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Book Review – The Nature of Boats – Dave Gerr

Subtitled “Insights and Esoterica for the Nautically Obsessed”.

Well the subtitle describes it all, though the word “Essentialia” could well have been included. In this encyclopaedic book Dave Gerr has set out to inform us of just about everything we should basically know about the structure and usage of our boats, possibly with a primary aim for those contemplating a new boat or improvements to an existing one. Not trying to make naval architects and engineers of the reader, but to arm him or her with enough essential knowledge and formulas to be able to make calculated assessments of all sorts of essential aspects about a vessel. All in a chatty, non-eggheaded non-academic style that makes for a thoroughly easily read and understood book.

How many people will it hold ? How many horsepower does a sail generate ?

How thick should the hull be ? How do you work out displacement? or hull area?

or propellor pitch? or where the centre of effort should be?

or how big a rudder you’ll need?

In an unusual style, Gerr opens the book with discussions of twelve entirely different boats varying from Dutch Botters to an 8 ft kids’ paddle boat. Not for any practical reason, just to get the reader in the groove. He then gets into the real stuff, starting with boat size, shape and style, then goes into details on engines, electricity, sailing theory, construction, ergonomics, and ending with steering. There’s plenty of simple formulas for working out answers to all those questions that are important to getting the best out of our craft. WBA members will especially relate to chapter 47: “Believe it or not, Wood is Best”.

This is an ideal bedside reading book, and having read it from cover to cover, you’ll need to keep on opening it again and again to get some detail about your boat, or your next one, or just for dreaming.

Highly recommended.

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