Mike Plant movie doesn’t tell whole story

January 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

Reviewed by Molly Mulhern For Points East Coyote: The Mike Plant Story Sparkplug Films LLC 2017, director Thomas M. Simmons, runtime 105 minutes. Stars, among others, Mike Plant (archival footage), Philippe Jeantot (French solo sailor), Ken Read (president of North Sails), Herb McCormick (executive editor of “Cruising World”), Billy Black (marine photographer), Mary Plant (Mike’s mother), Rodger Martin (Coyote’s designer), and Helen Davis (Mike’s fiancée). I am blessed to live in a small coastal Maine town with a tight little harbor and a vibrant community of sailors. Many of us settled here for the easy access to cruising grounds, a watery world at our door that never ceases to satisfy our sailorly souls. In summers, we exchange pleasantries on theRead More

Less about the voyage; more about the man

September 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

A Man for All Oceans By Stan Grayson, Tilbury House Publishers and New Bedford Whaling Museum 2017, 399 pp. $29.95. Joshua Slocum was a rock star in – and after – his time. Since 1900, his book has never been out of publication, and there have been at least 25 separate editions of “Sailing Alone Around the World,” in which he recounts his three-year circumnavigation in an engineless sailboat. He is every sailor’s hero – independent, highly skilled, brave beyond belief, tough, enigmatic, and resourceful. Now we have yet another Slocum book, but this one less about what he did than who he was and why his story resonated. In “A Man for All Oceans,” Stan Grayson drills deep intoRead More

Humor, beauty, from the keyboard of a friend

August 28, 2017 at 12:00 am

The Sea is Not Full: Ocean Sailing Revelations & Misadventures By Charles J. Doane, Seapoint Books, 2017; 437 pp., $17.62. Reviewed by Bob Muggleston For Points East One of the things I’ve always loved about sailing literature, beyond the purity of escape it so frequently provides, is how often the narrator seems like a friend. It might have something to do with the universality of the sailing experience. Yes, technology has changed the game over the years, but the game itself remains essentially the same. Points of sail, weather, the hydrodynamics of a boat moving through water – this stuff doesn’t change much, and it’s amazing how a familiar voice describing these things in a compelling way can seem likeRead More

It’s not all misery at the Horn; just mostly

July 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

The Cape Horners’ Club By Adrian Flanagan, Adlard Coles Nautical, 2017; 295 pp., $27. Reviewed by Sandy Marsters For Points East When my wife and I acquired our first big sailboat, we always made sure we had a Big Gulp of ice water at the helm when departing or arriving at the dock. We knew the anxiety would parch us speechless. Clearly, we are not candidates, nor will we ever be, for the Cape Horners’ Club, which is why we are not mentioned in the eponymous book by Adrian Flanagan. Really, it’s a very small club of very brave sailors. After all, who would invite such misery, fear and discomfort into their lives? Excluding gold-rushers heading for California aboard clippersRead More

Survival book asks much of reader’s honesty

June 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

A Speck in the Sea by John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski; Hachette Book Group, 2017, 247 pp., hardcover $18-20, ebook $14. Reviewed by Sandy Marsters For Points East I wonder what it is about us that makes us ignore internal dialogue, often at our peril. Why do we shush that little voice that says, “Bad idea. Bad plan. Danger, danger. Don’t do what you are about to do, or stop what you are already doing – immediately.” I know a guy who just this spring was fishing on a lake with his brother and son, in the brother’s brand-new 20-horsepower 16-foot aluminum boat. This function-specific craft is set up with three pedestal seats that can be mounted in three holesRead More

Carter’s Salty Bard pirate poetry project

May 22, 2017 at 12:00 am

The Salty Bard: Up in Smoke By Craig Parmelee Carter, BeachWrites ( 2017, 48 pp., paperback $8.95, Kindle edition $3.99. Reviewed by Nim Marsh For Points East I enjoy poetry of the sea. Within arm’s reach of my desk is a copy of John Masefield’s “Salt Water Poems and Ballads.” At those times when deadlines hang heavily over my head, or when the ever-recalcitrant computer is acting out, it’s oddly soothing to turn to “Sing a Song o’ Shipwreck” or “Cape Horn Gospel II” while savoring the accompanying Chas. Pears illustrations. Fetching Along columnist David Buckman periodically responds to my email messages in haiku-like doggerel – not as disciplined as the “five-seven-five” syllabic structure, but every bit as economical, caringRead More

Inspirational boats

April 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

Notable Boats: Small Craft, Many Adventures By Nic Compton, with illustrations by Peter Scott, The Ivy Press Limited 2016, 160 pp., $29.95 (hardcover). Reviewed by Bob Muggleston For Points East From the “Oxford English Reference Dictionary”: notable/ adj. worthy of note; striking, remarkable, eminent. All sailors have a short list of boats they love. In “Notable Boats: Small Craft, Many Adventures,” British boating writer and editor Nic Compton presents his, in the form of a lovely illustrated coffee-table book. Inside are 36 boats – both real and fictional – that over the years have inspired him, and that one might, but any standard, consider “notable.” But, of course, there are so many boats, each with their individual stories and accomplishments.Read More

A desperate voyage

April 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

Desperate Voyage: Donald Crowhurst, The London Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, and the Tragedy of the Teignmouth Electron By Edward Renehan, New Street Communications, LLC 2016, 112 pp., $9.95. By Bob Muggleston For Points East In the annals of sailing, there is one story that, as presented by two British writers in “The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst,” stands out for its haunting quality. For those not familiar with Donald Crowhurst, in 1968 this weekend sailor/family man decided to enter the first circumnavigation race ever, rounding all three capes, aboard a flimsy wooden trimaran. Crowhurst was woefully underprepared and underfunded. He was, in some ways, brilliant, but not necessarily street-smart. He was incredibly complicated. What resulted was tragic andRead More

Man, octopus are evolutionary control freaks

March 13, 2017 at 12:01 am

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness By Peter Godfrey-Smith. Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2016. 257 pp., $27. Reviewed by Sandy Marsters For Points East Well, calamari’s off the table now. Paella too. And some of that sushi you crave as well. Turns out that octopus and other cephalopods are kind of distant cousins to humans, from an evolutionary point of view, according to a fascinating new book by Peter Godfrey-Smith, “Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.” The octopus exhibits the characteristics we love in our pets and kids: Cute, clever, curious, mischievous, moody, even a little cuddly.  An octopus that is annoyed by light will figure out howRead More

Horror in a tunnel

November 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Here’s a gripping tale that that is unfortunately very true. It’s a story that mixes high drama, tragedy, rotten luck, stupidity, cowardice, litigiosity, incompetence (on a grand scale), hubris, greed, carelessness, and grief with courage, luck, and a ton more grief.