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A Voyage North on Morgan's Cloud

John Harries and Phyllis Nickel
Attainable Adventure Cruising Ltd 2012

John Harries and Phyllis Nickel have spent twenty years cruising the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and in doing so have made themselves the premier source for information on this demanding and rewarding form of sailing. Their website, www.morganscloud.com, is one of the finest and most complete reference sites that I have found. There are copious articles on every facet of cruising, with thoughtful and enlightening comments from a small but dedicated coterie of readers. This site can be bookmarked and returned to over and over, and merits the attention of the sailing fraternity.

I first found Harries and Nickel's work in the August 2003 issue of Sail Magazine, in an article, "Hiking to Blubber Town", about their partial circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, an island north of Norway. I liked their writing style and photography then, and still do today. So I was delighted to find that they have recently published an ebook, in pdf format, on their latest high latitude adventure, a cruise far up the west coast of Greenland, in conjunction with scientific work performed by their friend and fellow sailor Grete. Their boat Morgan's Cloud, a 56 foot McCurdy & Rhodes aluminum cutter, took them in comfort and safety from their starting point in Nova Scotia, up the coast of Newfoundland, through the Straits of Belle Isle, across the Sea of Labrador and far up Baffin Bay. Grete did good work researching the effects of climate change on the people of the far north, while Harries and Nickel enjoyed the splendid hospitality of the region and took some remarkable photographs.

This professionally produced book of 104 pages has scant but interesting text. The photographs are what make the book. Harries takes exceptionally good ones, and of course the scenery is staggeringly beautiful. The luminescent glow of the light reflecting off ice and water shows up to good effect on the computer monitor. In fact, everything about this book demonstrates how ebooks have overtaken if not surpassed the printed ones. The double page layout makes optimum use of the wide screen on most current monitors. The high resolution pages load quickly and render sharply on any modern machine, and the 47 mb file size, which a few years ago would have been considered substantial, is not a drop in the bucket of a typical terabyte hard drive. And of top of it all, digital delivery makes it possible for the authors to sell this drm-free ebook for $9.99 and still (hopefully) make a profit. In order to do the same with a paperbound edition, they have to charge $57.00.

So download a copy and tuck it away somewhere on your computer to look at now and then. It may convince you not to stop when you return from the islands this spring. You may keep going north.