I was reading with delight an article from my favorite magazine Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors. I subscribe to a number of boat related journals, as well several journals devoted to Archaeology, and History, but I think my favorite is MB,H,&H. There are several reasons that I look forward to the arrival of each issue, one is clearly the subject matter, but the writing is another. Editor Peter H. Spectre writes with a perceptive and dry Yankee wit that borders on the caustic. I look forward to his column “In the Lee of the Boathouse” and read it before I read anything else (see his blog Compass Rose Review). The clean layout and design are also reasons that I enjoy reading this magazine cover to cover. I find it refreshing, to pick up a magazine where one can actually find the contents and can tell, at a glance, the articles from the advertisements.
          In the current issue, writer John Andrews writes about “Three Reference Books for Sailors”. In the first paragraph of his piece I particularly liked a line wherein he describes cruising as;”…a personal affliction, ruinously self-indulgent and wantonly aesthetic”.
          All three of the books he champions are terrific choices: Sailing:A Sailor’s Dictionary by Henry Beard and Roy McKie, Maine Lingo by John Gould (a former contributor to the M,B,H,&H and a former Friendship Slooper) and the Sea Scout Manual By Carl Lane (He has the 1939 edition, my copy is the 1940). While it is always fun for me to see which books make it onto some one else’s “best”, or “must have” list, it is the actual writing and reasoning of the article that I find so enjoyable and typical of this magazine. I will not give a synopsis here check out the original for yourself.
          Mr. Andrews’s article inspired me to list some of my own reference favorites here.
          From the perspective of a boat owner my three favorite reference books are:
          How to Build a Wooden Boat by David “Bud” McIntosh beautifully illustrated by Sam Manning, The Sailmaker’s Apprentice by Emiliano Marino, again a beautifully illustrated book, this time by Christine Erikson, and The Rigger’s Apprentice by Brion Toss.
          In the category of sea stories, I have voyaged with writers like C.S. Forester, Conrad, Marryat, and newer writers to the genre like Dudley Pope, and Alexander Kent to name just a few, but for story telling and use of language, I think that the Jack Aubrey series by Patrick O’Brian is the best. If what you are looking for is the 18th C equivalent of a Bruce Willis movie, then I doubt these books would appeal to you. However, as a writer of dialog, for character development, and for ability as a storyteller, I put Patrick O’Brian head and shoulders above the rest. I go back and re-read books from the series from time to time because Jack and Steven feel like old friends and each read is like a field trip to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
          For boat related periodicals, I have read WoodenBoat since the late 1970s and am still a devote, even though the magazine has changed over the years, and I repeat that my favorite magazine is Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors, always an enjoyable read.


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