The Civil War, fought at sea
Naval history fans may already be familiar with Randall Peffer’s “Seahawk” series of books that novelize the real-life adventures of Capt. Raphael Semmes, a skilled seaman in the Confederate Navy whose ship, the CSS Alabama, burned and seized dozens of Union Navy ships during the Civil War.
“Seahawk Burning” is the final volume in the trilogy (2012, Tyrus Books, $15.95, 320 pages, paperback). With spy games, mutinies and storms woven into the plot, the author leads Semmes — President Lincoln’s Public Enemy No. 1 — and his crew into an epic sea battle with the USS Kearsarge, captained by his old friend John A. Winslow.
Peffer is a former travel writer and mariner aboard numerous vessels — a skipjack, cargo schooner, cod longliner — and he writes with a strong sense of life aboard.
October 2012 issue.
Sea stories with a sense of wonder
David H. Roper is a lifelong boatman who has penned a collection of nautical-themed short stories in “Watching for Mermaids” (2011, Points East Publishing, $13.49 through www.Amazon.com, 200 pages, paperback). Based on his own experiences, the 30 tales reveal the thoughts of a creative writer who has spent his life on the water.
There are stories about a teenage solo sailor who meets his biggest challenge: a 22-year-old woman; the frenzied mind of a young man who falls overboard 300 miles offshore at night; a Mississippi River sternwheeler that’s headed straight into a tornado with 300 wedding guests; a young delivery skipper who takes two aspiring voyagers on the world’s shortest circumnavigation attempt — aboard a floating Winnebago; and an octogenarian whose grandson retrieves him from a nursing home for one last sail.
“To me, cruising has been about escaping our often predictable lives,” Roper writes in one story. “It is a controlled adventure, an experience of hope, expectation, surprise and reward.”
October 2012 issue
Herb McCormick has been a sailing journalist for more than 30 years, and “Gone to the Sea” is an anthology of some of his favorite stories (Paradise Cay, 2011, $16.95 paperback, 315 pages).
The oft-told story of a couple who pursues their dream of cruising exotic locales has another entry.
A New England port in its early days
“Marblehead’s First Harbor” is a love letter to a community by lobsterman Hugh Peabody Bishop and his sister, Brenda Bishop Booma — locals with a reverence for the past and the skill to entertainingly document the town that shaped their lives (The History Press, 2011, $23.99 paperback, 304 pages).
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