Book Reviews

Blue Machine  – a book review.

This amazing book of over 300 pages is at first sight daunting but in fact it is a collection of mini stories that entertain as you learn the secrets of the oceans. It’s easy reading but the content will resonate for any sailor with its wonderful insights throughout the book.

Throughout time, the vastness of the ocean has been a place of wonder and respect for sailors. Helen Czerski’s “Blue Machine” dives deep into these waters, charting a course through the mysteries that have shaped our world. From the deck of a sailing ship, the sea is a dynamic force that is ever changing, a living entity that breathes and moves, driven by the sun’s energy. But beneath its waves lies an intricate dance of temperature, salinity, and the very movements of the Earth itself. 

In the days of old, sailors looked to the stars for navigation. But, the ancient Polynesians, as Czerski reveals, understood the language of the waves and read the ocean’s stories. These vast waters house creatures like the age-old Greenland shark and provide for giant sea turtles and whales. But they also echo tales of lanternfish with their nightly dances and whisper legends of the worm with countless tails.

The ocean’s currents are like the winds that fill our sails, guiding and sometimes challenging our journeys. They’ve carried not just our ships but tales of trade from the Ming Dynasty, tales that remind us of our interconnectedness, like the Scottish herring lassies who followed the flow of their aquatic harvest.

As sailors, the ocean is our lifeblood. We’ve felt the gentle caress of its waves and faced its roaring tempests. It’s a world that demands our respect, for as much as it has given, it now faces threats, reminding us that there is no “away” on this vast expanse. Every piece of trash, every act of disrespect, returns to us in some form.

I’ve always believed the sea is the key to our climate. Czerski’s insights ring true to a sailor’s heart: the ocean doesn’t merely obey scientific laws; it resonates with values, values that we must uphold if we are to safeguard its majesty for generations to come. 

In our days of sail and rope, we may not have had diagrams or detailed maps to navigate these complex phenomena, but we had the stories, legends, and wisdom passed down from sailor to sailor. And while “Blue Machine” brings to life the science of the ocean, for me, it sings the age-old song of the sea, a song I’ve heard with every voyage, every whispering wave, every gust of wind.

In Czerski’s words, I found a deeper understanding of the ocean’s intricacies. It is an odyssey into the heart of the very waters we’ve sailed for centuries, a reminder of why we must continue to respect and protect the grand symphony of the sea.

I did feel it required a lot of diagrams and visual back ups to illustrate the book. The knowledge I had gained via lectures at sea and reading certainly helped but if you can find a copy of the ‘The Times Atlas of the Oceans’ it makes a great companion book.

order your copy from the World of Books: Blue Machine

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