The Sewall family of Bath, Maine, built and managed a fleet of more than 100 merchant deepwater square-rigged vessels in the late 1800s and dealt with everything from mutiny to shipwrecks during their voyages.
"Live Yankees: The Sewalls and Their Ships" ($30, Tilbury House Publishers, 2009) by W.H. Bunting captures their story from the company's earliest beginnings by weaving facts and quotes together from reams of documents in the Sewall voluminous family papers.
The book follows the adventures of the brave crews who manned the Sewall ships and often brought back tales of cannibals as well as more mundane, but troublesome matters such as lawsuits and ship performance troubles. Bunting makes it clear no family delayed the inevitable replacement of the square riggers more stubbornly than the Sewalls.
Bunting is a prolific maritime writer who lives in Whitefield, Maine. He has also written "Portrait of a Port: Boston 1852-1914," and "Steamers, Schooners, Cutters and Sloops." For information, visit www.tilburyhouse.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.