As is my habit each year, I’ve collected a group of maritime themed books for land locked or winter bound mariners who might enjoy reading over the long cold months ahead. Besides the books for adults, I have also included several really unusual kids’ books which have caught my eye, and there is a new and very useful compilation of Lloyds Registers on a thumb drive.

First on the pile has to be the new Herreshoff, American Masterpieces by Maynard Bray and Claas van der Linde, with historic photos, and gorgeous contemporary photographs by Benjamin Mendlowitz, along with an introduction by Kurt Hasselbalch, the curator of the Hart Nautical Collection, MIT Museum in Cambridge.

A Sea Voyage is a pop up book for kids - and adults.

This is a sumptuous volume of almost 300 pages containing a host of information about some of the designs for the 2,000 boats built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, R.I. over the 67 years of its existence.

Thirty six iconic designs from the drawing board of N G Herresoff (1848 to 1938) are highlighted with meticulously reproduced original plans, including many details about rigging and spar plans from the Hart Collection (many never previously published). The photos are by Ben Mendlowitz and include boats under sail, boats at anchor or the dock, interior shots and photos of the half models and other items at the Herreshoff Museum.

The book was published in mid-November by WW Norton, and is dedicated to the legendary editor and classic boat lover Jim Mairs, who died in July. Fair warning, this book is not for the faint of heart as it weighs about 5.5 pounds, measures about 16” x 13.5” (in landscape format so that the boats hulls can be shown to advantage), and is priced at $100. It should also have come with a hankie to mop up the tears of envy.

The complete Lloyd’s register of Yachts 1878-1980 sounds like a publication that would take up many shelves in any maritime library. In fact, this is a “Thumb Drive” produced by the [British] Association of Yachting Historians with the support of Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd. All 94 volumes, 157 supplements, 104,000 pages were carefully digitized onto one small little device. It is fully searchable, has all the yacht flag pages in full color, contains 18 volumes of the Register of Classed Yachts 1981—2003, four yacht flag booklets in full color, a booklet of sail numbers as well as 1,600 pages detailing American yachts.

The Sea and the Snow recounts an expedition taking 50 years ago, from Australia to Heard Island.

You can purchase the USB memory stick (as it is called in England) from the AYH via the website The cost is 95 GBP plus shipping. They are beautifully designed on an ivory drive with the AYH logo on one side, and the Lloyds Register logo on the other. The project was shepherded along by Martin Black, Jeremy Lines and the late Theo Rye. Martin Black is the author of G L Watson, The Art and Science of Yacht Design, which received a many starred review in this column several years ago. Jeremy Lines is the archivist for the Camper and Nicholson Company, which must be a fascinating job. The third shepherd was the late Theo Rye, a man with a fine eye for the design and detail of classic boats, a truly gifted writer on the subject, and by all accounts a prince of a person.

For many years Peter Spectre produced an annual Mariner’s Book of Days, one of the most looked at and longed for annual engagement calendars. When Uncle Pete (as he is fondly known in parts of Maine) retired, he could not find anyone to take over the business and Sheridan Press stopped publishing for several years, or so I understand. But now Sheridan House has brought the project back in concept, if not quite in scope.

There is a wonderful picture of a schooner under full press of sail on the cover (no identification that I could find) and throughout the book there are photos, prints, quotes, nautical trivia and helpful information such as the phases of the moon. It is almost as good as the Spectre publication (perhaps they are building up towards perfection) but frankly, the fact that it is back at all is cause for celebration and great joy.

Tom Diaper's Logbook is not yet available outside of England.

Interestingly, Peter Spectre is not mentioned anywhere that I could find nor is an editor. You can purchase the book for $16.95 at the Lambert’s Cove Glass Shop (and book store) on Basin Road, Menemsha as well as many other maritime book treasures.

I always include a few kids books and this year I have two corkers. The first is Alpha, Bravo, Charlie written and illustrated by Sara Gillingham and published in May. International maritime signal flags were developed during the Great Age of Sail and used for communications between ships at sea, and between ships and shore. Besides standing for a specific letter, number or one of the repeater flags, many flags also have a specific meaning when used in isolation. Thus, the “G” flag means “I request a pilot” and “Z” is “I require a tug.”

The flags were visible at great distances for passing ships, and a combination of flags could be used to identify specific vessels, information which could then be relayed to owners, families and vendors ashore. The graphics in this book are very primary color (as signal flags are) and the book would be a wonderful gift for kids, for anyone interested in boats and the sea, or even an adult who wants to learn more about a very special and specialized form of communication so necessary in the days before radio transmissions.

My other kids book is a pop-up book titled A Sea Voyage by Gerard LoMonaco. He has designed and meticulously cut and assembled six different vessels (a caravel, an ocean liner, a life boat, etc.) on an appropriate bit of scenery. There is a suggested age range of four to eight years old, but the boats are actually quite delicate, as is the book. Perhaps it is more appropriate for an armchair bound sailor who wishes to puzzle over the vessels and enjoy memories, than for the twitchy fingers of even a 12 year old, particularly as it is quite expensive.

My next suggestion is one of the latest titles from Lodestar Books in London. The Sea and the Snow is an account of an expedition 50 years ago from Australia to Heard Island, deep in the southern ocean. Written by Philip Temple, with many previously unpublished photos, and introduced by the late Sir Edmund Hillary, the band of young adventurers was led by H. W. Tilman as skipper and navigator (as well as a mountaineer himself).

Alpha Bravo Charlie, a kids book about flag signals.

The group sailed west from Australia against the prevailing westerlies to an island about as remote as you can get, found a place to land (very difficult), and successfully climbed the volcano, then returned to their boat and sailed home. Some of the members of the expedition are still alive and meet periodically to trade sea and climbing stories. You can order this book online from Lodestar in London or copies are available at the store in Menemsha. It is a soft cover book costing the bargain rate of about $20.

My final suggestion is Tom Diaper’s Yacht Log which, alas, is not yet available on this side. I obtained a copy from England and have been enjoying reading the edition published in September, which includes lots of photos, a wonderful introduction by Tom Cunliffe, and is carefully annotated with dates. Tom Diaper was not from the east coast of England, as many racing crews and skippers were. He was from Itchen Ferry, a small village around a ferry landing for the River Itchen in Southampton, Hampshire. His father was also a notable racing skipper as were some of his brothers.

So there you have some great nautical reading for 2016-2017. Once you get the bottom of your boat prepped and ready for spring painting and the spars wooded and coats of varnish built up, you can settle in next to the wood stove for some exciting and informative reading.