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Taking the Sea
by Dennis M. Powers

© 2009, 2011 by Dennis M. Powers

Published by: Webster House Books™, a division of Jeanne Fredericks Literary Agency, Inc.,

Smashwords Edition
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All characters, places, and incidents in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to any real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.


“Maritime historian Powers (Treasure Ship, 2006, etc.) offers a series of vignettes from the golden age of American marine salvage. 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 twelve, 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

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