As the Memorial Day weekend ends and summer starts, it’s a good time to remember all the mariners
Now that the unofficial start of summer has begun, it’s time to think about large bodies of water if you aren’t already doing so. You might like to sit next to water, swim in it, float in it, or admire it from a distance. On a more serious note than summer fun, we just celebrated National Maritime Day on May 22, which honors all of the brave sailors, including the Merchant Marines, who put their lives at risk. The day is also a celebration at ports and harbors across the country.
Professional and amateur mariners and adventurers have been crossing oceans and seas ever since humans stood on the shore and wondered at what was on the other side of all that distance. We think they build their boats out of papyrus in Egypt and from balsa wood logs in South America.
If you like your boats on the small side, Dover has interesting books on how to build model versions of the real thing as well the full-sized version that can take you on your journey.
The art of the sea is also well-represented in the Dover collection, including lovely stained-glass designs that evoke the wind and water as well as the creatures both above and below the waves.
Another kind of nautical art is the elaborate knots used to keep boats and ships functioning. The rope, one of the basic of technologies, is indispensable. Knots make riggings and are part of the pulley system that raises sails. Knots also form hammocks for slumber below deck on long voyages. Dover has more than one book on knots and riggings.
The history of sea and seafaring is also the story of conquest and exploration, often with bad results on both sides. America’s own 50th state, Hawaii, was the place of Captain Cook’s end, possibly at the hands of King Kamehameha — although the king stated publicly that he wasn’t there and didn’t have anything to do with it.
If you want to get away from it all, a solo voyage can’t be beat. But it does take a special sort of person to face the vasty deep alone. Captain Slocum was just such a person, and his account, Sailing Alone Around the World, is among the first popular books on the subject.
But there’s nothing like coming home, and what means home more than a lighthouse, that beacon of safety and friendliness? When you’re ready to head back to shore, collect your nets and knots, and settle down for quality time on dry land, there’s a coloring book or two for that as well, and even a build-it-yourself seaport town.
Home is the sailor, home from sea.