Sea Stories - October 2019

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What we’re watching

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A RACY ENDING

The Whitbread Round the World Race (known today as the Ocean Race) has always been one of the most grueling endurance feats on earth, perhaps even more so in its early days, given that many of the vessels were production boats, not the high-tech, over-engineered thoroughbred Volvo Ocean 65s that were used in the last competition. So, in 1989, the idea of an all-female crew participating seemed inconceivable to many people in the male-dominated world of pro sailing. British sailor Tracy Edwards thought that was a load of malarkey and set out to find and fund a boat she could skipper in the fifth Whitbread. Edwards put everything on the line, mortgaging her house to pay for an old, 58-foot aluminum racing yacht the team ended up naming Maiden. Now in select movie theaters, Maiden is the namesake movie that tells the story not only of Edwards’ Whitbread campaign and the hurdles she and her crew faced, but also of the challenging life events she experienced leading up to the big race. (93 minutes, Sony Pictures Classics)

Salty Reads 

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Dark and Stormy

The SS Portland, a 291-foot paddle steamer built in Bath, Maine, was one of the most luxurious passenger ships of her time. Built in 1889, she provided service between Boston and Portland, Maine. Portland plied the Atlantic for 9 years and had a reputation for being safe and reliable. Then, in November 1898, a powerful Nor’easter with 87-knot winds and 60-foot waves formed off New England. Lacking today’s sophisticated weather forecasting and VHF radio communications, and steered by a captain filled with pride and ego, the ship steamed right into the center of the storm. The ship was never seen again. At least 200 people were lost. The Wreck of the Portland is J. North Conway’s visceral account of what happened that night, with testimonies from friends and family of those who perished and accounts from the Coast Guard. ($27, Lyons Press)

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Do What You Love

Working as a marine journalist has its perks, including running the newest boats, traveling to great ports, and writing about a subject you love. There are downsides, too, such as long hours, working weekends and boat show marathons. The best professionals are able to make it all work, though, and wildly entertain their readers along the way. Doug Logan is one of those writers. He’s worked for a variety of marine publications and websites, both as a writer and editor. Logan’s new book, BoatSense: Lessons and Yarns from a Marine Writer’s Life Afloat, is a compilation of his best work, a collection of salty wisdom, anecdotes and practical advice from a pro. He also covers the highly successful habits of the most competent seamen and women, and what it takes to safely and pleasantly operate most any small boat, sail or power. ($18, Seapoint Books)

Podcasts

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Ocean Sailing

Join David Hows aboard his Beneteau 45 Ocean Gem as he sails around Australia, often with paying guests who are in it for the adventure. There are interviews with sailors and salty passage-makers, and personal accounts from Hows, who talks of his bluewater adventures, including an ocean passage down Australia’s East Coast, a Tasman Sea crossing or circumnavigating Tasmania. Tune in with Apple’s podcast app.