What John Wycliffe did to the Bible in the 14th century, translating it from Latin to English, Hubbard has done to the American Practical Navigator, the seaman’s bible, by bringing it down to a level most people can understand. Sensing that ordinary sailors could benefit from the material in the original Bowditch, Hubbard, who was one of the editors of the 1995 reprint of the 800-page volume, rewrote the book to be more readable for less experienced sailors.
"While editing Bowditch, I became convinced of two things. First, the book was too valuable a work to be reserved only for the professional navigator. Second, with my background in small-boat navigation and writing, I could simplify it for the average boater," Hubbard wrote in the new book’s preface.
The result, compared with the original Bowditch, is still thorough but less daunting. It is also about half the original’s length and contains clearer explanations of basic nautical concepts, including fine sections on marine weather and celestial navigation.
International Marine, Camden, Maine, 207-236-4827; 400 pgs.