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Despite the cheers in her honor as she sailed up the river toward whatever the future might hold, the Chesapeake would never seem to gain the good graces of history and historians. Not even two hundred years would soften an initial, and seemingly unfair, judgment of her perceived shortcomings.”

— The Enduring Journey of the U.S.S. Chesapeake

Despite the cheers in her honor as she sailed up the river toward whatever the future might hold, the Chesapeake would never seem to gain the good graces of history and historians. Not even two hundred years would soften an initial, and seemingly unfair, judgment of her perceived shortcomings.”

— The Enduring Journey of the U.S.S. Chesapeake

One ship’s life in the center of history

The villagers of Wickham, England, didn’t know that the wood of their old water mill was made from timbers that formed the USS Chesapeake, the historic American 38-gun sailing frigate.

Chris Dickon takes an insightful look at the background of this ship in “The Enduring Journey of the USS Chesapeake: Navigating the Common History of Three Nations” ($21.99, The History Press, 2008).

Though the British ship HMS Shannon won the day in a battle (during the War of 1812) in BostonHarbor, a large portion of the Chesapeake was recycled by ship breakers in Portsmouth, England. When the Wickham mill became an eyesore many years later, her past life of crossing the waters of America, Canada and England came to light.

Dickon is a writer, historian and Emmy-winning television producer, whose previous books include Chesapeake Bay Steamers and Eastern Shore Railroad. He mainly focuses his research and writing on Virginia and its rich history.

Maine photos capture nautical imagery

The 2009 edition of “Calendar of Wooden Boats” by photographer Benjamin Mendelowitz ($15.95, NOAH Publications, 2008) and “The Sailing Life: Nautical Details” by Alison Langley ($13.99, BrownTrout Publishers, 2008) are both available for purchase.

These two acclaimed Maine photographers take different approaches to their work. Mendelowitz has been producing his yearly calendar since 1983 and this year features 12 new photographs of everything from power to sail, making it a perfect gift for any boater. Each photograph is accompanied with a short description of the craft by Maynard Bray. Langley’s work takes a detailed look at boats, focusing on block-and-tackles, transoms and helm wheels on a variety of classic boats. Each photograph includes a caption of what the object is and the vessel it belongs to.

Both calendars come in a 12-by-14-inch format and are available at bookstores, marine stores and online.

Learn the ropes of sailing, step by step

Both experienced sailors that need a handy guide and novices learning the ropes can benefit from “Learn Sailing Right! Beginning Sailing” ($17.95, United States Sailing Association, 2008).

Following the sequence a beginning sailor would learn, the book starts with a tour of a sailboat and explains the concepts of how sails harness the wind to move forward, all the while providing helpful and detailed drawings. The next step puts the sailor at the helm, describing how to steer and to keep the sails in the right position to catch the optimum amount of wind. The book also discusses safety and how to get out of tough spots, as well as basic seamanship skills.

The book is the collaboration of many eminent sailing professionals, such as John Kantor, founder and director of LongshoreSailingSchool; and Gary Jobson, member of US Sailing’s Board of Directors, who provides the introduction. For information, visit www.ussailing.org .

Weave your way through the Leewards

Caribbean cruisers may want to pick up a copy of “The Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands” ($34.95, Cruising Guide Publications, 2008) by Chris Doyle.

In its 10th edition, the guide gives up-to-date information about the islands from Anguilla south to Dominica. The spiral-bound manual includes full-color photographs, sketch charts and key GPS coordinates. There are also valuable guides to haul-out facilities, marinas, shoreside shopping and snorkeling for each island group.

Readers will also find aerial shots of the most popular anchorages and where to find onshore hotels, transportation, entertainment and provisioning. An index in the back of the book gives numbers and cell phones for various services throughout the island. For information, visit www.cruisingguides.com .

Patience, position are the key to fishing

Whether one is a seasoned fisherman or a newbie to the hook and line, Captain Mark Wisch’s book “Lessons from a Lifetime on the Water: Eight Essential Rules to Live By” ($23.95, hardcover, Pacific Edge Press, 2007) provides invaluable knowledge for bringing home the perfect catch.

Mixing stories of his own life growing up saltwater fishing with practical how-to tips, Wisch’s book gives readers an easy and enjoyable read. He explains how timing, patience, positioning and determination are some of the key ingredients to getting the best catch. He also devotes a book to the details, such as knowing how to put a reel on the rod correctly and having your baits and lures arranged properly for whatever fish one plans to catch.

Wisch owns and operates Pacific Edge Tackles in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he manufactures a complete line of live bait tanks. He writes regular columns for Western Outdoors and calls in a weekly fish report to the local radio show “Let’s Talk Hookup.” Wisch lives with his wife, Chris, and their dog, Emma, who regularly go fishing on Pacific Edge, his 35-foot Parker powerboat.