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This book makes very clear what the heart of a ship is.  And it’s not the electrical or mechanical systems.  It’s not even the galley, although I can attest to the revival I felt after consuming the goods from this vessel’s galley at sea.  By the language on the engine order telegraph, can you tell the vessel?

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It’s Gazela, possibly the oldest square-rigger in the US still sailing, rebuilt in 1901 from timbers of an 1883 vessel, a Portuguese barkentine  retired from dory-fishing on the Grand Banks the year Apollo 11 shuttled peripatetic passengers to the moon.    As Eric Lorgus says in one of over 50 personal stories in the book, “she the ultimate anachronism, having been built before man’s first flight, and still sailing [commerically] the summer of the first moon landing.”   But history by itself is NOT the heart of a ship either.

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The heart of a ship is the stories told by her crew, by those who love her.  A vessel underway is like an elixir;  as she makes voyage after voyage through the decades, sea and weather and crew different each time, her pulse is the magic recounted differently by each person on board.  Heart of a Ship breathes.

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Here’s an excerpt from John Brady’s story:  “We have sailed with master mariners and people who seemed just north of homeless.  We have stood watches with carpenters, physicists, bank officers, and doctors.  We have seen those just starting out in life and those salvaging what they could from mid-life crises.   . . . We have sailed with strippers and masons, machinists and software writers, nurses and riggers, professional mariners and grandmothers….”    For more samples, click here.

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But don’t take my word for the life that pulsates in this collection.  Buy your own copy, and support Gazela’s continuing preservation.  Every historic vessel project should be so lucky as to have a collection like this.

For some of the posts I’ve done about Gazela, click here, here, here, and here.

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