Recommended diversions

 In the Heart of the Sea: the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick

If you want an adventure-tragedy story, read this book. In 1820 a whaling ship from Nantucket was attacked by a sperm whale in the Pacific Ocean. The ship sank 10 minutes after being rammed by the bull whale, and 20 men escaped into three rickety whaleboats. Before they were rescued about 90 days later, we are a witness to terrifying storms, starvation, dehydration, cannibalism and finally the utter hopelessness that besets those lost at sea for long periods of time. This is the incident that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Philbrick imbues it with research on the history of whaling, the effects of starvation and dehydration on the human body, and just good writing. Marvelous read.


Visiting the N.C. coast

As the heat wave of August continues its stranglehold on the entire U.S., we were caught in its early throes as we embarked on a four-day sailing trip along the coast of North Carolina. My wife’s father has a boat that he keeps in New Bern, and Lori is an able captain. Yeah, it was hot, and each day we just shook our heads as the weather reports warned people to stay inside and out of the sun as we had no place to escape its omnipresent reach. Still, it was a great trip, as it always is on the boat. We swam, took bucket showers to cool off, read (see above), learned the art of dinghy rowing, and sailed through a couple of summer squalls that were downright frightening. But we were able to anchor in the Pamlico Sound, at Beaufort and then at Oriental before heading back to New Bern. Kind of a mini-tour of some of the coolest places along the coast. No better way to get away from the frenzied life most of us lead. Boats force people into tight quarters, and so it makes for quality family time.

— Scott McLeod

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