Book Notes - Long Island Sound

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While in this corrupt age some may refer to [steam yachts] as the playthings of the rich, I see them as something quite different, for the outstanding ones were a perfect combination of art and science and a moving home far grander and more satisfying than anything known before.”

— The Golden Age of Yachting

While in this corrupt age some may refer to [steam yachts] as the playthings of the rich, I see them as something quite different, for the outstanding ones were a perfect combination of art and science and a moving home far grander and more satisfying than anything known before.”

— The Golden Age of Yachting

Herreshoff’s guide to yachting’s yesteryears

Yacht designer and author L. Francis Herreshoff proposed that a true lover of any sport is usually interested in how the sport came to be.

For these admirers the man born into a family that designed and built some of the most famous yachts wrote “The Golden Age of Yachting” ($35, Sheridan House Inc., August 2007), revealing a panoramic view of the history of yachting. The book is actually a reprint of “An Introduction to Yachting,” first published in 1963. Herreshoff died in 1972.

His review of the sport’s history begins in 6000 B.C., with ancient Egyptian paddle craft and concludes in 1920 with the steam-powered and sailing yachts of the era. Along the way, he touches upon crews and engine, American versus British styles, and match racing such as Sir Thomas Lipton’s challenge for the America’s Cup in sloops named Shamrock.

The 22 chapters are accompanied by illustrations, photographs and diagrams, and a brief glossary is included at the end of the book.

Herreshoff is the son of Nathanael Herreshoff, and also wrote “The Compleat Cruiser” and “The Common Sense of Yacht Design.”

Contact: Sheridan House Inc., www.sheridanhouse.com

Gear without the guesswork

Over 200 articles and product reviews are laid out in “Practical Sailor Guide to Sailing Gear” and “Powerboat Reports Guide to Powerboat Gear” (each $19.95, The Lyons Press, 2006), compiled by Dan Dickison and, respectively, the editors of Practical Sailor and Powerboat Reports magazines.

Sailing Gear is composed of features to equip a cruising sailboat for safety and comfort. Articles discuss specs of the gadgets and end with a Bottom Line summarizing the pros and cons of the brands. The 10 chapters discuss steering, propulsion, onboard maintenance and more, and showcase photos of specific products as well as Value Guides, which compare price and other characteristics of the products.

Powerboat Gear is arranged similarly, its nine chapters highlighting equipment pertaining to powerboats. In the Engines and Propulsion chapter a Value Guide contrasts four brands of outboard engine locks on security, corrosion, rattle factor, warranty and price. Its companion article discusses the lengths the reviewer went through: “It took about three minutes of hard sawing with a relatively new blade to saw the cap off the pin … we then tried sawing through the far end of the tube with both a standard high-speed hacksaw blade and a new carbide-grit rod saw. ... This was not worth it, for thief or tester.”

Each guide includes a list of contacts and useful Web sites.

Contact: The Lyons Press, www.lyonspress.com

Harrowing struggle amid 60-foot seas

The National Weather Service forecasted typical fall weather for Georges Bank, a fertile fishing ground southeast of Cape Cod, on November 21, 1980 — despite the knowledge that the only weather buoy at the bank was malfunctioning. “Fatal Forecast” ($24, Simon & Schuster, July 2007), by Michael J. Tougias, provides an account of the havoc faced by the crews of Fair Wind and Sea Fever, as shortly after the two fishing vessels reached the area, they were struck with hurricane-force winds and 60-foot waves that clobbered the two boats for hours.

A large wave blew out one side of the pilothouse of Sea Fever, captained by Peter Brown — son of Bob Brown, owner of “The Perfect Storm’s” Andrea Gail — and Fair Wind was capsized after a 90- to 100-foot wave crashed into it, trapping the crew inside. Only one member of Fair Wind survived, and Tougias details Ernie Hazard’s experience aboard a tiny inflatable life raft for more than 50 hours adrift in the stormy seas. He also includes narratives of several other vessels that sank the same day and their subsequent rescues.

Michael J. Tougias is the author of 16 books, including “Ten Hours until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do.”

Contact: Simon & Schuster, www.simonsays.com

The old(er) man and the sea

Wyveda Philbert’s husband Joe waited until his retirement to buy a 31-foot Bombay pilothouse clipper sailboat, and after spending five years making Whoosher seaworthy, he was ready to fulfill his lifelong dream: sailing the 5,000-mile stretch of inland water known as The Great Loop. Philbert shares a daily journal of the couple’s journey in “A Young Man’s Dream/An Old Man’s Reality” ($19.86, AuthorHouse, 2007).

She describes their voyage along the Intracoastal Waterway as novice boaters, including their experience calling the Tennessee Valley Authority for help as Whoosher listed off Pickwick Dam: “The first question was, ‘How did you get this number?’” The trip also provided them with sights such as dolphins swimming alongside their boat and charming restaurants that feature old wooden plaques with sayings such as, “Old sailors never die; they just smell that way.”

The couple hopes their story becomes a call to action for people to fulfill their dreams. They have been married 21 years and are proud to now call themselves “Loopers.”

Contact: AuthorHouse, www.authorhouse.com