From Moby-Dick to Master and Commander and The Perfect Storm, books about adventures on the high seas (and their film adaptations) have attracted seasoned sailors and inveterate landlubbers alike. Delivering towering waves and monstrous villains (including ones with giant dorsal fins), these tales follow seafaring heroes who face watery deaths in mercurial conditions.
Kirkus recently reviewed three works examining fictional and real-life figures captaining sea vessels, savoring ocean breezes, and encountering dangers aplenty. In Paul Thomas Fuhrman’s debut historical novel, The Downeaster, which earned the Kirkus Star,Isaac Griffin grapples with financial troubles in 1872. The captain of a downeaster (a medium-size clipper ship carrying cargo) called The Providence, he will soon attempt a journey around Cape Horn. Young Nicholas Priest, suffering from health problems, will join him on the treacherous voyage. The author introduces a third central character, a nurse named Kayleigh MacKenna, in what our reviewer calls “a clever, riveting, and multifaceted tale about sailing, so vivid that readers should taste the salt spray.”
Vincent Miles’ debut biography, The Lost Hero of Cape Cod, explores the life of Capt. Asa Eldridge, who established a speed record in 1854 that still stands. Leaving from New York, Eldridge crossed the Atlantic by sail, docking in Liverpool 13 days later. “An absorbing and comprehensive study of a sea cap tain and place largely forgotten by history,” our critic writes.
In Jake Jacobsen’s debut memoir, Chronicles of a Bering Sea Captain,the Alaskan author recounts his experiences mainly as a crab fisherman, surviving rogue waves, mechanical problems, and oil spills and enjoying the company of gritty characters. Our reviewer calls the volume “an engaging window into an exotic life.” Myra Forsberg is an Indie editor.