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The Resource Taking the sea : perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains, by Dennis M. Powers

Taking the sea : perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains, by Dennis M. Powers

Label
Taking the sea : perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains
Title
Taking the sea
Title remainder
perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains
Statement of responsibility
by Dennis M. Powers
Creator
Subject
Language
eng
Summary
  • "By the mid-19th century, an intrepid, reckless group of men ruled the ocean. Known as "wreckers, " they made their living by rescuing ships in distress and raising sunken ones, even in the face of monstrous waves and fierce weather. To some, they were heroes, helping to rescue both passengers and ships with courage and skill. To others, they were ruthless pirates, who exploited these shipwrecks purely for their treasure. The vessels they rescued could be waterlogged on a reef or stuck high and dry on rocky shoals. They could be listing on the beach or rolling in the turbulent surf miles out to sea. The crew could have hastily abandoned the ship - in which case it was considered to be a "derelict" with enormous salvage value - or people might be still aboard, desperate to be taken off, even fearful of their would-be rescuers. But the daring wreckers, or ship salvagers, came aboard."
  • "In Taking the Sea, Dennis Powers uncovers a fascinating, yet up to now largely unknown, period in our history. Here he traces the journey of these legendary men through the story of Captain Thomas P.H. Whitelaw, the most important ship salvager of his day. Powers offers a compelling portrait of Whitelaw and the other wrecker captains, recounting the dangerous lives they and their men led. He tells us their stories from the early beginnings when needy villagers followed stricken ships in the hopes of improving their lives a little to the heyday of the wreckers in the early twentieth century when steamships and schooners ruled this country's byways."
  • "Powers explains in detail how these wreckers raised sunken ships, using pontoons and caissons, powerful tugs, strong donkey engines, and an understanding of the moon and tides to create an artificial buoyancy inside the hull. From the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, we travel along with these men and Captain Whitelaw as they face the savage seas to save foundering ships and frightened passengers."--BOOK JACKET
Review
Maritime historian Powers (Treasure Ship, 2006, etc.) offers a series of vignettes from the golden age of American marine salvage.It extended from the end of the Civil War to the decade following World War I. Sail was merging with steam, wooden hulls with iron ones, but as the nation expanded westward in the wake of the Forty-Niners, the burgeoning demand for commercial transport, in advance of creeping railroads, put all manner of ships to work under good masters and indifferent ones, for better or worse. While these stories cover disasters on the Atlantic and in the Great Lakes, Powers uses as the centerpiece the operations of Captain Thomas P.H. Whitelaw, an emigrant Scot who, beginning as a hard-hat diver in San Francisco in the late 1860s, founded a marine-salvage empire covering the California and Pacific Northwest coasts. These often-foggy waters teemed with reefs and shoals not yet charted, lying in wait for the inexperienced skipper out for easy money. Whitelaw, who had gone to sea at age 12, saw the vast potential in wrecking and seized it with both hands, building a reputation for personal courage by often risking himself when crews and passengers were in immediate jeopardy on a vessel in peril. Many of these colorful Pacific stories are not well known—for example, that of "Dynamite Johnny" and the Umatilla, a diehard ship wrecked on its maiden voyage and five times subsequently. But while most shipwrecks tend to be similar—winds howl, seas crash, hulls crack—the native ingenuity of Whitelaw and his peers in raising vessels from the dead puts meat on the bones of the salvage stories.Occasionally plodding, but there are plenty of interludes blending tragedy and triumph, and a few wondrous, death-defying finales. (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2008)
Biography type
contains biographical information
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
303043
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Powers, Dennis M
Dewey number
910.452
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • plates
Index
index present
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Whitelaw, Thomas P. H
  • Salvage
  • Shipwrecks
  • Ship captains
  • Shipwrecks
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains
Label
Taking the sea : perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains, by Dennis M. Powers
Instantiates
Publication
Note
Formerly CIP
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. [285]-295) and index
Contents
Early years -- The wrecker chronicles -- San Francisco Bay times -- The tragedy of Merritt's Circassian -- Dynamite Johnny and the Umatilla -- Midwest and coastal operations -- Success, sealing, and the Arctic -- Failures follow accomplishment -- Wrecks--and a ghost ship -- No rewards without risk -- Used parts, scrap, and a new bow -- The decade of the Great War -- The roaring twenties -- The change of eras
Control code
000043081801
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
xiv, 304 p., [16] p. of plates
Isbn
9780814413531
Other physical details
ill.
Label
Taking the sea : perilous waters, sunken ships, and the true story of the legendary wrecker captains, by Dennis M. Powers
Publication
Note
Formerly CIP
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. [285]-295) and index
Contents
Early years -- The wrecker chronicles -- San Francisco Bay times -- The tragedy of Merritt's Circassian -- Dynamite Johnny and the Umatilla -- Midwest and coastal operations -- Success, sealing, and the Arctic -- Failures follow accomplishment -- Wrecks--and a ghost ship -- No rewards without risk -- Used parts, scrap, and a new bow -- The decade of the Great War -- The roaring twenties -- The change of eras
Control code
000043081801
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
xiv, 304 p., [16] p. of plates
Isbn
9780814413531
Other physical details
ill.

Library Locations

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