Check it out: Set sail with fun, fulfilling projects




"Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings: How to Build and Use 18 Traditional Navigational Tools" By Dennis Fisher; International Marine, 166 pages

“Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings: How to Build and Use 18 Traditional Navigational Tools” By Dennis Fisher; International Marine, 166 pages

You may remember from some of my previous columns that I am a true desert girl, born and raised in the Southwest. My experiences with water have been limited to swimming pools, two houseboat trips on Lake Mead in southern Nevada, and an unfortunate snorkeling incident in Honduras. In other words, my feet are happiest on dry land. That’s why this next statement causes me a wee bit of trepidation whenever I say it: my husband and I just bought a boat.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a very exciting moment for both of us. It’s just that the boat (and my husband), are seaworthy, and I am not. Good thing the library has my back because I have a lot to learn. I’m already becoming familiar with the call-number area 623.8 for books about boat safety, boat travel, boat maintenance, and this week’s gem “Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings.”

If you like working with your hands, and you have an interest in anything nautical, this just might be the perfect book for you. In his introduction, the author says that the 18 projects fall into three categories: “decorative, useful, and somewhere in between.” From well-known objects like the sundial to more obscure instruments such as the kamal (an ancient Arabic navigational tool made of wood and string), you’ll learn how to craft special items for your favorite vessel. Impress your friends (and yourself) by making a pelorus, a tool that measures the relative bearings of objects; or a chip log, a simple device designed to measure speed.

Whether you’re a sea dog or a greenhorn, this unique book should appeal to any mariner with an aptitude for do-it-yourself projects. As a nautical newbie, I’ll have to work my way up to latitude hooks and astrolabes. Behaving like a land-barnacle (feet and hands firmly planted on the dock) will have to be corrected first, if I ever hope to be a proper first mate.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at