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  #1  
Old 10-11-2007
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The Time-Life Library of Boating

Last June I invited a friend down to Hilton Head Island for a week of sailing. After cruising all over creation, he headed back home to Colorado and sent me a set of the Time-Life Library of Boating as a gift (he's currently broke). A decade or so ago, his father had been an exec with Time-Life, and his parents have had this ten-book edition in their house since 1976. The spines are faded, but the glossy pages themselves are like untouched time capsules.

Anyway, the books arrived a few weeks ago on my front porch in a big brown box, and I've been reading through each volume ever since. They are fascinating. In them you see men in Elvis sunglasses and Evel Knievel jumpsuits washing their sails with garden hoses in their front yards. You see a young fellow by the name of Hans Schneider smoking an enormous pipe as he applies a coat of "red-lead primer" to his ketch's wooden hull. You see lots of gamey looking people with belt sanders leaning into their hulls... It would seem that the intended audience of these books was middle-income Americans who wanted to know how to sail and maintain a sailboat. Anyway, I can't imagine anyone trying to sell this concept to Time-Life today.

First thing this morning I saw a post by Robert Gainer in which he mentioned a friend of his who makes the Pathfinder windvane. Captain Gainer also mentioned that his friend was also a contributing author to these Time-Life books. His friend's name is Dr. David Parker, and sure enough, he's the author of some truly beautiful essays, one of which is on the difficulties and pleasures of offshore sailing. By today's standards, the essays are long (I'm guessing 3000 words?), and they are unbelievably well written and riveting. I'd post an excerpt now, but I don't have the time.

My interest in starting this thread is to have some of you comment on what was going on in the world of sailing in the 1970s that made it possible to have Time-Life publish something like this. I've owned a boat for only a year now (next week is our one-year anniversary), and I was alive but not quite sentient when these books came out. I realize this is a strange topic for a thread, but there's got to be a few of you out there who could shed some light on the times...
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Old 10-11-2007
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Excellent idea for a thread, Sailhog. In the 70s I was a budding sentient being, but at the time was really only aware of boats that pulled skiers on lakes and rivers. Sailing looked "complicated". But sailing might have been popular for reasons that differ from today. Historical sales data shows there were a lot more sailboats being sold back then. Of course, the average size was a lot smaller. But still...
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Old 10-11-2007
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One thing that happened is that Newsweek (or was it Time?) magazine put a photo of the Westsail 32 on the front cover in the early '70's with an article about the sailing life, cruising around the world,etc. Apparently that ignited a lot of dreamers in those days, and certainly helped sales of the Westsail. Both Bill Crealock and Bob Perry have talked about the impact of that magazine at the time. It apparently did turn a lot of people on to sailing.
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Neat-o thread. I love the 70s even though I was born in them. I still remember bits and pieces.

If anyone has old sailing magazines, it would be a trip to see some scanned ads from the time for sailboats etc.
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Old 10-11-2007
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Sailhog,
Now that's a blast from the past. I subscribed to that very series of Time Life's Library of Boating back in the late 70s and still have them - collecting dust in my library for the past 30 years.

I sailed dinghys on a local lake during summer camp, between the ages 8 through 12. When I was 20-something I bought my first boat, a 21 foot PennYan runabout. That was what sparked my interest in purchasing these books.

If I remember correctly, the content of each volume was mostly devoted to powerboats. But I enjoyed reading all the sections on sailboat ownership, since back then, I did sail with a friend on his Shields in Newport Harbor. I have to confess that I did enjoy my powerboats for waterskiing, fishing and scubadiving, and used them extensively with family and friends.

Funny thing though, I dusted off these old books a few years ago when searching for my current boat. My intent was to brush up on the complexities of sailboat maintenance and ownership, but soon realized how dated the information was. Our kids had an especially good laugh over all the dated photos . . . I haven't opened them up since.
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TB,
Dust them off again when you have a chance. There's a guy in there somewhere with a great handlebar mustache.
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Old 10-11-2007
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You want me to go through all 12 of my issues to search for "a guy in there somewhere with a great handlebar mustache." ?? Somehow, I get an image of pothead David Crosby . . . who actually, is a great sailor.

How 'bout I just post a photo of Nathanael G. Herreshoff . . . perhaps the most respected name in yachting. Now that's a yachtie's moustache.

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TB,
A bio of your guy can be found on page 66 of the volume entitled "The Classic Boat." Here's how it begins:

Among all the artists and craftsmen who turned head and hand to boatbuilding, none was ever a match for Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, the most talented ,versatile, and inventive creator of yachts in America and very likely the world. Born in 1848 in the seaport town of Bristol, R.I., on Narrangansett Bay, Herreshoff had built and raced his own winning sailing craft by age 10... At 18 he entered M.I.T. to study engineering, and in 1878, young Hereshoff joined [his brother] J.B. in partnership, taking over theas the firm's chief designer... Unfortunately, in recent years, Narrangansett Bay has been taken over by mal-odorous skippers of rude ketches of Scandinavian design and build. At the time of this writing [1976] it is predicted that within 31 years, the great traditions of the Bristol yards will be overwhelmed by these rude men..."

Wow.
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Old 10-11-2007
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Nostrodamus strikes again.
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I got married in 1971, the first youngun was 1973, and second 1975. Back then, blowboaters were the same geeks (teachers/professors)as those that drove Volvo's and other safe and economical cars. Probably half of the sailboats back then were still wood. I joined the (at the time) rag-tag outfit of the USCG in 1969. Geeeezeee and I old or what?!?
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