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Book Notes

For [those] who may ask ‘Will we ever get to see the wreck of La Galga?’ the answer is simple. There are only two obstacles. One is the government. … The other is money.”

— The Hidden Galleon

A sunken galleon and wild stallions

John Amrhein Jr.’s book, “The Hidden Galleon” ($32.95, New Maritma Press, October 2007), documents nearly three decades of searching for the real history

behind a sunken Spanish warship, a breed of wild horses that roam an island and the legal drama that almost prevented it from being told.

Assateague Island is known for these wild horses, believed to have descended from survivors of a long-lost galleon named San Lorenzo.

However, the San Lorenzo was the invention of a con man, and when Amrhein Jr. sought to reveal evidence of fraud, he found himself in a State of Maryland federal courthouse, as the state had laid claim to the fictitious wreck.

The author had uncovered that the wreck was, in fact, what he believed to be La Galga, which had gone ashore in 1750, and could be found in a hidden inlet of Assateague Island. Amrhein Jr. writes that he aims to provide the reader with a thorough account that proves it was La Galga that sank, and shares the legal troubles that arose from this attempt.

The book features more than 30 pages of color photos, along with black-and-white reproductions of maps and charts.

Amrhein Jr. graduated from the University of South Carolina, where his long-standing love of diving led to an interest in maritime history and research. He is currently a real estate broker on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Contact: New Maritima Press,

’Yak fishing tips from an expert

Among the many pluses of kayak fishing that Ric Burnley gives in his guide, “The Complete Kayak Fisherman” ($16.95, Burford Books, Nov. 2007), are that kayaks transport anglers just about anywhere in a vessel that is inexpensive, practically maintenance-free, completely mobile and fully rigged for fishing. Burnley dispenses advice but doesn’t lecture, promising, “One thing this book will not do, however, is profess the ‘right way’ to fish out of a kayak — this is just one way to do it.”

Six chapters cover choosing a kayak for both fresh- and saltwater anglers; outfitting with rod-holders and electronics; storage; anchoring systems; and safety. The last chapter, Regional Review, contains tips and tricks specific to one region or one type of kayak fishing. A Midwestern angler, for example, uses his kayak to access fishing spots that boats cannot; where the bass have never seen a spinner bait, plug or jig.

Ric Burnley is a widely published outdoor writer, and contributes to Salt Water Sportsman among other publications.

Contact: Burford Books,

Nautical origins for English phrases

Those interested in word etymology might be surprised to find that some common English phrases have a nautical origin. In Bill Beavis and Richard McCloskey’s “Salty Dog Talk” ($9.95, Sheridan House, 2007), the origins of such expressions as “no room to swing a cat” (referring to either lack of flogging room, lack of room for a sailing collier to swing at anchor, or a derivation of “cot,” a sailor’s name for his hammock) are discussed, supplemented by Beavis’ whimsical cartoons. The pocket-sized book contains more than 200 phrases and describes how they came ashore.

Bill Beavis was a seaman turned journalist, and Richard McCloskey is a marine historian.

Contact: Sheridan House,

Chesapeake Bay and wooden deadrise boats

“Deadrise and Cross-planked” ($34.95, Cornell Maritime Press, Nov. 2007) details the social and economic impact of 20th-century wooden deadrise boats. More than 150 black-and-white photographs complement author Larry Chowning’s collection — spanning over a quarter-century — which offers insight into the lifestyle of the boatbuilders along the Chesapeake Bay region. As much of the Bay’s boatbuilding history was told through stories, Chowning hopes to preserve this piece of Chesapeake heritage in his book.

Chowning has been covering Chesapeake Bay’s fisheries for regional and national periodicals for more than a decade, and is the author of “Chesapeake Bay Buyboats” and “Chesapeake Legacy.”

Contact: Cornell Maritime Press,

Sailing tips from one old salt

Donald Launer’s “Lessons From My Good Old Boat” ($23.95, Sheridan House, 2007), is a compilation of some of the hundreds of articles he’s written over the years. He offers his insights on sailing in an anthology, and says he hopes time-starved readers can select an article at random and read it in 5 to 15 minutes.

The book touches on Sails and Rigging, Electronics, Navigation and Boat-Handling, Engine and Accessory Equipment, The Hull, In the Cabin, The Environment and The Sailing Life. In addition to photos, the book includes detailed illustrations of gear such as laid, plaited and braid rope, each with a cross-section of its fibers. For those aspiring to sail for more than 70 years, as he has, Launer includes an end section entitled, “Sailing Into Old Age.” Here he suggests ways to “take things a little easier and enjoy a little comfort” while not giving up the sail.

Donald Launer is contributing editor for Good Old Boat Magazine and has been published in Cruising World, SAIL and Offshore magazines.

Contact: Sheridan House,