Brush up on your nautical know-how from waves to fisheries

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 Extreme Waves, Craig Smith, published by Joseph Henry Press, £16.99, 279 pages, hardback.

Waves – beautiful and hypnotic, fun or frightening? Whatever your opinion of them, this new book takes a scientific look at how the biggest of these blue beasts can be understood and predicted. If you’ve ever scanned a storm-tossed sea and wondered where they were coming from, or watched a devastating post-tsunami scene and wondered how it could have been prevented, this book should quench your curiosity.

The Unnatural History of the Sea, Callum Roberts, published by Gaia, £7.99 431 pages, paperback

The freefall of global fisheries over the last few decades has led to a crisis in over-fishing. Will global fish stocks collapse in the next half century, leaving cod and chips permanently off the menu for our grandchildren, asks marine conservationist Roberts in this scientific exploration. The book seeks to show how we have arrived at such a low point in our relationship with ocean life, and what we must do to recover the bounty that’s almost lost.

Eyewitness Companion to Sailing, foreword by Ellen MacArthur, published by Dorling Kindersley, £14.99. 344 pages, paperback.

A compact and wide-ranging beginner’s guide that’s sure to inspire rather than overwhelm the budding sailor. Sectioned into 10 colour coded topics, ranging from a basic history of sailing to practical sections on navigation, safety and weather for novices. Crammed with brilliant pictures, quotes and step by step diagrams to guide the reader through each topic.

Beyond Endurance, Adam Mayers, published by McClelland & Stewart, £15, 244 pages, hardback

303 boats, 600 miles and a violent storm were a catastrophic combination for the 1979 Fastnet Race, in which 15 sailors lost their lives. But you probably know that already. The disaster received a huge amount of media scrutiny and spawned shelves of books; Mayers’ story risks sounding tired by re-examining an event that has been written about time and time again, and it is desperately lacking quality photos or personal experience in the race that might bring the story to life. A reasonable read for non-sailors and yachties who aren’t familiar with the tragedy.

The Voyager’s Handbook, (Second Edition) Beth Leonard, published by Adlard Coles Nautical, £30, 592 pages, hardback

A hefty coffee table tome, this manual is a serious winter reference book for home waters cruisers with the urge to travel further offshore. Beth Leonard shares lessons learned from over 90,000 miles of sailing with her partner Evans Stazinger to help you manage life afloat abroad. Well-structured, with 27 chapters split across 5 sections and plenty of solid technical information with diagrams and the odd black-and-white photo to illustrate, but would benefit from some colour shots to brighten up the huge chunks of text on its pages.