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Lifestyles of the rich and nautical

Opulence is the key word in “Millionaires, Mansions, and Motor Yachts: An Era of Opulence,” by Ross MacTaggart (W.W. Norton & Co., November 2004, $59.95). The coffee table book offers 256 pages, mostly filled with photos of the vessels belonging to the rich and richer.

The yachts range from 1894 and the 157-foot Formosa (belonging to Feoerge Francis Fabyan), to Emily Roebling Cadwalader’s 407-foot Savarona III, the world’s largest yacht when launched in 1931. MacTaggart also looks at the yachts of Eugene Tompkins, Harry Darlington, Thomas W. Lawson, John Diedrich Spreckels, Alfred I. du Pont and William C. Rands.

Some of the yachts featured include Sequoia and Sequoia II (later to become the presidential yacht), the 227-foot Venetia, and du Pont’s “little boat” the 97-foot Nenemoosha.

The collection of photos here is fantastic. In addition to the expected running shots, famous faces and pictures of elegant saloons and staterooms, there are some surprises. Photos of Nenemoosha’s crew quarters and galley eloquently contrast the elegance enjoyed by the guests. MacTaggart has also chosen to include photos of shipyards, engines and an electric generator.

Each photo is accompanied by the author’s observations. MacTaggart is a seaman and historian. He is also the author of W.W. Norton’s “The Golden Century.”

Contact: W.W. Norton & Co., (212) 354-5500. www.wwnorton.com

A biography of Sir Peter Blake

Three-and-a-half years after the stunning murder in the Amazon of Sir Peter Blake comes the 448-page biography “Sir Peter Blake: An Amazing Life” by Alan Sefton (Sheridan House, April 2005, $24.95).

The book looks at Blake’s 30-year sailing career, which included wins in the America’s Cup and Whitbread Round the World Race. The author also looks at the passion consuming the last years of his life — protecting the environment.

Sefton was manager of blakexpeditions — Blake’s company — and was chief executive of Team New Zealand during the 1999 Cup defense. He edited last year’s “The Last Great Adventure of Sir Peter Blake,” also put out by Sheridan House.

Contact: Sheridan House, (914) 693-2410. www.sheridanhouse.com

Reflections on a vanishing breed

Paul Molyneaux set off to become a fisherman as a teenager, starting as a “lumper” unloading scallop boats in 1976. He has worked off New Jersey’s Cape May, California, Alaska and, ultimately, Maine. It was in this last location that he managed to work alongside Bernard Raynes, a legend of the Rockland area.

In “The Doryman’s Reflection” (Thunder’s Mouth Press, May 2005, $25), Molyneaux writes of his experiences, his friendship with Raynes, and their fights against a government that threatened Maine’s small commercial fishermen.

And throughout, the author examines the life and the fate of his mentor — Maine’s last independent commercial fisherman — and those who went before him.

Molyneaux writes about marine issues for the New York Times, Yankee Magazine, National Fisherman and Fisherman’s Voice.

Contact: Thunder’s Mouth Press, (212) 981-9919. www.thundersmouth.com

Sharing the history of the Maine Peapod

Frank “Junior” Day of Brooklin, Maine, says he always wanted a Peapod. “No one was going to give me one, I couldn’t buy one, so I’d have to build one,” he says in “Peapods of the Maine Coast,” an interactive DVD, filmed, produced and directed by Juliet Bennett.

The Peapod is a rounded, double-ended boat (thus, its name), which has played an essential role in Maine’s history. It was the original lobster boat, according to the DVD, because lobstermen could row either way and walk up the side to haul a trap.

This DVD offers video interviews with people — like Frank “Junior” Day — who have the knowledge behind these boats. In addition to stories and personal remembrances, the interviewees share building techniques including construction, planking and framing.

There is also a series of slideshows that illustrate the different styles of the Peapod.

Contact: (207) 594-1964 or julie

bennett@gmail.com . www.penobscot marinemuseum.org

A compilation of sailboat designs

Robert Perry’s writings are not just design reviews, writes Bill Schanen, editor and publisher of Sailing magazine.

“The term doesn’t do justice to works that are at once critiques, essays and tutorials. They tell us what we need to know about a design and more. They assess both a design’s form and its function,” writes Schanen.

Perry’s sixth compilation of these essays — as published in Sailing in the last five years — is “Sailing Designs, Volume Six” (Port Publications, February 2005, $24.95).

The book is printed in large format (10 inches-by-13 inches), and includes pieces on small boats, cruising boats, cruising-racing boats, racing boats, multihulls and classic boats. There is also an index by boat category and length, as well as a directory of designers and boatbuilders.

Contact: Port Publications, (800) 236-7444.

Updated version of racing rules explained

McGraw-Hill has released the 11th edition of “Paul Elvstrom explains The Racing Rules of Sailing,” edited by Soren Krause ($24.95).

The book covers the 2005-2008 rules, and incorporates ISAF cases up to 2004.

It also includes its signature plastic boat models, for use in illustrating the circumstances of a protest.

Contact: (800) 262-4729. www.inter nationalmarine.com