Over the summer I read a couple of sailing-related novels Sail by James Patterson (& Howard Roughan) and Whiskey Gulf by Clyde Ford. I am an avid reader of books on sailing with bookshelf chock full of the damned things (and the spines are broken on all of them in case you are wondering if I have read any of them).
Other than the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin series they are all factual accounts of sailing adventures, life under sail, sailing disasters or how-to books. The quality of writing is pretty variable from the great yarns but dodgy writing of the late great Tristran Jones to the fine factual storytelling of John Rousmaniere.
I picked up a paperback of Sail at an airport and it was a great way of getting through an endless delay, followed by a bumpy flight. I finished it in two sittings and as I am a slow reader in general, I must have found it compelling. It's written like a fast-paced action movie. Light on character development, narrative but heavy of explosions. On balance it was a bit like eating a Big Mac. You can't resist it. It's delicious when you eat it but it's not good for you. Frankly it's been a month or so since I read it and I can't remember the story coherently.
Part of Sail takes place on a Morris yacht and features a voyage from Newport to the Caribbean. The bits about sailing weren't wrong just annoyingly shallow and incidental. It will not be joining the rest of my sailing book collection.
Whiskey Gulf was sent to me the publisher, I suspect in the hopes that I would give it a plug. I am hereby giving it a plug so thanks for sending me the book.
Whiskey Gulf started in promising fashion. It's set in the Pacific Northwest. The hero, Charlie Noble, is a former Coast Guard Intelligence agent with an exciting past. He lives on pretty cool sailboat and seems to have a pretty sweet laid-back life. Charlie is summoned into action by a local sailing club when a couple of members go missing on a cruise near the Canadian border.
The couple had been sailing in an area where the US and Canadian navies were testing torpedoes and it was believed their boat may have been struck by one. What then unfolds is a complex story of international incidents, terrorism, counter-terrorism and skunkworks featuring a conflicted love story and a mystical native American former navy seal.
The boating and sailing bits are very good. Clyde Ford knows his stuff and did his research. He weaved in quite technical nautical bits that give the tale a lot more credibility IMHO than Sail. Frankly, that's the part of Whiskey Gulf I liked the best.
Other than that, it gets a passing grade. The story is far-fetched and tortuous and it drags on a bit. Candidly by the time I got to the end I had sort of lost interest.
It will join my sailing book collection but with a guarded approval rating.
I am still struggling to find some really good sailing fiction (other than Patrick O'Brian). Right now I still find factual accounts more enjoyable than fiction.