Under Sail

Under Sail

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Overview

Excerpt from the Introduction:
America is again facing forward to the sea. The ancient thrill of the wide salt spaces, of the broad horizon beyond which adventure beckons us, appeals once more to the youth of America. We are living in times when the great importance of the sea as a career comes home to us at every turn. The sea is the great bulwark of our liberty, and by the sea we must persevere or perish in the world struggle of Anglo-Saxon democracy against the powers of autocratic might.
When America returns to her own, she builds upon foundations of tradition that have their footings on the solid bed rock of the republic. One glorious era of our sea history was followed by another, and as times progressed the breed of seamen ever rose capable and triumphant to the necessities that called them forth.
The Revolutionary sailors, and those of 1812, were followed by the great commercial seamen of the clippers. The mighty fleets of the Civil War astonished the world, and in the period just previous to our seafaring decline of a score of years past, the great sailors flying the Stars and Stripes spread their white cotton canvas on every sea. Their story has never been adequately told.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781537475608
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/04/2016
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

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Under Sail 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RickSpilman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Under Sail is a remarkable account of sixteen year old Felix Riesenberg¿s first voyage on a square rigger from South Street Seaport in New York, to Honolulu and back. He sailed on the A.J. Fuller, a Bath built, copper clad, wooden hulled, three skysail yard medium clipper in the waning days of the age of sail.As sail became less competitive with steam, the owners of sailing ships attempted to compete by building larger ships sailed by smaller crews. The crew of the A.J. Fuller was only 21 men, of which 16 were seaman. Her crew was mixed bunch at best. Some are sailors and some were untrained and unskilled, ¿farmers¿ fit only to haul on halyards and braces, little more than ¿beef on a rope¿ to use Riesenberg¿s terminology. He points out by way of comparison, the clipper Sovereign of the Seas, of thirty years before, had a crew of over 100, including 80 able seamen.American square riggers of the times had a reputation as ¿hell ships¿ or ¿blood boats¿ where bucko mates used brutality and sadism to keep the overworked forecastle gang in line. On the A.J. Fuller, however, though the work was backbreaking and the mate free with curses, threats and occasional violence, there were just enough deepwater sailors to get the job done. Felix Riesenberg himself, at only 16, was no ¿farmer.¿ His father had gone to sea and young Felix came from a training ship, so he was accepted among the experienced sailors in the fo¿c¿sle.Riesenberg¿s prose is clear and concise yet vivid. He captures the both the beauty and the hardship of windjammer sailing, as well as the often complicated personalities of his shipmates. He sat down to write Under Sail in his mid-thirties, having served both as officer and able seaman. What makes Under Sail so engaging is that Reisenberg¿s views are nuanced. He understands and sympathizes with those on both sides of the mast. He knows, first hand, the nearly impossible demands made on the captain and mates as well as the hardships suffered by the able seamen.Under Sail ends with the A.J. Fuller¿s successful return to New York after loading and discharge in Hawaii and the rounding of for the second time of Cape Horn. What should be a joyous homecoming is bittersweet as most of the sailors are snapped up by boarding house runners and crimps even before they leave the ship. It is clear that after a few drunken weeks ashore most will have their pockets emptied and will return to sea as the penniless sailors we met at the beginning of the book.I would have liked to have known Felix Riesenberg. After sailing before the mast, he would sail as an officer on steam ships and as navigator on the dirigible America on the Wellman expedition to the North Pole of 1906. He was twice captain of the USS Newport, the New York State school ship. In 1918, he turned to writing. Under Sail was his first book, and he would go on to write over a dozen others ranging from training manuals to novel. His novel Mother Sea has been called a classic of nautical literature and one of his few non-nautical works, East Side, West Side, was made into a very successful silent movie in 1927. Felix Riesenberg died in 1939 at the age of 60.