lamp before coming down to bacon and egg? Here's a clue: The first words out of the submitter's mouth in the conclusion are "Naturally the insurance company required a full explanation." Obviously they got a doozey.

Other stories also have questionable conclusions. One yacht's sinking is blamed on an off center companionway. Then it is noted that the ballast shifted in the yacht, causing her to list over far enough on the same side to allow water in. OK, the cause of this yacht's sinking is the shifting ballast, the companionway location was NOT the cause of the sinking. If your yacht has an off center companionway, don't worry, it's OK.

There are some REALLY GOOD STORIES!
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By secret squirrel on July 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
i've probably read `total loss' 5 times now, it is an extremely hard book to put down and every year or so i find myself gravitating back to it again; for the armchair sailor these quick 45 stories are very entertaining and for the real sailor they are hugely, hugely instructive. for anyone who sails more than 4 hours from port, on a boat of any size, from dinghy to open 60, i believe the book is simply a top 10 "must read" for a really comprehensive anecdotal understanding of accidents and how they happen. each story is from a different, first person author, ranging over much of the 20th century, yet the book somehow achieves a coherent and very readable tone that other sailing compendiums regrettably lack. another, very similar, also excellent book is Joachim Shult's "mayday." enjoy, and leave a clean wake!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Wegman on January 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has it all!

There is a high portion of learning by mistakes of other skippers. Most of them were very experienced, but that did not made them invulnerable. Coote and Gelder are clear in their analysis: it can happen to us all. The only way to be sure is to stay at home, reading in front of your fireplace. If you choose for that option, you will have nice thrills reading "Total Loss".

Warning: Do not put this book on your bedside table! It will certainly keep you awake...
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