New cruising guides published by voyaging veterans

Tom and Nancy Zydler have voyaged the world on their engineless yawl Mollymawk since 1975 - reaching Greenland, the Faeroes, Galapagos, Caribbean, and the North and South Atlantic. And they stopped in to see the editorial team of Ocean Navigator in Portland, Maine, when the wind failed them on their journey south for the winter.

The couple are accomplished writers and artists, Tom with his camera and Nancy with her easel. Their adventures often result in articles and cruising guides, most recently a guide to the Georgia coast (Nancy’s home waters) and the Panama Canal.

The Georgia Coast, Waterways and Islands, covers 1,500 miles of coastline - estuaries, harbors, bays, coves and wilderness areas. While the Georgia coast is often more closely associated with golf courses and exclusive retirement communities, the Zydlers are here to tell you differently. “Most times we found ourselves completely alone,” they reported. “The Georgia coast is full of wilderness.”

The guide covers 1,500 miles of coastline, including all the usual listings of services for boat traffic. Most interesting is the human and natural history descriptions, though, since the Zydlers’ curiosity in people, their culture and habitat comes through. The book begins with a fine chapter on the state’s coastal natural history, including Nancy’s drawings and Tom’s photos of unusual flora and fauna and description of the natural processes that have shaped the coastline. In the place descriptions we are given cultural history like the sordid history of Cumberland Island, a place that continues to host conflict between moneyed blue bloods and the complex needs of a sensitive environment.The Panama Guide, A Cruising Guide to the Isthmus of Panama, recently released in its second edition.

If the guides have a fault, and this can hardly be considered a fault in the traditional sense, it is that they lack personality. Here we have a couple who has cruised much of the world on a boat without an engine, exploring, writing, presumably having a wonderful time. But they report the facts alone. There is not even an “about the authors” section in the books. A book of personal observation and narrative from this extraordinary pair would be most welcome.

Both guides are published by Seaworthy in Port Washington, Wis.

By Ocean Navigator