History of the Florida Keys and “Wrecking”

The Florida Keys, a coral rock archipelago and accompanying barrier reef, stretch 200 nautical miles from Key Biscayne to the Dry Tortugas. The first European to see Biscayne Bay and sail through the Keys was probably Juan Ponce de Leon, during his voyage of discovery in 1513. He named them Los Martires, or the Martyrs, Read More

History of Lake Tahoe’s Washoe Tribe

Long before the first contact with American fur trappers and settlers in the early 1800s, the Washoe tribe of Native Americans claimed Lake Tahoe as their summer home. The shores of the lake served as part of their annual migration for at least 2,300 years before the U.S. government surveyor, John Fremont, gave the first Read More

The Literary Gem of Prince Edward Island

In 1970, during my first visit to the Canadian Maritime Provinces, I spent a week touring Prince Edward Island. At that time, a sailor could pass the day ashore at the community lobster dinner at St. Anne’s Church or buy a postcard depicting a giant potato resting on a flatbed railroad car to mail back Read More

Man-Made Marvels of the Chesapeake Bay

Jagged shorelines and peninsulas shaped like crooked fingers make the Chesapeake a gorgeous place to explore. Some people are content to gaze at the scenery and enjoy what Mother Nature gave us. Others choose to alter the master plan. Tinkering with the Bay’s land and waterways started centuries ago, driven by the need to transport Read More

The History of Maine’s Cod Fisheries

The Gulf of Maine stretches along the Eastern Seaboard northeast from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia. To seaward, the gulf is bounded by the Georges Bank, which is part of the chain of shallow fishing zones along the continental shelf ending at the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. When John Cabot, the Italian explorer in English Read More

Chichén Itzá – One of the New Seven Wonders of the World

“We are at the mouth of the well of the people of Itza,” proclaimed the Maya tour guide 35 years ago on my first visit to Chichén Itzá. Since that time, Chichén Itzá has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site, been placed on the new seven Wonders of the World list and is Read More

Hollywood Movies & the Caribbean

The West Indies is the favorite cruising ground for boaters from around the world. Many couples dream of selling everything they own, buying a sailboat and cruising the Caribbean. And those of us who have sailed this island chain know just how unique that paradise is. Much of what we imagine the Caribbean to be Read More

The History of Astoria, Oregon

One of the most fascinating bits of history is the role that beaver fur pelts played in international trade and, ultimately, the founding of Astoria, Oregon. Today, with our different sensibilities about wearing animal fur, it is difficult to imagine the importance of beaver fur in everyday life hundreds of years ago. Although fur pelts from Read More

The Corsair of Galveston

The close of the War of 1812 had been good to the Gulf of Mexico pirate Jean Lafitte. In exchange for aiding General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, President James Madison granted Lafitte and his brigands a full pardon for their previous smuggling activities. Armed with that written clemency, Lafitte gained the Read More

The History of the San Juan Islands

The standard dictionary entry for the San Juan Islands goes like this: SAN’ JUAN’ IS’LANDS (sæn hwa:n) N. PL. An archipelago of northwest Washington off the southeast coast of Vancouver Island North of Puget Sound. But that doesn’t give any inkling of the unique role the San Juans played in the territorial ambitions of Great Read More