At the Nautical Mind, we are pleased to be able to work with Canadian authors and publishers, and to promote books that explore and celebrate Canada’s maritime past and current existence. The Canadian Nautical Research Society is an organization that has the same goal. If you’re a fan of Canadian maritime history, then you’re sure to recognize the names of members like Barry Gough, Marc Milner, Richard Gimblett and Roger Sarty. If you’re an alumnus or former crew of STV St Lawrence II, STV Pathfinder or TS Playfair, then Maurice Smith is a living legend. There are many more members who are actively involved in maritime and nautical research at the global, national and local levels. We at the Nautical Mind would like to recognize the contribution of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, and its past and present members.
Originally established as the Canadian Society for the Promotion of Nautical Research, the Canadian Nautical Research Society was incorporated 25 October 1984 and achieved the status of a registered charity shortly thereafter. “Ties That Bind: the Roots of NASOH and the CNRS” gives some historical background to our early days as seen through the eyes of W.A.B Douglas, one of our founders and a past president of our Society.
The objectives of the Society are:
to promote nautical research in Canada
to disseminate the results of such research
and to encourage an awareness of Canada’s maritime heritage
the Jacques Cartier MA Prize in Maritime Affairs, to encourage graduate students at the Master’s level
the Gerry Panting Award, which is a bursary to a young scholar to attend the annual conference to present a paper, and
annually awards The Keith Matthews Awards — named in honour of the Society’s first President — to recognize outstanding publications in the field of nautical research.
The Nautical Mind’s shelves have hosted a large number of books authored, edited and compiled by CNRS members, including all of those named above. To recognize their contributions, such books are identified on our website. The current line-up of CNRS members’ books available at the store at this link to our website.
The Nautical Mind would like to thank author Kent Layton for this guest blog on the sinking of Lusitania, which occurred on 7 May, 1915. Kent’s new book, Lustania: An Illustrated Biography, will be available in early May.
On May 7, we will mark a full century’s passing since the loss of the Cunard liner Lusitania. On that Friday afternoon one hundred years ago, the east-bound liner happened across the path of a prowling German submarine, the U-20. Her commander fired a single torpedo at her without warning, and the results were nothing short of catastrophic.
It took only eighteen minutes for the ghastly affair to play out. The ship took an immediate list to starboard after the torpedo impact; a second and even larger explosion followed the first. Although its origins are not known precisely, the best evidence indicates the blast was caused by a catastrophic failure in her high-pressure steam-generating plant. Whatever its cause, the ship was already doomed. Because of the list and the speed with which the ship sank, launching the lifeboats became a nightmare scenario, with boat after boat falling from the davits into the sea, and in some cases into other boats which had already been lowered away. When all was said and done, 1,198 innocent men, women and children had perished in the event.
It took a mere eighteen minutes for the Lusitania to plunge to the seafloor, but her legacy has endured for a full century now. Today she is often remembered in the context of a ‘political football’, a pawn in a deadly war; yet in all of the rehashings of political intrigue, something of the actual human drama of that event has been lost, for it is difficult to remember the bodies of actual men, women and children when one is thinking about conspiracy theories.
Also tragic is the fact that the loss of the Lusitania has forever since overshadowed her life. One would think, reading through many histories of the Lusitania, that nothing much of interest happened to her between the time she entered service and took the Blue Riband speed prize as the ‘world’s fastest ship’, and the time she was sent to the bottom in 1915. Yet her life was filled with all sorts of tales of adventure and stories of personal interest.
It is important that we never forget the tragedy suffered by the Lusitania, and the lives lost on that day. It is also important that we remember the great history of that liner’s career in proper context. To my mind, doing both honors the memory of all of those who ever sailed on the Lusitania, including those who were aboard for her ultimate, and most horrific, crossing.
We’re still ironing out kinks and smoothing a few corners on our shiny new site. Following an update yesterday, some things broke in exciting ways. The damage was entirely superficial though – there was no risk to security, data, or stability. If the site appears extra odd to you, please try reloading/refreshing by hitting Ctrl-R or Apple-R or clicking a circley arrow near your browser’s address bar.
The Straight of Georgia, lying between the B.C. coast and Vancouver Island, is home to Canada’s largest seaport and two-thirds of the province’s population, but also a wide diversity of sea life. In essence a large sea, these waters support the world’s densest population of harbour seals, largest concentration of bald eagles, biggest octopus (Pacific giant) and longest marine plant (bull kelp). This book is an exhaustive study of the area, and opens with details on geology, fish and marine life, and concludes with the impact people have had on the area through fishing, logging and other activities. The authors, both scientists who live on Vancouver island, warn that the ecosystem is one of the most threatened in Canada and have written this book for the enjoyment of the general public to connect people with the water and promote stewardship. Royalties from book sales go to the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The writers rely on many other scientists as chapter authors, although the text is fast-flowing and written in plain English without scientific jargon. There are lots of colourful photos, graphics and illustrations.
If you are shopping for a yacht to take bluewater cruising than this is the book for you. Northern California based sailor and marine surveyor Jim Elfers, who has sailed more than 50,000 miles and worked for seven years at a marina in Baja California in Mexico, offers up 20 seaworthy boats that are available for under $50,000 that are worthy of coastal or far-off ocean voyages. The overall boat price was chosen because most people can save up that amount in a few years and head off into the sunset. The book details how to source and buy the ideal cruising yacht and how to deal with yacht brokers and marine surveyors. The list of good boats includes the Niagara 35, Beneteau First 38, Ericson 38, C & C 40, O’Day 39/40, Catalina 36, Canadian Sailcraft 36T, Pearson 36-2, Hunter 37 cutter, Tartan 37, Tayana 37 and the Pearson 40 (honorable mention). Each yacht gets a chapter that details the “good, bad and ugly” about the boat. Okay buyers, warm up those engines and get prepared before you head out on that shopping trip.
British Columbia based author Anthony Dalton, who has written 13 non-fiction books mainly about the sea, ships and boats (The Graveyard of the Pacific, Sir John Franklin, Baychimo: Arctic Ghost Ship), has delved into the life of British explorer Henry Hudson and his four Arctic voyages in search of the elusive Northwest Passage and a trade route to the Orient. Hudson had followed other explorers like John Cabot (1496-98), his son Sebastian Cabot (1509), and Martin Frobisher (1576-78) to find a shorter route to China. The author says Hudson was determined and ambitious and his discoveries of Hudson Bay and many rivers helped to open up North America, but the explorer was also reckless and obsessive, which led to “clouded judgment” and “disastrous choices” that ended in mutiny after his ship became iced in for a winter in the Canadian Arctic in 1610-11. This is the story of the other Henry Hudson that you won’t find in most history books.
Nipissing University history professor Francoise Noel took some time off to research the history of tourism in the area of Lake Nipissing, which is located northeast of Georgian Bay and drains into the Great Lakes basin through the French River. She says the project was sparked by the effect the birth in 1934 of the Dionne quintuplets had on tourism in the area. The author researched the birth extensively and unearthed provincial road maps and other tourism literature that lists details of the Dionne births like the location of the nursery where people could visit, the home town of the doctor who gave birth to the five babies and other details that were designed to bring tourists into northern Ontario. From 1935 to 1943, the trip to Quintland was the most popular motor trip, with over 3 million making the pilgrimage. The research includes the importance of fishing and hunting as a way to draw tourists to nearby towns like North Bay from the 1870s to the early 1950s and the importance of the railways during these early years of travel. Later, the car opened up the area to wilderness seekers and those who wanted to see some pretty remarkable babies.
We would like to thank Sara Lewis, co-creator of the Explorer Chart Book series, for this guest blog. We are so thankful to be cruising the Bahamas again this winter season after missing last year, having sold our boat. Our beloved Saranade has gone to live in Staniel Cay and be enjoyed by the Millers there, while we get to experience cruising on a power catamaran. Miss Agnes is doing nicely with a safe crossing from Florida to Bimini then the short leaps across the Bank to the Berry Islands and through Nassau to the Exumas. Ahhhh! Then we can sigh and relax and slow the pace with staying awhile in our favorite places and visiting friends on land and at sea. Now we are in Salt Pond, Long Island, which is where we began to conceive the idea of doing the Explorer charts.
Initially, we were using Klein’s Yachtsman’s Guide and the BBA Chartkit, both of which were lacking in hydrographic detail. Wanting to go farther afield into lesser known parts, such as the Ragged Islands and Bight of Acklins, we were fortunate to have some older and more salty sailor friends who had been there and pointed out on the topographical maps where we could and couldn’t go with our draft. That knowledge was enhanced by getting together with some of the Long Island fishermen, who also shared their local knowledge of these areas. So we ventured forth and started making notes. Our friends would ask to trace the primitive charts (none of us had copiers aboard back then!) and then began suggesting that we publish what we were charting out for ourselves.
That led to the first iteration—20 placemat charts of the Exumas, which eventually had text added and became the first Explorer Chartbook Exumas and Ragged Islands in 1995. Of course, then we had to cover the rest of the Bahamas, which led to the Explorer Chartbook Near Bahamas (the islands closest to Florida) and the Explorer Chartbook Far Bahamas (the easternmost and southernmost islands). Now the Exumas and the Near Bahamas books are in their 7th editions and the Far Bahamas its 6th. We continue to survey and update both the hydrographic data as well as the Need-to-Know Info for land facilities and services.
We are blessed to be able to share this beautiful country of aquamarine waters, powder blue skies and its lovely people.
Good news everyone: we’ve got a new website. After considered development, we’ve got a whole new way of presenting you with our huge inventory of great nautical books and charts. We’re slowly setting sail, but here are some of the features you can enjoy now:
Simplified check out
Easier account management
Responsive design so it works on iPads, smart phones, and the like
Way faster load times
Better integration with the blog
More pictures of Blue the dog
All while being more secure, stable, and 2015 Web Standards compliant than before. We’ve also got more planned once the dust settled. We hope you like it. Let us know what you think!
Important Note About Accounts
For reasons of practicality and security, we haven’t transferred over accounts from the old site. This means you won’t be able to log in until you re-register your email address, and that your delivery and billing addresses won’t be on file until you re-enter them. Sorry for the inconvenience! Once you’ve entered them, the improved accounts on our new site will also allow you to view all your orders and their statuses.
Once again, we’re pleased to present the book reviews from the January 2015 Ontario Sailor magazine.
Sea Trials By Peter Bourke International Marine Hardcover, 226 pages First-time author Peter Bourke, who was born in London, England and moved as a young boy to Rhode Island with his family, bought a sailboat after his wife’s sudden death — leaving him a single parent with two kids. He tried sailing for the first time in his 40s, and found something that was missing in his life. This book recounts his Atlantic crossing in the 2009 Oldest Singlehanded Trans Atlantic Race (OSTAR) from the U.K. to Rhode Island at the age of 57. The author weaves a sailing narrative of equipment breakdowns, seasickness, canvas problems with a gamut of his raw emotions, from joy and elation to deep sadness. He lays bare his life, including the death of his wife from a seizure, his military service and Vietnam, and what it was like to drop out of his financial career and jump into his 44 ft. yacht and rip across an ocean alone while racing against 31 others. Bourke is on a voyage of personal exploration and discovery, and for readers it’s worth taking the ride with him across the waves.
In the sailing world, Joshua Slocum is a giant. The Nova Scotia-born mariner became the first person to sail solo around the world when he set out in 1895 with only $1.50 in his pocket to accomplish the feat in three years aboard his 36 ft. wooden sloop, Spray. The author, a Canadian East Coast sailor and journalist with a master’s in maritime history from Dalhousie University, digs into Slocum’s mysterious life and disappearance, unearthing troubles both on land and at sea. While working as a sea captain, hauling timber and other goods across oceans, Slocum faced shipwreck, indebtedness, the death of his first wife and some of their children, and the killing of a crew member during an onboard uprising. Slocum’s first wife, Virginia, gave birth to seven of their children, many while living aboard, with only four surviving. Slocum owned five working ships before purchasing a part interest in Northern Light, a three-masted, three-deck, 220 ft. vessel when he was only 36. He faced a mutiny aboard this ship. The book is well researched and illustrated with colourful photos and graphics.
Singlehanded Sailing By Andrew Evans International Marine Softcover, 244 pages A British Columbia-based lawyer and businessman, Andrew Evans sails his Olson 30 out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and often finds himself solo cruising and racing in many contests, including the Singlehanded Transpac across the Pacific Ocean. He has gathered together hundreds of “tips, techniques and tactics” to help others who by choice or chance find themselves shorthanded while onboard. He details ways to set up the boat for fewer hands, how to leave the dock (and how not to do it), handle sails, steering (log live the bungee!) and improve boat speed, power generation and many other topics. Evans admits to hitting rocks, shredding spinnakers and cracking hulls, but says he’s never had a bad day on the water. His heroes are Brit Ellen MacArthur, who set a record for fastest solo circumnavigation in 2005, and solo racer and fellow Brit Robin Knox-Johnston. The book offers lots of black/white photos and graphics to assist the reader.
The Ship of the Line: A History in Ship Models brings together Lavery’s strengths, and the strengths of the National Maritime Museum’s ship-model collection. Ship-models were an important tool for shipbuilding in the early modern period. By the 17th century, ship-models were being used to show craftsmen the design to build to, at a period when few would be able to understand written or drawn architectural plans. Lavery uses these constructor’s or Navy Board ship models to illustrate the physical and materiel development in English naval ship-building from prior to 1652 and the origins of the ‘ship of the line’, to the long peace following the Napoleonic Wars. Including many fantastic photos of the models, the book strikes a great balance between narrative, conceptual discussion, analysis of specific ships, but also between the developments of shipbuilding, and the developments in the use and creation of ship-models themselves. At 128 pages, the book averages greater than illustration or picture per page.
Ship models are an incredible source for historians to study the development of shipbuilding and design in a period where other sorts of documentation are difficult to come by. In this book Lavery uses them to great effect to discuss the developments in English warship design and construction during the age of sail.