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Sea Stories - December 2021

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Surf’s up
Few people outside the surfing world have heard of Nazaré, a Portuguese village on the North Atlantic. The town is not particularly unique, though it has a certain bucolic charm. What is remarkable about Nazaré are the monster waves that pile up there each winter at Praia do Norte (North Beach). Powered by a steep offshore drop-off and prevailing offshore winter winds, the surf here can reach heights of more than 80 feet. And yet there are surfers who come here each year to ride the massive waves and get a chance at grabbing the holy grail of surfing: the 100-footer. This year, HBO released a gripping, six-part documentary about the daredevil surfers of Nazaré and the big-wave surfing community as a whole. Shot in ultra-high definition using drones, helicopters and shoreside photographers, the scenes captured for the series are nothing short of jaw-dropping. You can stream the series, aptly named “100 Foot Wave,” by subscribing to HBO Max. 

More salty reads

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Seadreams

The title of this fascinating book is somewhat misleading. Eloquence of the Sardine: Extraordinary Encounters Beneath the Sea is not an ode to the fishy pizza topping but is instead a deep dive into the hidden lives of some of the coolest creatures in the sea, from whales and eels to cod and herring. The author, Bill François, has filled the book’s 192 pages with mythology and modern science, engaging the reader in tales about whale songs and luminescent jellyfish, to name a few. There’s also a good story about herring that nearly caused a military conflict. Voiceless creatures such as lobsters, scallops and seahorses are brought to life with a compelling narrative that takes readers on a dynamic journey into the mysteries of the deep blue ocean. ($27, St. Martin’s Press)

Accidental Misfortune

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Most people have either read the book or seen the movie adaptation of The Perfect Storm, the true tale of a monster nor’easter/hurricane hybrid that battered the Northeast and Canadian Maritimes in October 1991, taking with it many lives at sea. The Andrea Gale, a swordfish boat that sank with all hands, was at the center of the story, but few know about the Anne Kristine. She was once the oldest continuously sailing ship in the world, and a lesser-known victim of the late-fall storm. Aboard the Anne Kristine was an inexperienced, last-minute addition to the crew: Nelson Simon, author of Soul of the Hurricane: The Perfect Storm and an Accidental Sailor. In this book he describes the events that happened during the horrific voyage, and the Coast Guard rescue that saved the lives of the entire crew. ($28, Chicago Review Press)

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