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Coming of age

on a square-rigger

At the turn of the 19th century, it was somewhat a rite of passage for well-bred young American men to go to sea. “Sea Struck,” by W. H. Bunting (Tilbury House, September 2004, $30) relates the adventures of three such Massachusetts men, using log books, letters and their journals. The book is also sprinkled with plenty of photographs.

Two of the men in Bunting’s book, Frank Besse and Rodman Swift, went to sea as paying passengers. Tod Swift, however, chose to sign on as a seaman.

Excerpts from Tod Swift’s secret journal tells of the hunger and intrigue among the crewmembers on the voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco, via Japan. He also writes of a fire on board, the crew going on strike and a cook who armed himself with a cleaver.

The book captures the age and the character of life aboard a square-rigged ship. The accompanying photos help bring the era to life.

Contact Tilbury House, (800) 582-1899.

Converting from

cruiser to racer

There are no sailing basics in “Getting Started in Sailboat Racing,” by Adam Cort and Richard Stearns (International Marine, September 2004, $14.95). There are also no advanced tactics. This book is aimed specifically at day sailors and cruisers who want to test their skills.

Testing yourself against the racecourse and other sailors will make you a better sailor and provide you with great satisfaction, encourage the authors in the introduction. “Historically, sailboats have existed not just for pleasure, but to get something done. Even the dowdiest cruiser has at its heart a clipper ship or fishing schooner just begging to be the first one in.”

“Getting Started in Sailboat Racing” begins with the rules, then covers starting, the windward leg, rounding, the downwind leg, finishing, tactics and weather. There are also three separate chapters on understanding and achieving boat speed.

With Cort and Stearns’ enthusiasm for the topic and straightforward advice, it’s hard not to read this book without picturing yourself rounding the bouys just ahead of the rest of the fleet.

Contact International Marine, (212) 904-5951.

Ordinary people

turned liveaboards

Austin E. Moorhouse doesn’t sugarcoat it: It took years to make all the preparations needed to take on the liveaboard lifestyle. And once he and his wife, Terri, achieved that dream, they weren’t able to completely cast off from the concerns of everyday life. “This is not an extended vacation, but rather, a change in vocation. We still have all of life’s responsibilities, duties, pleasures, problems and heartaches that go with all other lifestyles,” writes Moorhouse in “Halcyon Days” (Trafford Publishing, 2004, $18.13).

However, the book leaves no doubt as to the pleasures the couple finds in living on their sailboat.

The Moorhouses began with shorter trips, from the Carolinas to Chesapeake Bay, then moved onto their 41-foot Islander Freeport. After three years as liveaboards, they took on a trip to the Bahamas. “Halcyon Days” is a travelogue of those years, written by two people who claim to have begun as ordinary weekend and vacation sailors with no special abilities.

Contact Trafford Publishing, (888) 232-4444.

More than

a disaster book

Sheridan House has released a paperback version of “Titanic Survivor,” by Violet Jessop (September 2004, $13.95), which originally came out in 1997.

Jessop survived the sinkings of both the Titanic and Britannic, which went to the bottom in 1916 after hitting a mine. Despite these two events, Jessop spent the rest of her career working aboard luxury liners.

The book is more than Jessop’s recollections of the two disasters. She also describes her 42 years working aboard these great ships, exotic ports, and the adventures and misadventures of passengers and shipmates.

Contact Sheridan House, Phone: (888) 743-7425.

Not just for kids

or for cat-lovers

Stephen Jones took his time spent in boatyards, and a real cat who lived in one, and turned those experiences into “Scratch the Boatyard Cat.”

The book will clearly appeal to children, but Jones and James A. Mitchell, who does the watercolor illustrations, did not intend the book only for kids. “[It] is intended to introduce inclined readers, young and old, to the characters, terminology, techniques and tools of a real working boatyard,” according to the publisher.

The book certainly incorporates a hold-full of salty terminology. As Scratch learns the ins and outs of the old-fashioned yard, readers also learn how a boatyard operates. Mitchell and Jones based the book on the boatyard in which they’ve worked for more than a dozen years, and on the people and creatures they’ve met there.

Contact Flat Hammock Press, (860) 572-2722.