Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Seaside, Florida
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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...