Book review: The Field Guide to Ocean Voyaging: Animals, Ships, and Weather at Sea

The Field Guide to Ocean Voyaging: Animals, Ships, and Weather at Sea

By Ed Sobey, Ph.D. 

Do you want to know more about cruising than anyone else on the ship?  When asked by Ed Sobey, Ph.D., to review his book, The Field Guide to Ocean Voyaging: Animals, Ships, and Weather at Sea, my first thought was that you can never know enough about cruising.  The title was intriguing, so he sent me a copy for review and I started reading.  And boy, am I glad that I did!  This is a great book to read for first time cruisers, especially those with a scientific interest in cruising and the big blue sea.  Ed Sobey, with a Ph.D. in Oceanography, is an avid cruiser, but more than that, he’s a scientist through and through.


Professor Sobey has participated in many expeditions, has done research in Antartica, and has also done a circumnavigation of the globe. He teaches oceanography for Semester at Sea on the ship, World Odyssey, which is an interesting concept with the ship actually a floating classroom.  He’s traveled to 81 countries on all 7 continents, and also lectures at sea for passengers on several cruise lines.  The great outdoors also captures Ed’s interest.  He runs, bikes, swims, kayaks, and SCUBA dives. It looks like he also enjoys tinkering around since he has published a large number of other books about different kinds of science, and the way things work.   He was also the director of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, along with four other museums.  We may have crossed paths at some point, since we lived in Akron at that time and enjoyed the Hall of Fame many times. 

Everything you ever wanted to know about cruising

Want to know what to pack?  Professor Sobey gives some suggestions on how to save luggage space, and also on what you really need to pack.  Want to know more about a ship, itself?  He goes into great detail in first explaining the ship’s parts to you.  Want to know more about the ship’s crew and what they do? What kind of cruise should you go on?  Ship or private excursions? Read about it in this book.   

If you’ve ever looked at your ship, and wondered what all the markings are about, this is a must read.  I learned a lot of new things that I didn’t know before. Learn about a number different types of ships and how they’re used.  Learn about the bridge, how it works in modern day ships.  One thing that I didn’t realize about the bridge is that to keep the crew awake an alarm sounds every few minutes.  The alarm has to be shut off physically or the Captain will get the alarm.  That is definitely reassuring. And learn about the engine room and works of the ship.

Coral Reefs, marine animals, and birds…and of course…fish

And then Professor Sobey goes on to introduce you to the coral reefs, marine animals, and birds that you may see on your cruise.  Of course, it all depends on where you are cruising, but he has included a chart on where you may find different species.  He covers different types of whales, dolphins, birds, sea turtles, sea otters, and seals and sea lions.  I have to admit that I’ve seen dolphins many times and a manatee once, but my dream is to see a whale at sea. 

Also covered in this book extensively are flying fish.  We’ve seen flying fish many times, and it’s most relaxing watching them from our balcony. I think that’s maybe the most common thing to see on a Caribbean cruise. If you watch the ocean on either side of the ship while it’s moving, you may very well see them yourself. We’ve also seen flocks of birds swooping down to capture the flying fish midair.  It was interesting to read more about these beautiful creatures.  And next time I see them, I’ll definitely watch them more closely.

Even seaweed

Seaweed is something that I’ve often wondered about as I watch yellow/brown patches drift by for miles and miles.  And now I know that it’s called Sargassum.  I’d love to get up closer and see all the marine life that must be living in its confines.

And learn about the weather

Weather at sea is also covered.  Learn more about hurricanes, and how to tell if a storm is approaching. How safe is lightning when you’re at sea? What causes waves and how big are they?  Why is the ocean different colors in different places?  And more about weather than the normal cruiser will ever understand.  But still, it’s quite interesting. 

And don’t forget about your ports of call

Land Ho!  That’s a term that every cruiser who wants to explore other countries and islands loves to hear.  Learn about the different types of islands, including volcanic, and about other areas that you can visit on a ship. 

Recommended by the Quiet Cruiser

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about everything that has to do with cruising, especially if you’re of the scientific bent.  It’s a very in-depth book, with plenty of pictures, and snippets of trivia and knowledge, and is available in a book or Kindle version.  This is a whole lot of cruising info! And it’s a great way to impress your fellow cruisers after you read it with your knowledge of everything cruising.

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