Good-natured parables in which the lessons learned from sailing are translated into lessons about living. Bode (Blue Sloop at Dawn, 1979) looks back across a half century to his boyhood years on Long Island Sound, where he fell in love with boats and learned to sail. In the title piece, the author, as a 12-year-old eager to sail, is first made to row a small boat, and from the experience comes to understand the importance of mastery not over the boat or the elements but over himself. Sailing with a favorable wind teaches him the dangers of complacency and, from a frightening collision, he learns to handle his fears about the unpredictable. Even sailors' knots become metaphors as Bode likens a sturdy square knot to a good marriage and an improperly tied granny knot to a mismatched couple who ``scrape and chafe against each other.'' Getting lost in fog teaches him not to thrash about wildly in confusion but to wait calmly for ``the one constant in the swirling mist that would set me on my rightful course''—a lesson that serves him well in midlife when his private life collapses and he's lost in a different kind of fog. Sailing also teaches him to attend to details, for, as he puts it, ``everything significant is small and slow.'' A frequent contributor to Reader's Digest, Bode is adept at pulling messages out of ordinary experiences. The images he creates are simple and clear, and so are the lessons he derives from them. A warm, fuzzy read for those who like to curl up with cozy philosophizing.