Booknotes - Soundings Online

Booknotes

Author:
Publish date:

New books

Explorer, scientist,

author and pirate

William Dampier was the first person to circumnavigate the globe three times, to realize that the wind caused currents and subsequently produce global wind maps. He explored Australia before James Cook.

He inspired Darwin to write about subspecies, Jonathan Swift to write about Gulliver, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge to call him a man of exquisite mind. He all but invented the genre of travel writing. His books introduced English readers to zebras and breadfruit, and made the words barbeque and chopsticks part of the vernacular.

Not a bad resume for a pirate.

In “A Pirate of Exquisite Mind” (Walker & Company, 2004, $27), Diana and Michael Preston attempt to reintroduce this 17th-century adventurer to the general public. “He was a pioneering navigator, naturalist, travel writer, and explorer as well as hydrographer who was, indeed, quite happy to seek his fortune as a pirate,” write the authors in the prologue.

Despite his accomplishments as an explorer, his pirating has kept him from any significant recognition, say the authors. “The very activity which made possible his navigational and scientific achievements — buccaneering — was seen as a taint overshadowing his attainments.”

Diana Preston also wrote the recent release “Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy.”

Contact: Walker & Company, (212) 727-8300. www.walkerbooks.com

Boats in

American history

Young adults can learn more about the role boats played in American history in “On the Waters of the USA,” by Martin W. Sandler (Oxford University Press, February 2004, $19.95).

The 63-page book traces America’s relationship with boats from the Native Americans’ dugout canoes, through steamships, whalers, large sailing vessels, liners and modern “superships.” The hardcover also has 27 color and eight black-and-white illustrations.

The book is part of Oxford’s Transportation in America series, which also includes books on horses, trains and subways.

Contact: Oxford University Press, (800) 451-7556. www.us.oup.com/us

Exploring Maine’s

hidden harbors

William Hubbell explores the Maine coast with his camera lens in “Safe Harbor” (Down East Books, July 2003, $30). This book of photography takes the reader from the Piscataqua River, through Penobscot Bay and Bar Harbor to Cobscook Bay. Hubbell introduces the reader to Maine’s working ports and remote harbors.

In the 15 months he spent compiling photos for his book, Hubbell captured lobstermen and yachtsmen, but the real star of this book is the water — in every season and all weather.

Hubbell’s work has appeared in National Geographic, Time and Life magazines. He is a resident of Cumberland Foreside, Maine.

Contact: Down East Books, (207) 594-9544. www.downeastbooks.com

Cruising tips

for the Great Circle

“(Not So) Old Men and the Sea,” (iUniverse, 2004, $19.95) relates the six years Pete Prestegaard prepared for, and then negotiated the Great Circle route in a 38-foot cruiser. Prestegaard, his wife and their dog, Bingo, sailed the waters of the Eastern, Midwestern and Southern United States, and Canada.

The book gives an account of their voyage, as well as cruising tips. Part II of the book, “I learned about cruising from that …” lists 30 lessons with titles like: fog, life vests, wakes, docking, anchoring out, systems and ice at sea.

Prestegaard also includes appendixes with log entries, specs, checklists and additional reading.

Contact: www.iuniverse.com.

The story of

a restoration

Peter J. Baumgartner calls “London Goes to Sea,” a book of mistakes. The 224-page book (Sheridan House, March 2004, $19.95) recounts Baumgartner’s efforts to restore a 1977 Cape Dory 27 named London. It chronicles his triumphs and misadventures in making London seaworthy again, then sailing her in the waters of New England. London’s cruising grounds ranged from Block Island, R.I., to Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Rather than a how-to tome, Baumgartner has written a narrative that contains practical advice. His experiences over the four years spanned in the book are recounted, from his near miss with a cruise ship off Cape Cod to details on the life cycle of a jellyfish.

Contact: Sheridan House, (888) 743-7425. www.sheridanhouse.com

Cruising guide:

The Bahamas

Yachtsman’s Guide has released its updated cruising guide for the Bahamas. The “2004 Yachtsman’s Guide to the Bahamas” (Yachtsman’s Guide, 2004, $39.95) is a return to the 6-inch-by-9-inch size — a change requested by the readers, according to the publisher. The guide also covers recent changes in the fishing and customs fees.

Contact: (877) 923-9653. www.yachts mansguide.com