Books about sailing and maritime adventures: our selection of the best books about the sea | PONANT Magazine

Get into the swing of things for your cruise

Heading out to sea is never a trivial thing. It is a leap into the unknown, as exciting as it is disorienting. Before you hop on board, dive into tales by the people who know these beautiful blue expanses best and have spent their lives near them.

The reference

World Cruising Routes | Jimmy Cornell

This vital reading material is deservedly known as “the bible of cruising sailors“. Following on from his five trips around the world, Jimmy Cornell outlines over 1,000 sailing routes across all the oceans of the world. He also provides a treasure trove of information such as wind and current maps and regional and seasonal weather forecasts, and he even specifies the best times for each journey. It is ideal bedside reading for travellers at heart and an unmissable read for those who want to plan their trip in ideal conditions.

The message in a bottle

Histoires de la mer (Stories of the sea)| Jacques Attali

France’s future is bound to the sea if it is to exist at all! In his book, Jacques Attali examines with a fine-tooth comb “a history of mankind as seen from the sea“, from the origin of the oceans “right up to the day after tomorrow”. Our nourishing seas have often been a defining force in everything which has happened in our history, as well as being the centres of all our discoveries and conquests and places full of riches and promise. Attali is convinced that the major challenges to come will still be at sea. In this book, it is therefore a matter of urgency that we stop mistreating our oceans and change course to put them at the centre of our concerns. Let’s take care of our seas if we do not want them to seriously lose their temper!

The wow effect!

Un Autre Monde (Another World) | Dos Winkel, Jean-Louis Étienne and Jean-Michel Cousteau

Immerse yourself in another world, an aquatic and organic space where everything is fluorescent and transparent. This is a world of silky textures, abstract shapes and lively colours. Dive in to discover the depths of the sea and its unexpected splendours in Dos Winkel’s exceptional photographs. A book which will make you see infinite beauty in the infinitely small, with a compassionate and educational preface by the explorer Jean-Louis Étienne and by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Captain Jacques Cousteau.

The personal take

Ocean’s Songs | Olivier de Kersauson

Since we are in the world, we have to roam it.” For the outstanding skipper Olivier de Kersauson, leaving this earth without having crossed every sea and docked at every port is out of the question. He sets off again and again, but never to flee, always to return and tell the tale. Kersauson does not hold back in his description and discovery of himself in Ocean’s Songs, an intimate portrait of a free man. An entire maritime geography unfolds with passion and poetry. His portraits of the ocean are drawn with love, because “without the sea, there is no beauty!“.

The classic

The Old Man and the Sea | Ernest Hemingway

And to round off, a classic not just of American literature, but literature itself. It is the story of good old Santiago, a fisherman of a certain age, and his epic fight with a magnificent, powerful marlin somewhere off the coast of Cuba. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a short but gripping confrontation between man and nature. An ode to courage, hope and human dignity. This poignant tale of an outing on the sea is as heroic as it is tragic. A masterpiece!

After a few hours of literary sailing, you will finally be ready to take the leap and set out to discover for yourself our seas and oceans, priceless sources of inspiration and wonderment.


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