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Sunken Treasures: Books About Survival At Sea

"Three Books ..." is a series in which we invite writers to recommend three great reads on a single theme.

Once — just once — I persuaded my wife to go sailing with me. We were in northern Poland and, for just $8, I rented a gorgeous wooden sailboat. It looked as if it had been preserved for decades in a giant glass bottle.

"Can you sail it?" inquired my wife.

"Dude," I told her. "No problem."

This, of course, was a lie. We were barely 50 feet from shore when a howling headwind blew us back against the rocks. We survived — narrowly. Afterward my wife quipped that it was almost as if I had wanted to shipwreck us. She may have been right.

Ever since I was a kid I've longed to be a castaway. I memorized facts about the Bermuda Triangle, learned to distinguish between flotsam and jetsam, and watched Gilligan's Island with cultlike devotion.

My parents were landlubbers — their notion of nautical adventure was ordering shrimp scampi at Red Lobster — and so I sailed the high seas in books. Here are my three favorites.

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Jake Halpern