I've recently read two sailing books: Fastnet, Force 10 and Love with a Chance of Drowning.
Both made extremely clear the ruthlessness of the ocean.
The Fastnet race in 1979 killed 18 people, as a result of a "perfect storm" hitting the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the UK and Ireland while the race from Cowes to Fastnet Rock was happening. The writing style reminded me a bit of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, and was utterly terrifying. The combination of relatively small ships, far out to sea, and a confused sea with spectacular waves resulted in massive boat damage and loss of life. The storm happened before I was born, but John remembers being in a harbour in France on a sailing trip with his parents, and watching boats break loose in the harbour as the waves crashed over the harbour walls.
Anyway, give it a read, preferably NOT before setting out on a sailing trip.
If you DO want a book that will make you want to go to sea, I really liked Love with a Chance of Drowning, a memoir about following a boy and a boat and sailing across the Pacific ocean.
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