Sailing - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

"For at the end of the day, he's learned through experience that the essence of crafting an unforgettable picture is both incredibly complex and remarkably simple: being at the right place at the right time." - Herb McCormick describing Onne van der Wal in the new book Sailing

Note: See the bottom of this blog post for a chance to win a new copy of the book Sailing.

My blogging here at is all about trying to capture with words what I've learned (and am learning) about sailing. Sometimes writing is simple and other times complex. So I can relate to the quote above.

Page 36: A detail of the wheel of the Tall Ship Massachuesetts is a study in tarnished bronze.
Page 37: Riding to leeward aboard Whitehawk, a 105-foot replica of Herreshoff's famous Ticonderoga racing yacht.

For Onne van der Wal, the combination of sailing and photography has been magical. During a long ocean race, Onne was prompted to peek through his bunkmate's SLR camera for a look at their surroundings. As Herb McCormick writes in Sailing's introduction; "Onne peered through the viewfinder, and time stopped. Never before had he seen his surroundings with such clarity. Better still, with this simple, visual tool came the power of definition, the ability to transform what he saw into a new sense of order. His order. His vision."

Onne van der Wal's new book, Sailing, isn't a novel nor does it use any words to tell a story or relate the emotions of sailing. Instead, this book gives us a unique and beautiful pictorial tour of the world's great sailing locations. Things are kicked off with McCormick's excellent introduction. Then you're off on a sailing journey aboard some true classics like the gaff yawl Veronique,  speedy IOR 50-footers in Key West, and comfy cruising cats in French Polynesia. I spent over an hour on just two mind filled with the sound of rushing waves somewhere in the Beagle Channel near Argentina.

Chapters include:
  • The England Coast
  • Northern Europe
  • The Mediterranean
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • The South Pacific
  • The Pacific Coast
  • The Southeastern Coast
  • The Caribbean
  • Chile, South Georgia, and the Antarctic
  • South Africa
The pictures are stunning and large. This is rightly so, given the book's 14.25" by 11.5" dimensions. There's also a good diversity of cruising photos, racing photos and vintage yachts. Perspectives vary with many shots taken from on deck, but there are aerial photos and profile views that keep things interesting. There's something here for everyone who finds enjoyment from the curves of a hull to the outline of billowed sails against the horizon. If you like my "Picture This" blog series, chances are you'll like this book. 

Want your own copy of Onne van der Wal's newly published Sailing? Get it here:

Want a free copy?  Send me an email or leave a comment below that describes what the essence of sailing means to you. Or maybe you'd rather let a picture speak on your behalf, so I'll also accept a picture taken by you that represents the essence of sailing. I'll choose a winner on February 16, 2014 and mail out a brand new copy of Sailing.


  1. Thanks for posting the comments about my book Sailing! Its great to be on your blog.
    Best! Onne van der Wal

    1. No problem, Onne! I've enjoyed the book and hope to share it with someone else.

  2. hi! Thanks for this great review of Onne's book. I wanted to mention that Onne's Newport, RI Gallery sells prints from this book and also SIGNED COPIES of Sailing. Onne will even include a personalized note for you.


  3. This is my kind of book! ;) For me, the essence of sailing is freedom. Plain and simple. And it doesn't really need much more explaining than that. -Kim, s/v LAHO "Let the sea set you free."


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