First Graf: The Lore Of Sail


THE MARITIME SECTION OF MY home library is, like a captain’s yacht, small but well-appointed. I’ve been a ship geek since 1987-88, when I served as a deckhand/docent on a replica of the Golden Hinde, and my taste tends toward the practical: knots, rules of the road, sea survival, Bluejackets’ Manual, even a 1955 Watch Officer’s Guide published at Annapolis. One book whose slim size belies its comprehensivity is more theoretical and historical: I refer to the excellent 1982 volume The Lore Of Sail.

LoS’ 256 pages are divided into four sections plus index: The Hull, Spars and Rigging, The Sail, and Navigation and Ship-handling. Each is a well-illustrated guide to the historical evolution of ships from ancient Egypt to modern Europe. Its size makes it perfect for backpack or peacoat pocket while browsing the world’s great maritime museums or rigged ships, but it’s also museum-like in scope and scale. From the Introduction by Captain Sam Svensson:

From ancient times, sailing the seas has been a unique profession, with techniques and methods which have always puzzled the landlubber. One thousand years before Christ, Solomon said that the way of a ship in the midst of the sea was too wonderful for him to understand.

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