How to Avoid Huge Ships

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Bookcover - how to avoid huge ships.jpg
Author John W. Trimmer
Country United States
Language English
Subject Seamanship
Publisher First edition: National Writers Press
Second edition: Cornell Maritime Press /Tidewater
Publication date
First edition: 1982
Second edition: 1993
Media type Paperback
Pages First edition: 97
Second edition: 112
ISBN 978-0881000191 (1st edition)
ISBN 978-0870334337 (2nd edition)

How to Avoid Huge Ships is a 1982 book by Captain John W. Trimmer, a Master Mariner and Seattle harbor pilot. The first edition was self-published from Trimmer's home in Seattle, and carried the subtitle Or: I Never Met a Ship I Liked. It is a maritime operations guidance book, but also attracted some attention due to its title, which some found to be unusual, incongruous, and humorous.

Intended for a specialized audience (the captains or operators of small private boats, such as yachts and trawlers), the book gives advice on appropriate avoidance actions when confronted by the near presence of a large ship such as a freighter, along with anecdotes and background information such as the capabilities and operating procedures of the large ships.[1]

Bookseller/Diagram Prize and subsequent attention[edit]

The book won the 1992 Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year[2] and was used to title the first compilation of prize winners, How to Avoid Huge Ships and Other Implausibly Titled Books (2008).[3] The book finished third in The Bookseller's 2008 competition for the oddest book title of all time (behind Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers and People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It).[4]

Beginning in 2000, the book attracted humorous reader reviews on its entry. The book, its prize-winning status, and sometimes its accompanying constellation of odd reviews, was commented on by publications ranging from Cracked[5] to the New York Times.[6] The New York Daily News called it "the best book ever"[7] while Publishers Weekly conversely called it "the worst book ever".[8]

Jimmy Fallon covered the book on his "Do Not Read List" segment of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Alex Horne's first appearance (at the 2000 Edinburgh festival) was with a show titled "How To Avoid Huge Ships".


  1. ^ "How to Avoid Huge Ships (review)". Good Reads. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  2. ^ "Distinctively odd". BBC Today. BBC. September 8, 2008. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  3. ^ Rickett, Joel (2008). How to Avoid Huge Ships and Other Implausibly Titled Books. Aurum Press Ltd. ISBN 1845133218.
  4. ^ Alison Flood (September 4, 2008). "Greek Postmen win oddest book title prize". The Guardian. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  5. ^ Christina H (December 21, 2010). "8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews". Cracked. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  6. ^ Sarah Lyall (March 27, 2009). "Odd Prize: Judging a Book by Its Title". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  7. ^ Jeva Lange (February 8, 2013). "'How to Avoid Huge Ships' is clearly the best book ever". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  8. ^ Gabe Habash (July 21, 2011). "The Worst Book Ever is 'How to Avoid Huge Ships'". PWxyz. Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2013.