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Book Notes

Hail to the chief of wooden yachts

The “houseboat cruiser” Sequoia has received a lot of ink in her day, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt summed up her attributes this way: “She is really ideal in many ways — not too big — low free-board — good places to fish from aft, etc.”

The 104-foot John Trumpy design was called the Rolls Royce of American yachting by the New York Times, and she certainly has carried her share of royalty, dignitaries and stars. It served as the presidential yacht since Herbert Hoover’s presidency, until she was auctioned off by Jimmy Carter.

Giles M. Kelly documents the boat’s history in “Sequoia, Presidential Yacht” (Cornell Maritime Press, 2004, $19.95). The book features eight pages of color photographs documenting Sequoia’s current state. But the black-and-white archive photos of the presidents aboard are what capture the role this yacht played in American history.

A rare shot of FDR in his wheelchair fishing off Sequoia, captures the president grinning as he relaxes on the water.

JFK spent his last birthday aboard the yacht, and photos show him and his guests gathered around a table in the main saloon, and opening birthday presents in the aft saloon.

President Nixon and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev boarded Sequoia during their historic 1973 meeting. A photo of the pair and their advisors on Sequoia’s deck captures the two men waving in unison and grinning at onlookers.

This book is for wooden-boat lovers and history buffs alike.

Contact: Cornell Maritime Press, (800) 638-7641.

In a life raft for 2 months

While sailing the Pacific in their sloop, Siboney, Bill and Simonne Butler encounter a pod of pilot whales. The Butlers were delighted until the whales suddenly, and with seeming intent, began to ram the boat, says Butler in “66 Days Adrift” (International Marine, 2005, $14.95). Before they knew it, Siboney was sinking and they were adrift on a life raft.

Their 1989 odyssey lasts 66 days. They have a water desalinator and catch plenty of fresh triggerfish, but they are also harassed by sharks, and beaten by storms and the sun. And in the confines of their 6-foot life raft the problems the two had in their marriage suddenly take center stage.

Despite being passed by three freighters, the Butlers are miraculously rescued by a Costa Rican Coast Guard boat — and thrust by the media onto the world stage.

The Butlers’ story of survival ranked at No. 15 in the Outdoor Life Network’s 2004 “Countdown: Survival 25.” Butler still sails and has logged more than 74,000 blue-water miles.

Contact: International Marine, (212) 904-5951.

Words, facts and trivia for mariners

There are two new additions to your nautical reference library.

Fans of “The Mariner’s Book of Days” will be eager to open “Mariner’s Miscellany,” by Peter H. Spectre (Sheridan House, March 2005, $19.95). Like Spectre’s daybook, Miscellany mixes practical information with quotations, poetry, snippets of nautical literature and black-and-white illustrations.

Readers will find instructions on making your own teak oil and removing stains from fiberglass, alongside a list of “food for the common sailor” that includes dandyfunk (hard biscuit) and sea pie. Chapters include: the search for comfort afloat; nautical books, memorable opening lines; sailcloth and rope; think small; sailors are a superstitious lot; and “L’Envoi.”

Algrove publishing has brought back “The Sailor’s Word-Book,” by Admiral W. H. Smyth (2004, $22.95). Smyth, a British officer, originally wrote the book in 1867. The 744-page dictionary not only covers naval terms, but expressions as well. Some of the terms are still in use today; others help shine a light on the life of a sailor in the Napoleonic era.

Some gems include:

• go ashores — The seamen’s best dress

• Moses’ law — The term among pirates for inflicting thirty-nine lashes on the bare back — forty save one.

• Forage — Food for horses and cattle belonging to an army. Also, the act of a military force in collecting or searching for such forage, or for subsistence or stores for the men; or, with ill-disciplined troops, for valuables in general. Land-piracy.

For “Mariner’s Miscellany,” contact Sheridan House, (914) 693-2410.

For “The Sailor’s Word Book” contact LeeValley & veritas, (800) 871-8158.

Boat-buying tips

in e-book format

Canadian author and boater Doug Dawson has released a copy of his book “Buy a Boat With Confidence and Save Money” in e-book form ($29.95).

The book helps readers determine the right boat for them, how much they should spend; compare the advantages to both new and used boats; calculate the initial and ongoing costs; how to do the research; and how to negotiate.

Those who purchase the e-book also get a copy of four shorter how-to e-books by Dawson: “Boating Activities and Boat Types,” “Decode the Hull ID Number,” “How to Inspect the Boat Yourself and When to Hire a Surveyor,” How to Take a Demonstration like a Pro.”

The e-book can be downloaded immediately after you order it. It comes in PDF format, and is automatically

e-mailed to your computer once the online order is complete.

Dawson’s book is also available in print form for $59.95.

Dawson is fifth-generation of a marine-industry family, and grew up at his family’s marina, north of Toronto.

Contact: Doug Dawson, (519) 538-2887.