Matt and Britney Weidert

Matt Weidert

Summer reads: nautical adventures & high-seas thrills

Summer is well underway, with kids wrapping up school for the season, and with that, summer vacations begin. To help build your summer reading list for those relaxing moments on the beach, I’d like to share some books I highly recommend that I’ve read in the past year—sailing and adventure related, of course!

Aubrey-Maturin Series

The inspiration for Russell Crowe’s "Master and Commander" (based on elements from the first and tenth books of the series), I recently completed my second circumnavigation of the Aburey-Maturin series, and it was even better than the first. I consider this one of the best literary series of the century.
From the cover of the Far Side of the World, the 10th book of the series

Why I love the Aubrey-Maturin series

The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian is a masterful blend of rich character development, thrilling plots, and meticulous historical detail. The deep and complex friendship between Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin is at the heart of the series, set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. O'Brian's elegant prose, detailed depiction of life at sea, and blend of humor and unexpected turns keep me hooked.

It's a timeless saga of friendship, loyalty, and high-seas adventure that has captivated readers for generations. Without a doubt, I will someday read it for a third time.
The Wide Wide Sea by Hampton Sides

The Wide Wide Sea

I’ve read a few other books by Hampton Sides, such as "On Desperate Ground" and "Ghost Soldiers"—both great reads. So I was excited when "The Wide Wide Sea" was released just last month.

Why you should check out The Wide Wide Sea

"The Wide Wide Sea" is a thrilling and superbly crafted account of Captain James Cook’s most momentous voyage, culminating in his death in Hawaii. Sides recounts Cook’s last journey, wrestling with his legacy while providing a gripping narrative of the dangers of 18th-century exploration.

Cook's renowned seamanship and humane leadership contrast with the darker aspects of his third and final voyage, where imperial ambitions led to fatal conflicts. This book is a fast-paced story of high-seas adventure and an interesting look at the Age of Exploration's complexities and consequences.
The Wager by David Grann

The Wager

From the author of "Killers of the Flower Moon," "The Wager" is a 2023 release that dives into another naval story of adventure and drama on the high seas.

Why you might like The Wager

David Grann masterfully recounts the harrowing tale of the HMS Wager and its crew. This gripping saga of survival, mutiny, and exploration is set against the backdrop of 18th-century naval warfare. "The Wager" combines exhaustive research with riveting storytelling, making it a compelling read for anyone interested in maritime history and epic adventures.

On my summer reading list

I haven’t read these titles yet, but they are on my wish list for summer reading:

Longitude by Dava Sobel

Summary: "Longitude" tells the fascinating story of John Harrison, a self-taught clockmaker who solved the 18th-century problem of determining a ship’s precise longitude at sea with his innovative marine chronometer. This breakthrough revolutionized navigation and had a profound impact on maritime exploration.

Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton

Summary: "Nathaniel’s Nutmeg" recounts the epic tale of the 17th-century spice trade, focusing on the battle between the English and the Dutch for control of the tiny Banda Island, the world's sole source of nutmeg at the time. This gripping narrative highlights the lengths nations would go for this valuable spice.

Here are a couple of reader recommendations to add to your list:

  • "Island of the Blue Foxes", by Stephen Brown: "Amazing book on the exploratory sailing done for Russia by Vitus Bering. Great book similar in character and intensity to Wager and Wide Wide Sea.Perhaps very interesting to sailors with examples of lack of preparation, false assumptions about location, laziness/tiredness in the face of opportunity…"
  • "The Captain from Connecticut", by C. S. Forrester: "No Hornblower but a fascinating story. Experiences I don't ever want to say I've been there and done that."
If you’ve read anything I should add to my list, let me know! That’s it for today. Wishing you good times with family and friends this summer.

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