Boating books review: New illustrated take on old whale tales

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It’s well known that Herman Melville’s seminal novel Moby-Dick was inspired by a real-life disaster, which Nathaniel Philbrick details in his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex.

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Now there’s more for fans of both works: Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Owen Chase (Zenith Press, $35). Chase was the first mate on the Essex, which was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the South Pacific in 1820. As one of only eight survivors among the 30-man crew, Chase recorded the ship’s sinking with frightening clarity: “I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods [550 yards] directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed of around 24 knots, and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect.” Filled with art, photographs, maps and artifacts, this illustrated edition of Chase’s memoir provides a fresh perspective on this amazing ordeal. If it whets your apetite for more, Ron Howard’s upcoming film, In the Heart of the Sea, is set for release in December.

Wet A Line With Confidence

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Accomplished anglers love to share their knowledge and skills, if not their favorite spots. Angler/author Vin T. Sparano shares an encyclopedia of tips and tricks in his Complete Guide to Fresh and Saltwater Fishing (Universe, $29.95). The volume covers it all: species, conventional tackle, fly-fishing, spinning, ice fishing, lures, flies, natural baits, knots, filleting and cooking (with more than 50 recipes). Nearly 600 color photographs and illustrations explain the most successful techniques for any type of fishing, and it is written for novice and experienced anglers. Sparano has written and edited more than 15 books about the outdoors.

New Life Over The Horizon

Any boater knows the liberation that comes with tossing the lines and setting off, whether in search of a few hours of solitude or something much bigger. Rhode Island writer and sailor Capt. Michael L. Martel’s novel, Trade Winds Vagabond (Points East Publishing, $14.99 on Amazon), is based on his experiences in small-boat sailing and passagemaking, wooden boatbuilding and cruising in the Caribbean. The sea-themed yarn tells the story of a disillusioned young man named Nate who casts off the lines and chases his dreams south to the warm waters of the Caribbean in search of a new life as a solo sailing vagabond. Nate lives the dream that many wish for, setting out to explore, discover and experience everything he can while there’s still time.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue.