I love books about sailing, those of the narrative variety. I don’t mind having around the ‘how to’s’, but I can’t read them from cover to cover. I do, however, enjoy stories about sailing adventures. Here, then, are a few I’ve read over the past year and my thoughts on them:
Bound for Roque Island – Sailing Maine and the World by R.j. Rubadeau. ISBN: 1935098330
Rubadeau is preparing his old wooden sailing vessel for what may be the last summer sailing the family does together. His daughter is married, pregnant, and living in Alaska. His son is finishing up a high school program on the high seas (what a way! wish I’d known about such adventures when I was a kid!) and getting reading to start college.
The book glides back and forth between the present time and stories of how he got into sailing and many of his early adventures. Thrown in is alot of advice on preparing the boat, and things he’d done right and wrong througout his sailing career.
A very easy read. I really enjoyed the trip! The time leaps didn’t leave me lost as to where we were. And I appreciated that he let it be known that this first person narrative was definitely his own viewpoint of events.
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. ISBN: 1593082703
From every old salt to whom I mention I read this, I get a knowing smile. This classic was originally published in 1840 and is still a delightful tale. A young man is recovering from an illness that prevents him from continuing his college studies. At the time, it was felt that sea air had curative powers. As a member of a Brahmin family in Boston (the ‘old money’ families), he could have travelled as a companion to a wealthy friend and spent his time with little to do but find his own amusement. Instead, he signs on as crew on a sailing ship bound for California. The book is the story of his travels, and was the first sea narrative written from the point of view of a crew member; previous novels had been written by officers or by passengers.
The author explains every part of his voyage in detail, understanding that most of his readers will have no experience on a sailing ship. He describes the crew’s quarters – before the mast – and their conditions. He explains about ‘good’ officers and ‘bad’ officers that he serves under. He talks about his duties and his own progression from greenhorn to seasoned sailor.
But the most interesting, to me, part of the book, are his descriptions of the California ports that he visits: San Diego, Los Angeles, Monterey and San Francisco. It was fascinating to hear about these places 200 years ago, when they were still Spanish territory.
The author does return and complete his studies, and becomes an attorney. He is well known for defending sailors against brutal officers in court. He is also responsible for writing some of the U.S.’s early maritime legislation.
The link I’ve provided is to the free Project Gutenberg edition. But that version doesn’t include the illustrations and diagrams. The free Kindle and Nook editions do. But I think I may just break down and buy myself a hardcover version, just for the chance to re-read passages from it over and over again.
Tales of the Seven Seas: The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O’Brien by Dennis M. Powers ISBN:1589794478
This book, chronologically, takes off where Before the Mast ends. It tells the life of an Irishman who had set off to become an intern for an office job. On the way, he meets a sailing captain who regales him with his adventures. Much to the family’s chagrin, the boy signs on as crew on a sailing vessel and never turns back.
The difference with this book over the other is that O’Brien stays a sailor, working his way up to captaining many vessels, from sailboats to steam engines. His voyages take him all over the Pacific, to Hawaii and the Far East. We learn of his family as well as his adventures.
This is a fascinating book about an amazing man.
The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife by Janna Cawrse Esarey ISBN: 1416589082
This true story is about a woman who tells people in college that she’s going to live on a boat. Living in Washington state, I wouldn’t think that would be a big deal. But this person has never even been on a boat before. Fast forward through college, girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl finds boy again and marries him. He has grown up with boats and, at some point, they decide to take off in said boat and sail to the Far East.
It is nice to read a book written by a woman who actually knows something about sailing. She describes its beauty, the frustrations it can be, especially on a long haul with many miles between ports and nowhere to go, and the fear when things go wrong.
This book is written as a series of essays. There is a timeline to it, but not the flow that a novel should have. Esarey writes stories for sailing magazines, so I guess she’s still more comfortable with that shorter format.
Sex, Lies and Spinnakers by Steve Van Slyke ISBN: 0982554907
This is the only fiction book of the bunch. This story is also about a couple that decides to go cruising to the Far East. In their case, they’re going to follow friends down to Mexico and hang out for a bit before they determine if they’re ready to cross the ocean.
But, in Mexico, the friends they’re sailing with are murdered. A local is arrested for the crime, but neither our protagonists nor the police chief believe the local guy did it. But it’s bad for tourism to say otherwise.
That means one of a handlful of Americans must have done it, all cruisers themselves. And they’re all heading east. So our protagonists decide to follow and try to figure out who the murder(s) are.
I liked the first half of the story. It was well written. There was a definite sense that the person knew what they were talking about regarding cruising and boats. The interaction between the characters was good. But the second half of the book was difficult to read. It’s as if it was written by another person. The characters move from being very 3-dimensional to being very flat. The personalities change with no good transition to show how/why. I’m not sure whether it’s because the author should have just stuck with a good sailing story because he didn’t know how to write a good mystery, or because he got tired of the novel and tried to get too much in just to finish it.[Top]
Sheesh! I can’t believe I haven’t written in here in 6 months! So much to write about, too: painted the bottom, lost an engine, researched electric engines, painted the interior, fixed the leaky windows. And the sailing, too. Funny thing – was out of work for 3 months and spent alot of it doing repairs on the boat. But didn’t write about it. Ah well! Will try to remember some of the details, add a few pictures, and get caught up again.[Top]
If you look at the last post, it appears as if I haven’t been doing much over the last month. But I’ve actually been out several times since that fated journey. It’s just it shook me up so badly, it’s taken awhile to even get it written. And I did change the date to reflect when the even actually happened. And now that I have written it, I can spend some time writing about some of my other experiences.[Top]
Megan and I spent some time today putting together the unnaming and renaming ceremony for the boat. Here’s our text, gathered from a bunch of sources that I’ll reference when I get a few minutes:
Opening Invocation & Blessing:
In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future. We invoke the ancient Celtic water Goddess Danu for which the river Danube was named to favor us with her blessing today.
Expression of Gratitude:
Mighty Danu, Queen of all that moves in or on the waves, and mighty St. Nicholas, guardian of sailors! We offer thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.”
Raise your cup
A toast to the previous owners of this vessel!
Supplication & De-Naming:
Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection all the old names this vessel has held. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her previous names to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea.
At this point, the prepared metal tag is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.
Now therefore, we submit this supplication, that the all the old . names of this vessel be struck and removed from your records and archives.
Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with her new name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the self-same privileges she previously enjoyed.
In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court.
Pour at least half of the bottle of Red Wine or Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among your guests.
Cleansing of the Boat
We ask Danu to cleanse this boat and prepare her for her new name.
Take the sage around the boat. Invoke each of the wind gods at each direction.
Virgin splashes her pee from a cup onto the bow.
We ask Eurus, ruler of the East winds to grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scouree of your mighty breath.
We ask Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind to grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.
We ask Zehpyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.
We as Notus, exalted ruler of the South wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.
Surround this vessel in a shield of white, and a shield of blue. Together these shields will protect this vehicle and its occupants from all harm and mechanical breakdown. These shields will protect from harm any that come near this vehicle, especially the four-leggeds, the winged ones, and the finned ones. These shields will remain intact and at full strength until this vehicle returns home. As I have spoken, so mote it be.
Rededication & Re-Naming:
We will now perform the christening. Reverend Jimmy will provide a serenade during this part of the ceremony.
Let it be recorded, that on this day, June 1, 2008, and forever more, this fine vessel is named 4 Degrees. I name this ship 4 Degrees. May the gods and goddesses bless her and all who sail in her. So mote it be.
Take some more champagne and pour drinks for everyone who does not already have a drink. Make a toast to you, the owner, to your spouse or significant other, and last to your new boat, and pour that into the water. With every toast, ring the ship’s bell.
First mate: First, a toast to the Captain.
Captain: Next a toast to my lovely (or handsome) First Mate. Finally, a toast to Four Degrees!
Next, we will place a coins from all over the Earth under the mast as good luck charms, and as a symbol of generosity to this vessel, to show her that we will care for her and attend to her every need and desire.
Last, thank everyone for attending and continue the festivities in celebration of this joyous
Finally, a toast to all of you, with many thanks for coming today to help carry out this essential naming ceremony and to celebrate this festive occasion. Cheers/Salu/Lehiem[Top]