Gone to the Sea|
Paradise Cay Publications, Inc., 314 pp, $16.95
Being a girl whose favorite sail boat ever is a Beetle Cat and whose sailing world is a cove on the Maine coast, Herb McCormick's universe is totally surreal. He has sailed with the most famous, richest, winning-est owners and skippers in the sport on the biggest, the fastest, the most expensive and most advanced design sailboats in the world. And he gets paid to write about the experience... he's been on this sweet gig for years.
It's about time his work was anthologized! Gone to The Sea contains a broad selection of McCormick's assignments from the major publications in the field as well several he produced while doing a stint at The New York Times. Cleverly organized in three sections "Faces, Places," and "Races", the articles included cover McCormick's career from 1993 (Solo Sailor, Mike Plant's Last Voyage) to 2010 ("Good Morning, Georgetown" --the epic Bahamian cruiser's rendezvous.)
Faces is a collection of profiles of most of accomplished racers like Dennis Connor, venerable boat builders like Frank Butler, niche players like restorer Bob Tiedemann, as well as entrepreneur, Jimmy Cornell and just plain rich people who sail. Places covers great cruising grounds, the Caribbean in particular...we all gotta go there! (Save this section to read next February!) The Races section is a mixed bag. Reports on some very friendly, if not entirely casual yacht club regattas, mostly on the west coast depict a lot of fun along with the rivalry.
And then there are the otherworldly, exorbitantly expensive "BIG" races like the America's Cup, the Hobart to Sidney race and other extreme sailing adventures which are pretty scary, in terms of both size of bankroll and level of aggression---at least for the likes of this cove sailor. (I kept thinking how many homeless people could be fed for the price of a winch grinder which, of course, makes me a spoil-sport, but somebody has to say it.)
McCormick is clearly long-experienced as well as enamored of the sport of sailing for pleasure as well as for competition. He addresses an audience he assumes shares his knowledge and passion which makes perfect sense since the articles in this anthology were mostly written for sailing magazines. So if you come up short on details, and want to know more, "Google it!" That's what I did more than once when reading about various races I hadn't followed or the routes of idyllic cruises I hadn't taken, especially on the U.S. west coast...Newport to Cabo San Lucas, for instance, what a lovely ride!