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  • Nautical Book Project: Volunteers Needed

    Posted by David Foster on June 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Who wants to sign up to do a review of:

    1) One or more Joseph Conrad nautically-themed novels?

    2) Moby Dick?

    3) The Aubrey-Maturin series (either the series as a whole, or the early books)?

    4) Other?

    Ones I’m planning to do myself are White Jacket (Melville), The Hornblower Series (at least the early ones), and The Cruel Coast.

    Michael Kennedy, with your considerable sailing experience I hope you’ll sign up to do at least one review for this series.

     

    27 Responses to “Nautical Book Project: Volunteers Needed”

    1. Will Says:

      Don’t know if I could “write a review” but would love to follow along with the project. I was reading Moby Dick every five years or so, and will probably continue that…the story set in my old home town. I prefer Typee and Oomo though, and kind of tired of him with White Jacket. Never read the Hornblower books, but would like to. Conrad interests me as well.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      I just read Conrad’s Nostromo. It’s not especially nautically themed, though there are nautical elements in it.

    3. MikeK Says:

      Sure. I had tried to post a list of sailing books but the gremlins got it both tries. I’ve read every Hornblower book multiple times.

    4. David Foster Says:

      Mike, want to pick something for starters?

    5. MikeK Says:

      Here’s one.

      10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
      Authentic sailing fiction, a rare treat
      By Michael T Kennedy VINE VOICE on February 1, 1999
      Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
      It is a shame this book is out of print. Good modern sailing fiction is rare. The protagonist knows sailboats and carries out his revenge in an exciting and, more importantly, plausable tale. The book is a little dated in its treatment of the Iranians (It was written when the Shah ruled) but its best quality is its authenticity. A great read for sailors. Why must we go back to the 1800s for good sailing fiction ?

      That is one of mine from Amazon. Is that what you want ? More detail ?

      Another

      4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sailing novels ever written, November 30, 2007
      By Michael T Kennedy (Laguna Niguel, CA USA) – See all my reviews
      (VINE VOICE)

      This review is from: Overboard (Mass Market Paperback)
      I think I previously wrote a review of this book but it seems to have vanished. It is a favorite of mine although a bit dated. The story is of a cruising couple who sail through the south Pacific until the wife falls overboard. The story is actually told in flashback as her husband is retracing their course, trying to find her. It is authentic as the author lives aboard his sailboat and knows whereof he speaks. Good novels about modern sailing are extremely rare and this is one of the few. One character who appears in the novel is Bernard Moitessier, a famous French sailor who had circumnavigated several times. He is fictionalized but recognizable. His story is here: [...] If you like sailing and are looking for a novel on that theme, read this one.

    6. Gary Snodgrass Says:

      I would like to suggest you think about reviewing “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Dana. This book captures the life at sea from a sailors point of view, not an officers. Another great one is “Gray Seas Under” By Farley Mowatt. I served in the USCG for 23 years. Ten of them aboard cutters. These two books were the strongest examples of what life as a sailor was really like. The excitement, adventure, and the romance of the sea intermixed with the day to day drudgery.

    7. David Foster Says:

      Mike…I was thinking of something a little longer, ideally with a few excerpts from the book to give a sense of what the author’s writing style is like, but whatever you’re comfortable with.

      Gary…if you want to take a whack at “Two Years Before the Mast” and send to to me, I’ll post it here. My email is:

      (((photoncourier)))

      (((at)))

      (((yahoo)))

      (((dot)))

      (((com)))

      …obviously without the parentheses and with the (((at))) replaced by the symbol. Look forward to seeing it.

    8. PenGun Says:

      I wouldn’t mind going over Hornblower again. A complicated hero if ever there was one.

    9. MikeK Says:

      Sure, it would be a good excuse to read them again. I reread old novels I like every few years. Another one I finished rereading today is mixed sailing and engineering. It is Neville Shute’s “Trustee from the Toolroom.”

      It is shamelessly romantic in an adventure sense. A few have criticized it as having to many coincidences but it was published after his death and is one of those books that I read to feel better.

      As far as “Two Years Before the Mast” is concerned, be aware that there is a sequel called “24 years after” when Dana returns to California after the gold rush. That is also very interesting.

    10. MikeK Says:

      OK Here is a start.

      “Trustee from the Toolroom,” which was published in 1960 after the author’s death, is Neville Shute’s last novel. It combines two themes from his life. He was an engineer and had a hobby of building model machinery and steam engines. He was also a sailor who owned his own yacht before the war, sailing it around the Channel. Another of his novels has a sailing theme in which a family flees the Blitz in their sailboat.

      Keith Stewart is a man who spent the war as a “fitter” or machinist in industry. He comes from a background of poverty as a child in Scotland. He has one sister who has bettered herself by marrying an officer in the Royal Navy after a career in the theater. Keith lives in West Ealing, a frequent Shute setting where he lived himself as a boy, and earns his living as a writer for a magazine about model building called “Miniature Mechanic.” He has been doing this since the war, about 12 years. His work, while widely known among model builders around the world, yields a rather poor income and his wife Katie works to help out.

      His sister contacts him for help with a project she is planning with her husband. He has been retired from the Navy rather early as he is not one for the new contracted British navy in post war England. He and his wife have decided to emigrate to Canada and start anew. They have two requests of Keith and his wife Katie. They have a nine year old daughter who they wish to entrust to Keith and Katie during their trip which they plan to make in a small sailboat. Keith and Katie have never had children of their own. The second request is for Keith to help them secrete a jewel box in the keel of the sailboat. The box is described as containing a few jewels but, in fact, it contains their life savings converted to diamonds as Britain has currency rules that do not allow British subjects to take any money or valuables out of the country. They are planning to smuggle the jewels to Canada to aid in beginning their new life.

      They have made Keith the trustee of their estate, as well as of their daughter. The husband’s family is wealthy and of noble status but they do not want the daughter to be part of that life, even for six months or so. They set off for Canada by way of Tahiti which Jo, the wife, has always wanted to see. The description of the trip is quite good and they encounter a late season hurricane near the Tuamoto Archipelago , in those days a remote and dangerous collection of 78 small islands, many of which are nearly at sea level and, before GPS, very hazardous to encounter in a boat, large or small.

      Their small yacht is wrecked. They are both drowned and Keith learns of this from the family solicitor. He also learns that there is no money in their estate. They have sold all their stocks and bought diamonds from a dealer who was a junior office to the husband in the war. Keith realizes that the jewel box is the location of all they possessed and is informed of the legal situation by the solicitor. Now, he has to consider what to do. The result is an improbable but heart warming adventure. He has no money and must do the best he can to find the wrecked yacht 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world. The story of his adventure is a great sailing yarn and one that reminds us that there are people of goodwill still in the world.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Michael K….yes, whenever you’re ready please go ahead & post it, with Nautical Book Review in the title…you might expand a little on the sailing aspect of it if you can do so without too many spoilers. Thanks.

    12. MikeK Says:

      Nautical Book Review

      “Trustee from the Toolroom,” which was published in 1960 after the author’s death, is Neville Shute’s last novel. It combines two themes from his life. He was an engineer and had a hobby of building model machinery and steam engines. He was also a sailor who owned his own yacht before the war, sailing it around the Channel. Another of his novels has a sailing theme in which a family flees the Blitz in their sailboat.

      Keith Stewart is a man who spent the war as a “fitter” or machinist in industry. He comes from a background of poverty as a child in Scotland. He has one sister who has bettered herself by marrying an officer in the Royal Navy after a career in the theater. Keith lives in West Ealing, a frequent Shute setting where he lived himself as a boy, and earns his living as a writer for a magazine about model building called “Miniature Mechanic.” He has been doing this since the war, about 12 years. His work, while widely known among model builders around the world, yields a rather poor income and his wife Katie works to help out.

      His sister contacts him for help with a project she is planning with her husband. He has been retired from the Navy rather early as he is not one for the new contracted British navy in post war England. He and his wife have decided to emigrate to Canada and start anew. They have two requests of Keith and his wife Katie. They have a nine year old daughter who they wish to entrust to Keith and Katie during their trip which they plan to make in a small sailboat. Keith and Katie have never had children of their own. The second request is for Keith to help them secrete a jewel box in the keel of the sailboat. The box is described as containing a few jewels but, in fact, it contains their life savings converted to diamonds as Britain has currency rules that do not allow British subjects to take any money or valuables out of the country. They are planning to smuggle the jewels to Canada to aid in beginning their new life.

      They have made Keith the trustee of their estate, as well as of their daughter. The husband’s family is wealthy and of noble status but they do not want the daughter to be part of that life, even for six months or so. They set off for Canada by way of Tahiti which Jo, the wife, has always wanted to see. The description of the trip is quite good and they encounter a late season hurricane near the Tuamoto Archipelago , in those days a remote and dangerous collection of 78 small islands, many of which are nearly at sea level and, before GPS, very hazardous to encounter in a boat, large or small.

      Their small yacht is wrecked. They are both drowned and Keith learns of this from the family solicitor. He also learns that there is no money in their estate. They have sold all their stocks and bought diamonds from a dealer who was a junior office to the husband in the war. Keith realizes that the jewel box is the location of all they possessed and is informed of the legal situation by the solicitor. Now, he has to consider what to do. The result is an improbable but heart warming adventure. He has no money and must do the best he can to find the wrecked yacht 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world. The story of his adventure is a great sailing yarn and one that reminds us that there are people of goodwill still in the world.

      He links up with an illiterate sailor who has sailed a fishing boat to Hawaii by following the airplanes, which in 1957 could only stop in Hawaii. They sail to Papeete in Tahiti while Keith learns sailing and gets over his initial sea sickness. I find that I am subject to sea sickness until I have spent several days at sea. The account of their trip complements the account of his sister and her husband before the hurricane. Both are accurate and interesting accounts of small boat sailing offshore. I have even been through a small hurricane in a small boat and the description is accurate.

      The sailing parts are authentic and interesting.

    13. MikeK Says:

      Do you also want non-fiction reviews ?

    14. MikeK Says:

      Nautical book project.

      The Shipkiller by Justin Scott.

      This is a great adventure novel that is marred only by the fact that it was written 35 years ago when the Shah of Iran was still in power. The story is of Peter Hardin, a doctor who has invented the digital thermometer. He has retired and he and his wife have decided to sail their ketch across the Atlantic to England. They are relaxing on a sunny afternoon in the Western Approaches to the Channel when their yacht is run down by a monstrous tanker called “Leviathan” which is enormous and is run recklessly because it carries millions of gallons of crude oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe. The captain is impervious to criticism because no one else can sail this enormous ship. He and it are above the law.

      Hardin’s wife, Carolyn is lost and he washes up on the beach of southern England where he is found and revived by a beautiful Nigerian woman doctor. He is disconsolate and decides to try to prosecute the captain for not maintaining a lookout while running his ship too fast in restricted waters. That fails and Hardin eventually tries to physically attack the captain which gets him arrested. He finally comes to the conclusion that he has no alternative to attacking the ship, itself.

      He recovers from his injuries and buys a Swan 38, a gorgeous and fast yacht similar to the one I sailed through a hurricane in 1977. It is fast as a witch and will withstand most heavy weather. He sails it to Europe and buys a Dragon anti-tank missile from an alcoholic soldier in Germany. He conceals the missile in a pod he has constructed and attached to the keel of his yacht. He returns to England and plans to follow Leviathan to the Cape of Good Hope at the bottom of South Africa where he will kill it with the missile.

      An Israeli agent learns of his plan and offers to help with the location of the tanker. The Nigerian doctor, the daughter of an senior army officer in Nigerian, asks to go with him as far as west Africa and he agrees. They develop an attraction during the voyage and she learns of his obsessions with the tanker. As they near the point where he must drop her off, she finds the missile and wants to go with him.

      The story is gripping and will hold the attention of anyone familiar with sailing. It is probably the best sailing novel I have read. The detail is excellent and the plot is well done, although dated. The author knows sailing and fast sailboats. It has a bit of the tone of an Alistair MacLean novel where the protagonist overcomes repeated and monumental obstacles. The sailing part is great.

    15. David Foster Says:

      Mike K…want to post these as top-level posts?

    16. Ed Says:

      An author I don’t think anyone mentioned is David Poyer,. He wrote a number of books in which the central character (Dan Lenson) is an officer in the USN, set in the last few decades (not Napoleonic era).

      Poyer was a serving officer himself, so his portrayal rings true.

      Looking at his web page,

      http://www.davidpoyer.com,

      he actually has several series, but the Dan Lenson series is the one in my local library branch carries. Actually, now that I’ve looked, there are a LOT I haven’t read…

      I’d review, but have a code release coming up, so no time :-(

    17. MikeK Says:

      David, how do you do that ? Just individual posts ?

      I’m going to read Overboard again as it has been a few years.

      Are you interested in non-fiction books in this series ? One good one is the book about sailing by British PM Ted Heath. He was a “wet” as PM but a real hard core sailor. He won the Sydney-Hobart Race in a 34 footer. Larry Ellison almost lost his life in a 98 footer a few years back.

    18. David Foster Says:

      Yes, I’m thinking individual posts, with the “Nautical Book Review” phrase in the title. Also let’s tie them together somehow, either by linking each one to the previous one, or by getting Jonathan to create a new keyword, or both.

      I think NF books should count if they are novelistic in their readability…for example, sooner or later I’d like to review “I Remember the Tall Ships,” a very vivid memoir (though it could use a better title) by a guy who was a sailor in the last days of commerical sail.

    19. Jonathan Says:

      I created a new blog category for this project.

    20. Anonymous Says:

      Nautical Books?

      Captain Frederick Marryat ‘s Mister Midshipman Easy

      C Northcote Parkinson’s Biography of Horatio Hornblower
      Also his Richard Delancey novels

      Dudley Pope’s Ramage series
      Also his non fiction Decision at Trafalgar, The Black Ship and at Twelve Mr Byng Was Shot

      Douglas Reeman many many novels and his Richard Bolitho novels ( Napoleonic Naval Warfare)

      Alexander Maclean, HMS Ulysses
      There are man, many others

      Allen S

    21. AllenS Says:

      I should also mention F.van wick Mason’s The Manila Galleon, based upon Anson’s epic expedition to the Pacific in 1730 during the War of Jenkin’s Ear.

      AllenS

    22. AllenS Says:

      Correction 1740, not 1730.

    23. Vader Says:

      I rather liked The Cruel Sea but don’t know if my review talents are up to the task.

      I find my lack of faith disturbing.

    24. David Foster Says:

      New blog category: Thanks, Jonathan!

    25. Mark Lintz Says:

      Though I have read Moby Dick and the Pat O’Brian books, to include the hand-written final one, I deny having any review capabilities.

      Another commenter has already mentioned the Dudley Poe books, but no one has yet mentioned the Richard Woodman books.

      I look forward to the results.

    26. MikeK Says:

      If non-fiction is OK, I will reread the Heath book and Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone Around the World,” one of the all-time great classics I have read many times.

    27. David Foster Says:

      MK…sounds good!