Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ship's Log

Ship's logs began as a way for captains to record the distances and directions they traveled. It didn't take long for captains and ordinary sailors to keep their own journals describing their adventures. Christopher Columbus's log book is lost to history but would certainly be priceless today. Captain Cook's log of the Endeavor was must reading in England at the end of the Eighteenth Century. Ship journals were, for me, the perfect intersection between travel and fascination with the sea. Here's a very miscellaneous list.

1. The Nagle Journal: A Diary of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor from the year 1775 to 1841 (1988). Nagle joined the British Navy at the time of the American Revolution and served in American waters, later fought with Commodore Nelson's fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. His adventures took him to India, China and Australia. He died peacefully at the age of 80 in Canton, Ohio. Excellent color plates illustrating the era Nagle served. Bought used but can't remember where. 

2. The Melville Log: A Documentary Life of Herman Melville: 1819 - 1891, Jay Leyda (1951). Herman Melville's biography represented in a logbook form. Dense and detailed. Haven't read this one yet but it may be for Melville fanatics. Bought used somewhere. 

3. Sailing alone around the world: And Voyage of the Liberdade (The Mariners library) byJoshua Slocum Hart-Davis (1967). Slocum was the first person to single-handedly sail around the world. Based on his journal. Bought used at an Alexandria, Virginia Library book sale. 

4. New Worlds Ahead: Firsthand Accounts of English Voyages,
edited by John Hampden (1968).
Fourteen samples of the great
and lesser know voyages. Includes excerpts from Sebastion Cabot, Sir Francis Drake, WIlliam Bradford to anonymous accounts of voyages to tidewater Virginia. Bought used at the State
Department Bookstore. 

5. The Log of the Centurian, Leo Heaps (1973).   Based on the Captain Philip Saumarez on board the HMS Centurian, Lord Anson's flagship during his circumnavigation 1740-44. A combination military expedition and raid on Spanish ships in the Pacific, Saumarez recorded this adventurous voyage. Color plates and heavy stock paper make it a peac of art. Bought used at the Raven Book Store, Amherst, MA.

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