Lit Bits

DICK CARTER ISN'T DEAD YET: And He's Written a Book to Prove It

Dick Carter

This was a rumor that may have started on a Dick Carter fanboy thread on Sailing Anarchy a few years back: that Carter, one of the leading designers during the IOR era back in the 1970s, had sadly passed away. Even people active in the thread who’d once been close to Carter--like Bob Perry and Yves-Marie Tanton, who both designed boats with him back in the day--were in no position to deny this and so accepted it as fact. You can imagine then how surprised Tanton was when he ran into Dick Carter in Newport, at a memorial service for Ted Hood, in 2013.

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TIN CANOES & OTHER MADNESS: The Genius of Robb White

Robb White

How could I have lived so long without discovering this man? He is such an improbably entertaining writer, and all he wrote about, pretty much, is boats, the water surrounding them, and the life that is in it. Hats off to crew member (and erstwhile Boréal shopper) Nat Smith, who handed me a copy of White’s first book, the only one published in his lifetime, How to Build a Tin Canoe (Hyperion/Theia, 2003), and promised me I would like it.

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SHAKEDOWN CRUISE: Nigel Calder's First Cruising Narrative

Book cover

I’m feeling some vindication here. Several years ago when I was Nigel Calder’s regular editor at SAIL Magazine he told me the story of the first time he ever went sailing with Terrie, his future wife. To impress her he’d suggested they borrow (without permission) a small wooden boat that belonged to his brother and take off on a cruise together. She suggested they sail across the English Channel to Amsterdam (they were in the UK at the time) and he readily agreed, though he had little idea what he was doing. Terrie temporarily jumped ship once they got there (to visit with another boyfriend), and on the way back they got run down by a ship.

On hearing all this I immediately suggested that Nigel should write it up for the magazine, but he demurred. Though he’d built up an enormous reputation as the marine industry’s most popular technical writer, he told me he didn’t really feel comfortable writing a simple narrative. And now here we have an entire book of it: the (mostly) unvarnished tale of Nigel’s early days as a bluewater cruiser.

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ROUND BARBADOS MEMORIES: The Most Fun Race I Ever Sailed

race start

I have studied with some interest the results of the most recent running of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, which this year boasted a record-breaking seven race records broken. I was amused too to see that it was billed as the 82nd running of the event. A deft bit of marketing I reckon, as the race, in its current form, was but two years old when I sailed it in 2012. At that time it purported to be a reincarnation of a much older round-island competition amongst trading schooners that dated back to the 19th century. Tradition has it the consolation prize for the last boat to finish was a barrel of Mount Gay rum, and that skippers loitered about the course for days attempting to win it. The first recorded round-island race, in 1936, was between five schooners. The winner was Sea Fox, which belonged to a New England rum smuggler, Lou Kennedy, who allegedly, when sailing on the Maine coast, would amuse himself by spiking lobster pots with bottles of Mount Gay.

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