Friday, September 17, 2010

Narrow Seas Received 'One Lovely Blog' Award has received the 'One Lovely Blog' Award. This is a community-generated award in which operators of historical fiction and related blogs bestow the award on those they think deserving. It is then incumbent upon the recipient to pass it along and recognize other blogs in the field.

It's gratifying to receive such rewards because the Internet can be a cold and lonely place. Many times I wonder if anybody is reading (hello, hello, anybody out there?), so the receipt of such an award gives me a boost that last for days. I love receiving comments and emails from readers, but an award from a colleague who respects my work has an extra something special to it--other writers in the field know just how tough historical fiction can be, especially when there are 'rivet-counters' who will pounce upon perceived inaccuracies. (Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong, and sometimes it just doesn't matter.)

Unfortunately, I'm principally a poet and a tall ship sailor, so I'm not as conversant with the field of historical fiction blogs as others are. Some of the ones that immediately come to mind have been nominated before. However, credit is due where credit is due.

1. Nan Hawthorne's Booking History at Nan has been a keen supporter and helpful advisor in the field of historical fiction blogging. Although she was the one that gave me this reward, I am reciprocating because she's one of the genuinely professional and helpful people in the field, unfailingly courteous, insightful, and supportive for gay historical fiction.

2. Astrodene's Historic Naval Fiction Blog and the ancillary website and forums at Astrodene runs one of the most comprehensive online resources for historic naval fiction and non-fiction. He publishes reviews, catalogs, forums, interviews, and all kinds of good stuff. He's a courteous and conscientious host has been unfailing gracious to this newby in the field of nautical fiction.

3. Richard Spilman's Old Salt Blog is another great resource for fans of nautical fiction at He publishes reviews, history, stories, and sea lore. He's another fixture of the field, and fans with any interest in the sea would do well to check out his site.

4. A Room of One's Own is dedicated to fanfiction, especially historical fan fiction, and especially the Age of Sail. It was here that I discovered I was not the only one to appreciate the homoerotic potential of the Hornblower miniseries (*grin*)

5. Age of Sail blog. Another major resource for the field of nautical fiction. Here is where you can learn more about history and fiction, as well as view a really neat video of HMS Victory firing a rolling broadside at

6. Gerry B's Book Reviews. He reviews historical fiction and lots of other stuff, all with appeal for an LGBT audience. We need more good reviewers!

7. Elisa Rolle's Reviews and Ramblings. Elisa seems bent on reading and reviewing all m/m romance in existence, which is an even greater challenge given that English is not her native language. She also posts her reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, meaning excellent exposure for works she reviews. NSFW

8. Thrifty Reader reviews everything, including gay historical fiction. A lively and informal style is very readable at

9. Andi's Musing offers reviews and random blog posts about whatever strikes her at

10. Thistles and Pirates. Not technically a blog, but Cindy Vallar reviews and provides useful information to readers interested in pirates, privateers, corsairs, and related subjects in fiction or non-fiction.

11. Speak Its Name. The grand-daddy of the gay historical fiction blogs, with the admirable goal of reviewing every gay historical fiction novel ever published at

12. Historical Fiction & Fact Blog. A monster listing of historical fiction and fact blogs.

13. GLBT Bookshelf. Technical not a blog, but it's a great source for promoting LGBT work of all sorts in one wiki-based community. Thanks to Mel Keegan for running this project.

14. Boatswains and Bacteremia -~An Amalgam of Medical and Maritime History~ for those who are interested in historical medicine and maritime history, together or apart. A classic geek's blog covering a unique field at

15. Naval History Blog, from the US Naval Institute, Naval History & Heritage Command. An official blog of an official organization. Your tax dollars at work! But seriously, it's great to see historical information with an authoritative provenance, and it's especially good to see the historical material put in context as part of our military preparedness, past and present.

The rules for the "One Lovely Blog" award are as follows:

1. (If you) accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know that they have been chosen for this award.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Timmynocky Hospitalized

Readers of this blog will remember Timmynocky the Sailor Cat. I regret to report he is in the pet hospital tonight. He had a urinary blockage that made him a very unhappy kitty. This is common in neutered male cats. He is improving and we will pick him up tomorrow morning. We leave Martha's Vineyard after collecting the cat, but there is a good chance we will be embayed by strong winds roaring right into Vineyard Haven. Square-riggers cannot sail into the wind.

Once we get out we will be cruising Long Island Sound so we can drop Timmy off with the captain's former nanny, who will deliver him to a volunteer in New Jersey, who will get him to the shipyard. This is because the vet doesn't want Timmy to go to sea in case of complications. He needs to be ashore with ready access to veterinary care.

Martha's Vineyard is not very interesting. I had hoped to find some sign of local history, but it's obliterated by rich people. I'm looking forward to Long Island Sound; we will be going through New York harbor. In a tall ship. Yes!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tall Ship and Hurricane Earl

As many of you know, I crew on the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel, a reproduction of a Dutch pinnace that was originally built in 1625. As such, she predates the steering wheel and the jib sail. We have been in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where we rode out a four day noreaster with only minor damage (I repaired the Delaware state flag). We were due into Martha's Vinyard, but the Vinyard is no safe haven during a hurricane, so we diverted to New Bedford, Massachusetts. We are snug at the State Pier amid all the scallop boats. The Schooner Ernestina is also docked here, and we hear another tall ship is due in today some time.

A hurricane warning has been issued that includes us. I have been expecting this. My gut instinct has told me that the forecast has been too far east all along, and the forecast has been slowly creeping to the westward over the last several days. Much depends on other factors, but Hurricane Earl is a large hurricane that restrengthened to Category 4. I am off duty until 3 this afternoon, after which time I don't know when I will have a chance to check email or post. I do not have a camera, as Nikon did not honor their warranty and replace my camera when it died after only three months.

I have paid the obligatory visit to the Seamen's Bethel, the church made famous in Moby Dick. You can also read Jeffrey Woodward's excellent prose/poem about it in issue 3 of AtlasPoetica, available free online at: Click 'Read Atlas Poetica' and choose issue 3. The church still serves as a non-denominational place of worship and remembrance. They are attempting to raise money for restoration, so feel free to send them a donation. Here's a prayer that the current storm will not require the erection of any more cenotaphs upon its walls.

I have found New Bedford's waterfront to be much as Melville described it. Although I do not think I have met any cannibals, I have met Spaniards, Portuguese, Azoreans, Celts, Americans, African Americans, Quakers, and more in the 24 hours that I have been here--and I have not walked far. Just up the hill to Johnny Cake Street with its cobbles and historic signs. While most of my off duty crewmates have been in pursuit of beer and air conditioning, I have walked these old streets and listened to poetry rattling off the stones.

Most of the ports I have been too are nearly dead, populated more by yachts and souvenir shops than by fishboats, but in New Bedford I am surrounded by a forest of fishboats, mostly scallop boats. The Vila Nova do Corvo I has left her berth, I don't know why. I hope it is merely to a new berth and not out to sea. The Voyager, Curlew II, and Santa Maria are all rafted up with a host of others too densely packed for me to read their names, but the Fisherman has gone and so have some others. More boats are coming in: yachts from all the islands around: the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vinyard, Nantucket.

The harbor staff have been setting more mooring buoys to accommodate the influx. So far they have space enough to accommodate all comers. What will happen when the harbor is full and the hurricane gate is closed? Is it even possible the harbor will fill up now that fishing is in decline here as elsewhere? Once New Bedford and Fairhaven across the river were home to half the 700 whalers that hunted the seven seas. The forest of fishing booms I see now is not so impressive when I think about the leviathans of Melville's day.

For now the hurricane gate stands open, an ancient lighthouse at the entrance, welcoming all comers, just as New Bedford has always welcomed mariners from every nation and every sea. I was the only visitor to the Seamen's Bethel this morning. I sat alone in the pews and contemplated the cenotaphs. The dates spanned nearly two hundred years from the early 1800s to the 1990s. There in the humid silence it was easy to imagine their wights adrift forever in a stormy sea, looking always homeward for the light and open gate.