Skip to main content

Book Notes

"Angling records are different. On the right day, virtually anyone wetting a line can earn one. While very few of us can ever hope to achieve a world record performance in the shot put or high jump, anglers of all stripes cling to the thought of that once-in-a-lifetime catch. The great thing about it is that you just never know.”

- BIG: The 50 Greatest World Record Catches

Tall tales of fish catches will keep you hooked

Image placeholder title

With the fishing poles put away for winter in most of the country, anglers should enjoy reading “BIG: The 50 Greatest World Record Catches” ($50, Greenwich Workshop Press, 2008), an oversize hardcover book with huge watercolor illustrations by Flick Ford of each fish as it would have looked coming out of the water.

The yarn behind each catch is written by International Game Fish Association historian Mike Rivkin, and the detailed illustrations are accompanied by archival photography. The catches include the still-standing record of a 14-pound brook trout caught by Dr. John Cook in 1916. Rivkin also gives insight into big-game angling and the techniques used to catch these monster fish.

Rivkin is a veteran offshore angler and has served as an IGFA international representative. He has written two other books on the history of angling and caught a 1,226-pound black marlin off the coast of Australia in 1984. Rivkin lives in La Jolla, Calif., with his wife and three children and is often out on his fishing boat Silverfish.

Ford has been painting fish since the early 1990s and his first book “FISH: 77 Great Fish of North America,” published in 2006, received wide acclaim. He lives in Schodack Landing, N.Y., with his partner, Lori Groh.

Sequel tells of raising a family while at sea

Image placeholder title

In the wake of “Desperate Voyage,” the sailing story of John Caldwell’s 1946 single-handed 9,000 mile voyage from Panama to Sydney, Australia, aboard a 29-foot vessel to reunite with his wife, comes “Mary’s Voyage” ($19.95, Sheridan House, Inc., 2008) by Mary Caldwell and Matthew M. Douglas.

Touted as a sequel, it tells the story of the couple’s 1952 voyage in a 36-foot sailboat with their three small children. Their goal was to become the first family to voyage around the world on a small sailing vessel using only a sextant and dead reckoning to guide them across thousands of miles of ocean.

Mary Caldwell began the voyage pregnant, with her toddler and baby daughters in tow, gave birth to her son in Tahiti, and weathered seasickness, ocean storms and a tsunami. After completing their circumnavigation, the couple went on to build Palm Island Resort in the Grenadines.

Caldwell is now a widow and, after spending an adventurous life on three continents, is retired in Florida. Douglas is a scientist and writer who completed a screenplay of “Desperate Voyage” and resides in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Baby steps toward learning the boating life

Image placeholder title

Future skippers of the world can get their start with “My First Picture Book of Boating Words” ($9.95, Little Harbor Publishing, 2008) by Nicholas J. Agro.

The book features full-color photos of essential boating and seaside items such as a ferry, seagull, fishfinder, throttle, VHF radio and nautical chart. It covers what is on board both sail and powerboats, and its purpose is to teach children the basic terminology of boating. With a durable soft plastic cover with a sunny orange border, it is kid-friendly.

Agro has been an avid boater on both sail and power vessels for 17 years and enjoys cruising the seas around Long Island Sound. His son, Ethan, was the inspiration for this project, and the book has been dedicated to him. Agro resides in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and mentions he is an avid reader of Soundings.

A life of selfless service and daring rescues

Image placeholder title

The U.S. Life-Saving Service had an unofficial credo: “You have to go out, but you do not have to come back.”

“Lifesavers of the South Shore: A History of Rescue and Loss”($19.99, History Press, 2008) by John Galluzzo charts a course through the service’s evolution from its meager beginnings in refuge huts built after the American Revolution to its absorption into what is now known as the U.S. Coast Guard.

The book focuses on the service stationed on Massachusetts’s south shore and its deeds of selflessness and courage in the face of frozen beaches and chilling seas. Readers meet legends such as Joshua James, whose surfboat Nantasket once saved 29 men from six boats during a grueling 36 hours. The book includes archival photos and illustrations of the men and women involved with the service.

Galluzzo is the executive director for the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Foundation, editor of the Wreck and Rescue Journal, and awards committee chairman for the Foundation of Coast Guard History. He has published several books with History Press and lives in Massachusetts.

A sailing — and media — icon’s tale is told

Image placeholder title

A business legend, sportsman, and philanthropist, Ted Turner has done it all.

“Call Me Ted” ($30, Grand Central Publishing, 2008) is a memoir by Turner, written with Bill Burke, giving a close-up on the life of the America’s Cup victor and founder of CNN, TBS and TNT.

Turner discusses his major influences, such as his father’s hired hand Jimmy Brand, and how his education at McCallie Military Academy helped shape his strong work ethic. He discusses his inspiration for the creation of CNN, and how his participation and victory in the 1977 America’s Cup honed his competitive edge.

Bill Burke is a media executive who has been president of TBS and general manager of Turner Classic Movies. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.


Image placeholder title

Boating books review: ‘Johnny is missing’

On July 24, 2013, lobsterman John Aldridge fell overboard 40 miles off Long Island, New York, as his fishing partner aboard Anna Mary, Anthony Sosinski, slept below.