Category

Lit Bits

Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

Editor's note: Recent developments in Libya and the ongoing piracy crisis in Somalia have sparked a revival of historical interest in the early 19th century U.S. war against the Barbary pirates. What follows is a recently discovered eyewitness account of certain celebrated events that took place in 1803-04. AYE, Scurvy's me name. Lieutenant Scurvy Bastard,...
I ARRIVED IN THE AZORES aboard Crazy Horse, my Alberg 35 yawl, in late August of 1995 already feeling kind of nervous about the hurricane situation. Earlier that summer I was caught in a tropical storm named Chantal while en route to Bermuda, and since then several other North Atlantic storms had chewed their way...
Often the best books are those you discover entirely at random, browsing through some forgotten shelf somewhere. It is one important reason why shopping at Amazon will never be like shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store. At Amazon you need to search for something intentionally. Or maybe their fancy consumer algorithm will suggest some new title...
I've had great fun watching (and rewatching) this trailer for 2010: Moby Dick, a hilariously updated movie version of Herman Melville's classic 19th century novel, due to be released later this month. Except for the fact the setting is absolutely contemporary--e.g., Ahab drives a submarine armed with nuclear weapons and the whale is inclined to...
I meant to post something about this amazing video Hold Fast when I first found it, but it's quite long (over an hour), particularly for something put up for free at Vimeo. I've now watched it twice. I'm sticking it here in the Lit Bits category, because it rises to that level. This isn't some...
I ran into Chuck Paine at the Newport show last Thursday and bought from him a copy of his new tome, My Yacht Designs and the Lessons They Taught Me. A s soon as I got home, I spent a good hour soaking up the luscious color photos of his more famous boats, as well...
These days voyaging south down the U.S. East Coast via the Intracoastal Waterway is so commonplace as to be cliché. Literally thousands of cruisers now make the pilgrimage annually. Calling themselves “snowbirds,” they ply the murky waters of the ICW in all manner of vessels, both power and sail, and pride themselves on the tobacco-colored...
FROM AN EARLY AGE it was this image in particular, by artist Rockwell Kent, and a few others like it, that were pressed into my mind as nearly Jungian archetypes of what a life afloat must be like. There were several of Kent's dynamic high-contrast wood-block prints hanging about our house while I was growing...
Before Joshua Slocum could become the man we remember today--the one who invented bluewater cruising by sailing around the world singlehanded in a rebuilt oyster smack named Spray--his prior life first had to be unmade. Identifying such turning points is sometimes an arbitrary business, but in Slocum’s case there is little doubt about when his...
Of all the deities we sailors must cope with while messing around on our boats none are more ravenous than the dreaded Bilge Gods. As long as there have been bilges on boats, these bogeymen have been lurking down there, waiting patiently to consume any Very Important Object an innocent mariner might temporarily hold in...
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