'Date, time, wind, waves, pressure, temperature, and cloud cover. Like pilots, roofers and mountain climbers, mariners are obsessed with the weather, immersed in it as part of their daily calculus . . . Make good decisions, mariners are fond of saying. If there were a corollary to this, it might offer: When the weather gods show you their cards, don't miss them'
Weather can be the difference between life and death for a sailor, something Captain Elliot Rappaport knows very well, having spent almost his whole adult life at sea.
A professional ship's captain, with over thirty years of experience sailing traditional vessels, 'tall ships', Captain Rappaport has travelled around 100,000 sea miles, in all four hemispheres, and spent a great many hours watching the weather unfold.
In Reading the Glass he shares all he has learned about the weather at sea, gives us an inside look at the world of seafaring, a vocation much more than a job, and shares some hard-won mariner's wisdom: if you are headed for Greenland in July, expect at least one storm, and wait until after Christmas to sail to New Zealand's South Island; pack $3000-worth of fruit and veg for a two-month journey at sea; and the most valuable member of the crew is first of all the engineer, and secondly the cook!
Reading the Glass is a gorgeous blend of drily funny stories of life on a ship, the history of seafaring, stories of explorers, discoveries, epic storms, and the science of weather.
Captain Elliot Rappaport has sailed as a captain in the United States maritime industry since 1992, involved primarily in the training of other mariners aboard an assortment of traditional sailing ships. He is currently a faculty member at Maine Maritime Academy (MMA). Reading the Glass is his first book.
"Each chapter is brimming with knowledge and experience. Rappaport can really write – and he's done his research too [...] Some of the most delightful passages have little to do with the sea or weather. They come when we get a real sense of what it's like to lead a crew at sea, and, equally interestingly, when moored up [...] Reading the Glass will be a must-have for serious weather-watchers or sailors with aspirations."
– Tristan Gooley, Daily Telegraph
"Evokes panoramas of sea and land with confident flair"
– Wall Street Journal
"Relatable, reflective, and humorous [...] descriptive and insightful, it is perfect for those who love the sea, and wish to know more about the adventures of those who sail upon it [...] a genuinely immersive read"
"Reading the Glass is an extraordinary book by a modern-day Melville whose deep knowledge, boundless curiosity and endearingly wry humour make him the perfect guide to the world beyond our shores. Elliot Rappaport has completely transformed my awareness of the vast reaches of water that dominate our planet's surface, and of the debt we all owe to our ancestors who made a science and an art out of crossing them. I can't recommend this book highly enough"
– Mark Vanhoenacker, author of Skyfaring
"We live on a planet – easy to forget in your secure suburban home, but not out on the open sea. The author provides a gripping account of what weather is, how it feels to be in the middle of it, and what we can expect going forward!"
– Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon
"Part Bill Nye, part Captain Cook, Elliot Rappaport leads an around-the-world adventure filled with eye-popping insights from the deepest depths to the high atmosphere. For those of us too chicken to cross thousands of miles on ships, Rappaport's action-packed logbook is full of history, wisdom, and hilarious stories from life on the open seas"
– Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer
"Veteran captain Elliot Rappaport knows firsthand how winds, storms, and currents affect boats, from the smallest dinghies to great ocean liners. Here, he uses his considerable literary gifts to turn meteorology into a living science [...] While sailors will relate at once to Rappaport's prose, this book is a must-read even for landlubbers"
– Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
"Rappaport, who has been a sea captain since 1992 and teaches at the Maine Maritime Academy, makes his book debut with vibrant accounts of sailing around the world. Central to his spirited, informative narrative is weather [...] Fascinating journeys with an expert guide"
"I loved this book. What a fabulous compendium it is of terror and disaster, expertise and courage, by a man who knows with true intimacy what he calls "the vast planetary engine" of the weather. Chapter after chapter is filled with a vivid sense of being out at sea in storm and calm and every page has his decades of lived life embedded in it, years and years of looking, responding, making the good and necessary decisions. It feels written, in other words, by a man you would be more than happy to go to sea with."
– Adam Nicolson, author of Life Between the Tides: In Search of Rockpools and Other Adventures Along the Shore