Two irresistible coffee table books

Reviews by Bob Muggleston
For Points East

“Chris-Craft: An American Classic”
by Nick Voulgaris III; Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2018; 223 pp.

Chris-Craft is surely one of the most iconic boat brands in the world, and for good reason. Regardless of what kind of boating you do – be it on fresh water or salt, power or sail – chances are there’s a vessel with the Chris-Craft badge that’s captured your imagination. For devotees of the classic mahogany runabout there are likely more than one, as there were so many, and all of them dreamy, but Chris-Craft also made fiberglass cabin cruisers and head-turning sailboats designed by Sparkman & Stephens, as well as a variety of other types of boats. In “Chris-Craft: An American Classic,” by Nick Voulgaris III, the Chris-Craft story is told from its humble beginnings in Algonac, Michigan, where, in 1905, a young man named Chris Columbus Smith built a race boat capable of nearly 22 knots. The boat was a revelation, and by the early 1920s, after an amiable split with wealthy industrialist Garfield “Gar” Wood (yes, that Gar Wood), Smith and two of his sons established the Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company. In 1925 they began producing a model named “Chris-Craft” – and the rest is history. Chris-Craft is still alive and well today, but the road between then and now has been understandably rocky. Chock-a-block with beautiful photography and iconic boats, this is another potential resident of the coffee table that boaters will find irresistible.

“Catamarans: The Complete Guide for Cruising Sailors”
(Revised Edition) by Gregor Tarjan; McGraw-Hill 2017, 278 pp.

As a kid, I learned to sail on a Bluejay. While it was an amazing platform to learn all the basics, the performance of the venerable dinghy rarely engendered a sense of excitement, unless you had a spinnaker up in too much wind, or, as a buddy of mine and I once tried, you were flying two spinnakers (an abject failure, speed-wise; never do that).

Then, in the early ’80s, a friend’s family bought a Prindle 16 – a wannabe contender for the Hobie 16 crown – and zowie! were the possibilities of a vessel under sail transformed. With a capful of wind it felt as much like flying as it did sailing, water sizzling beneath the bows, and the rig humming ominously. I was hooked.

Surely, somewhere in his own life, Gregor Tarjan had a similar revelation: That is, he became fascinated with the possibilities of the catamaran. Tarjan both designs and sells cruising cats (he’s the founder and president of Aeroyacht Ltd. in Setauket Harbor, N.Y.) and he’s one of the classes’ most enthusiastic cheerleaders. In this capacity his 2017 book, “Catamarans: The Complete Guide for Cruising Sailors” is an exhaustive look at all-things-cruising-cat – their advantages over monohulls, what to look for when buying one, their various designs, construction and rigs, and how to prepare them for bluewater passages. In this revised edition (it first appeared in 2006), Tarjan also reviews 32 new cruising cats. Diagrams by the author, and beautiful photography by Billy Black and Gilles Martin-Raget, ensure that this hardcover book, on any sailor’s coffee table, won’t gather dust.

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