Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Kon-Tiki Lands: Books about Sailing

On this day in 1947 the Kon-Tiki, a wooden raft that set sail from Peru, landed on an island near Tahiti. To mark the occasion, we're looking at books that take place at sea.


Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. Heyerdahl had a theory that Polynesia was originally settled by settlers from South America, and not Asia as commonly believed. To prove his theory was plausible he built a raft using period materials and techniques and set sail from Peru. This is his record of his journey.

Girl Overboard by Aimee Ferris. In this installment of the Students Across the Seven Seas series, Marina is doing a Semester at Sea, learning about marine life and the cultures of the different islands and countries they visit.

The Raft by S. A. Bodeen. A small cargo plane with two pilots and 1 passenger hits a storm between Hawaii and Midway. Robie (the passenger) and Max (the co-pilot) survive, stuck on a raft in the middle of the Pacific ocean with no supplies and no way to call for help.


Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Pi and his family are moving from India to North America when the ship they are on sinks. Pi is stuck with a tiger on a raft in the ocean, trying to survive. Written for adults, teens really like this one.

Maiden Voyage by Tabia Aebi with Bernadette Brennan. At the age of 18, Tabia became the youngest woman to sail solo around the world. This is the chronicle of her journey, a favorite of mine as a teen as Tabia discovers the world and herself. (Younger women have since done this, but it's a record that's no longer officially recognized, to stop too young kids from trying.)

Shipwreck by Gordon Korman. Six teens set out on sea voyage, as part of a program called Charting a New Course. Of course, it's a disciplinary program and none of them actually want to be there. It gets worse when the ship goes down in a storm and the kids are abandoned by the adults who are supposed to be looking out for them. The first in Island trilogy, follow it with Survival.


Seize the Storm by Michael Cadnum. Susannah and her family are sailing from California to Hawaii when they come across a speedboat filled with dead bodies, drugs, and money. What to do with the money causes dissent among everyone on the boat, tension that only mounts when the bad guys who were after the speedboat change course for Susannah's.

The Great Wide Sea by M. H. Herlong. After his mother dies, Ben's father can't cope. He sells their house and buys a boat, uprooting Ben and his brothers to take them sailing for a year. The tension and grief is high, but it all changes on the day when Ben wakes up, there's a storm coming, and his father has completely disappeared.

What books do you recommend about life on the open water?

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