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Book Notes April 2007

Exploring the fine art of sportfishing

Among the ornate full-page watercolor paintings by Flick Ford, Dean Travis Clarke recounts fishing trips, facts and even shares the occasional recipe in “Fish: 77 Great Fish of North America” ($50, The Greenwich Workshop Press, September 2006).

Divided into three sections — freshwater, saltwater and anadromous — the book is informative, with maps displaying the distribution of each fish, as well as length and weight range accompanying each illustration. Clarke also weaves fishing tips, labeled Catch one!, in with each fish’s info. For example, pumpkinseed sunfish (typically 4 to 9 inches and 1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs) prefer temperate waters with lots of vegetation for protection, and anglers are cautioned that these fish have sharp spines and put up an aggressive fight.

Another fact you might need to know: among other nicknames, the common snook is also known as the soapfish because if it’s cooked without the skin removed, the meat “tastes like that time your mother washed out your mouth for swearing,” according to Clarke.

Ford, in addition to being an avid fisherman who ties his own flies, has been painting fish since the early 1990s; Clarke is the executive editor at World Publications as well as the host of the Sport Fishing Magazine television show on Outdoor Life Network.

Contact: The Greenwich Workshop Press,

Restoring a Herreshoff Meadow Lark

Mudlark is author Ian Scott’s “curiously modified” version of a Meadow Lark, a shallow-draft leeboard sharpie ketch designed by L. Francis Herreshoff. “Mudlark’s Ghosts” ($19.95, Sheridan House Inc., February 2007) tells of Scott’s six-year restoration project of Mudlark. Her “ghosts” are designer L. Francis Herreshoff, naval architect Fenwick C. Williams, commissioning owner Dr. Peter Horvath and builderU. W. Smith, all deceased.

He begins by reflecting on the ghosts’ wooden-boat craftsmanship: “By far the most striking deviation from [Horvath]’s norms was his use of black walnut for the frames and leeboards,” Scott writes, noting that most carvel-hulled boats have oak frames. The choice was surprising, but sound: after more than 50 years, the vessel’s walnut frames remained fully functional. Mudlark was as sturdy a vessel (although design-wise a departure from the Meadow Lark design, advertised as having cedar masts and a huge double cockpit) but had fallen into disrepair during the author’s ownership. Scott then details his renovation process of first deconstructing Mudlark, beginning with her rotting frames, to her re-entry into the waters of Chesapeake Bay in 2006. “[The] ghosts were there, of course, probably wondering what had taken me so long,” he writes.

A wooden-boat enthusiast, Ian Scott works, lives and sails on both sides of the Atlantic, dividing his time between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Contact: Sheridan House Inc., .

The remarkable life of Capt. Lou Kenedy

Captain Louis Kenedy Jr.’s sailing life began in 1928, the year he walked out of GeorgetownUniversity and aboard 35-year-old Amanda F. Lewis, hired as a cook and later a deckhand. Joe Russell’s “The Last Schoonerman” ($24.95, The Nautical Publishing Company, December 2006) tells the story of this last captain to carry cargo under sail on the east coast.

Kenedy ran his shipping enterprises in a “manner obsolete a generation before his time,” as was evident by the 1950s with the use of faster, more efficient motorized vessels, and also with the new power of maritime unions. In 1951, while unloading 6,000 55-gallon drums of avgas above the Artic Circle, he was confronted by a group of union workers, who felt they were not receiving enough money for the dangerous (and frigid) trip to the Artic. Kenedy responded: “I told them to go to hell, climbed back into my shore boat, and steamed back to the City.” Years later, he still received letters from the men, asking to be part of his crew again.

Captain Kenedy died in 1991 at the age of 81, a skilled seaman shaped by the 10 vessels he’d owned and skippered. He had one lament: that the real sailing vessels were gone, having been replaced by “play-acting boats” that don’t run on grit, economy and hard work. “But that’s the way it goes,” he figured.

Contact: Nautical Publishing Company, .

The lure of living aboard

When Beth Leonard and her partner, Evans Starzinger, finished their 36,000-nautical-mile voyage in 1995 and said goodbye to offshore voyaging, they found that after being at sea, life ashore was dull. "Blue Horizons" ($22.95, International Marine/McGraw-Hill Company, 2007) is a compilation of Leonard’s columns written as they returned to life at sea aboard their 47-foot aluminum sloop Hawk.

The book is composed of articles (with the exception of one) that first appeared in Blue Water Sailing magazine as monthly columns in the Blue Horizons series from 1999 to 2005. Leonard describes the doubts she felt in embarking on the liveaboard life: “Was life out here really so much more vivid than life ashore?” While in the Southern Indian Ocean in 25- to 30-knot winds she has a revelation: “I’ve had it with snatching sleep between lurches and crashes … one knee drawn up into my chest and my muscles tensed to stabilize me against the 30-degree heel and the constant roll.”

She describes the sights at location such as the Faroe Islands, where the “sheer black fin as tall as a man” of a full-grown male orca cut through the water from 100 yards away.

Their journey lasted six years. Leonard is currently a regular contributor to several sailing magazines.

Contact: International Marine/

McGraw-Hill Co.,