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Savvy Summer Reading for Mexico Boaters

Recreational boaters in Mexico (yatistas) are right now preparing for whatever Summer 2024 brings us. Whether we’re planning to bash back north (next issue) or spend the summer somewhere safe down here, one of the more pleasant tasks is to load up our book shelves (or e-readers) with sufficient binge-worthy stuff to read.

After I’ve spent too many hours of my night watch staring at the radar screen, making tiny incremental course adjustments, listening to VHF squawks, there’s nothing that quite so well relieves the eye strain as nicely as plugging into an audio book. I can let the wonderful voice of a professional reader calmly animate the storyline and pour it directly into my earbuds and grey matter.

After stowing miles of lines and tons of fenders, after making a sail change and then switching it to a different sail, getting them all set up and pulling nicely, preparing and setting out lunch for a bunch of hungry mariners, then cleaning it all up again – after all that normal stuff I just love to bury myself away in my bunk and return to some story full of handsome heroes, dastardly villains and natural disasters narrowly averted. Such “get away” books can immerse me for an hour or two in a world that’s simply elsewhere.

However, I usually avoid picking titles from whatever the mass-market publishing world promotes as “summer reading.” My main gripe with typical summer reading is, authors who write boating stories but, within the first few pages, you know they have zero actual boating experience – and no technical editor.

They’d write, “The captain navigated on the map with his tweezers and plots.” Aak! “He went downstairs to the kitchen and closed the window.” Aak! “She hoisted the bollins.”


Thanks heavens some experienced boaters do write some excellent stories – both fiction and nonfiction – but you have to search them out. So here are my suggestions for summer reading that is written by two real boaters, as salty and sassy as they come.


Honeymoon at Sea” by Jennifer Silva Redmond is the salty half of my suggestions. In her newly released memoir, Jen unabashedly shares with us some of her more memorable challenges morphing herself from flat-footed land lubber into salty young veteran Sea of Cortez cruising sailboater – from her hilarious flops to a few heart-stopping challenges.

Jen from New York City fell in love with and then married a pretty cool California guy who just happened to own a sailboat. So sure, she thinks, why not hop aboard in San Diego and spend my honeymoon learning the cruising life while sailing “Wildfire” down Baja. What could go wrong.

From page 26: “When I realized the plan would mean an overnight voyage, I was only briefly daunted. I have to take a solo watch eventually, I reasoned. It might as well be now.”

Who doesn’t remember their very first (slightly terrifying) solo overnight watch underway at sea far from land? I sure do. Jen needed the next three pages to describe it. She was so terrified that she had to keep reminding herself to breath. Yup, been there. Then she noticed Baja’s stark darkness. The soft hiss of the ocean’s glassy black surface. Jupiter rising. Then the infinite blanket of stars sparkling overhead in age old patterns.

Jen’s honest writing allowed me to share all her fears and triumphs that first night. The same with her first landfall, which happened to be the San Benitos Islands, one of my favorite places. From there on I was hooked. I hope you will be too.

Jennifer Silva Redmond and her husband still live aboard their sailboat, their third and largest at 36’ and usually in San Diego. Jen has worked as an acquisitions editor at Sunbelt Publishing in Southern California, and when not sailing and writing, she teaches writing at San Diego Writer’s Ink in Liberty Station. Her book is available from Amazon and Re Books in Toronto


“Just Add Water” by Jinx Schwartz is just the first in this author’s USA Today award-winning 10-book series of nautical adventure mysteries, set largely up and down Baja and around the Sea of Cortez. If you love to binge read like I do, this set of 10 paperbacks (and Kindle e-books) are ideal for your boat’s summer book shelf. Also known as the Hetta Coffey series, they’re named for the primary heroine, Hetta Coffey.

“She’s a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it,” says her heroine’s character blurb. (I’ll let you in on a little secret: Hetta Coffey’s uproarious personality is suspiciously similar to the author’s.) Like Jinx herself, Hetta also rescues stray dogs in Baja and uses a beat up panga as her incognito dinghy. Educated as an oil-field engineer, Hetta’s adventures swirl among oceanographic researchers, DEA agents, brothel owners, ex Navy fighter pilots and duplicitous politicos, just to name a few.

I first encountered Jinx and her husband Mad Dog (retired Navy) in Puerto Escondido in the early 1980s, I think. They were living aboard their 56’ powerboat called “High Jinx.” They and a dozen other cruising boats had just survived a category 3 hurricane that devastated Puerto Escondido (before there was a marina), Loreto and Mulege.

While waves were still crashing inside the harbor, Jinx and Mad Dog had courageously used their home, “High Jinx,” to pull a dismasted sailboat off the rocks, just as it was about to get seriously holed. Wild as Jinx’s storylines are, they show a deep understanding of the joys and vulnerabilities of sailing your home.

Next I ran into “High Jinx” at Punta Chivato, where Jinx and Mad Dog were having lunch at the Chivato Hotel with some retired Navy pilot friends of theirs. John and I were there taking soundings for “Mexico Boating Guide.” Several retired Navy pilots have vacation homes at Punta Chivato, and not surprisingly, a few such aeronautical sorts turn up in Jinx’s zany novels as either sinister characters or rescue heroes.

Jinx and I palled around a bit when I still had my sailboat in the Sea of Cortez, and like her pilot friends, I think I make a ghost appearance in one of her adventure novels. They’re all hilariously mad-cap and as enticing as a sugar-coated spider web, my little fly.

Books # 1 through 5 are titled “Just Add Water,” “Just Add Salt,” Just Add Trouble,” “Just Deserts,” and “Just the Pits.” Books # 6 through 10 are titled “Just Needs Killing,” “Just Different Devils,” “Just Pardon My French,” “Just Follow the Money,” and “Just for the Birds.” If that’s just not enough to get you through the summer doldrums, check out her additional novels about some unnamed Caribbean islands.

Jinx Schwartz’s USA Today award-winning Baja novels are available on Amazon and her own website

Do you suppose these authors know the pointy end from the blunt end? Yup.

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2 thoughts on “Savvy Summer Reading for Mexico Boaters

  • I love Jinx’s books! I can enjoy high seas adventure without getting seasick and sunburned! I won’t let myself read all the books back to back, I savor them like fine chocolates. One of the things I appreciate about her books is they are educational, I always learn something new about serious issues. The laugh-out-loud situations Hetta Coffey and Jan get into keep the story from becoming too serious. Hetta and Jan feel like old friends and I love spending time with them.



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