Since good English language books are hard to find outside of English speaking countries, and you can’t read anyway when you are on watch, download and listen to an audio book from Audible.com.
We on Don Quixote have heard too many horror stories of nit wits who set a course on the autopilot, walking away to read, watch a movie, have sex, or take a nap. So we are very careful. Someone is always sitting the helm watching the instruments and the horizon no matter how benign the conditions. If the seas are fairly large or it is the middle of the night, the primary helm is either DrC or myself. However, if the seas are relatively light, there is no significant traffic, or we’re doing rotating night watches, we’ll put one of the girls on the helm. All three can man the helm for at least a half an hour, and Jaime is capable of a full three hour watch. Even a half hour in the middle of the night can do wonders to rest your crew.
However, I have two problems as a sailor on the helm: I get bored easily, and I have a short attention span and get bored easily. No seriously. It’s horrible. I absolutely can not sit still on the helm, particularly on those fortunate days when Mr. Auto Pilot is ably running the show. My solution is podcasts and audio books.
Now if you listen to podcasts already, the rest of this blog is redundant. Audible.com is not only the leading provider of spoken word entertainment, but it is the single largest sponsor of podcasts on the Internet. Audible sponsors pretty much all my favorite podcasters including TWiT, Slate, and the Science Channel.
We download so many hours of free podcasts, it’s a wonder we have time to listen to yet more content. But if even the incredible wealth of free material is insufficient... for example if you are sailing to the South Pacific... then I recommend that you join Audible.com and start downloading books. They are not cheap. I don’t care how many times I hear about how you can get a free book or that it only costs $14.99 per month, that still seems expensive to me. A fifteen dollar book is expensive. On the other hand, an audio book can mean 15 to 30 hours of entertainment which when contrasted with a movie is not a bad price at all. This is also a great way to get best sellers which are otherwise completely inaccessible to a cruiser traveling in distant ports.
To sign up for an Audible account, browse to http://www.audible.com. You can get a code for a free month on sponsored podcasts such as the ones I mentioned above as well as many others. Just check their feeds.
As the sponsored ‘casters so often do when talking about Audible, I shall also include in my endorsement of Audible.com a recommendation of an Audible book. I am currently listening to David Sedaris read his own collection of essays Me Talk Pretty One Day. There is no question this book is better read by the author. Other books which sound better delivered by the author include Steve Martin’s autobiography Born Standing Up, Jon Stewart’s America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, and John Hodgeman’s great sequel More Information Than You Require.