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Watching for Mermaids

Sea stories with a sense of wonder

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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, 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