John Harland

John Harland's reputation as the quiet expert on the Internet discussion lists like scuttlebutt, the Gunroom, and Maritime History, well-earned though it is, tells little about his work on whaling history and his own books which we list below.  It's also a tribute to his influence that we have a beautiful facsimile of  the Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor.  I recently asked John to comment on the validity of the statement that the more a reader brings to a book, the more he takes away.

John Harland writes:

John Berg has asked me for a paragraph on the usefulness of Seamanship in the Age of Sail to the reader of nautical fiction. I am well aware that many readers enjoy the novels of Patrick O'Brian, C S Forester, Richard Woodman, et al. perfectly well, with minimal understanding of the technical stuff. For them, 'Bentincks', 'Cross-catharpings', etc. are just as lacking in sense as Maturin's 'starboard gumbrils', but appreciated because they add a nautical flavor to the text. However, I hope that *Seamanship* will continue to appeal to those readers who share my own fascination with the technical underpinnings, and the nuts and bolts of getting a sailing warship from Point A to Point B things were done in the days of wooden warships.

It is twenty years now since the text was completed, and in retrospect, it was perhaps more aimed at the writer than the reader; at the maritime artist who wanted to know what sail was appropriate in a given situation; or the film scriptwriter concerned with using the correct contemporary form of command. Somewhat to the surprise of Mark Myers and myself, the book immediately found favor as a textbook for working sailors on board training-ships, and replica vessels, and it has also even proved popular with shipmodelers, even though their primary concern is how things look, rather than how they work. I must underline that such success as the book has enjoyed, is in great part due to Mark Myers' sketches, which make clear a multitude of things that would be horribly complicated to describe in words alone.

John Harland's books available from Sea Room

Seamanship In The Age Of Sail by John Harland, --A modern, objective appraisal of the shiphandling of square-rigger that is as concerned with the practical aspects of the subject as it is the theoretical. International in balance, it provides a historical development of seamanship among the major navies of the world. The many drawings are both browsable and informative. Though not a square-rigger's best side, the many bird's eye drawings of a ship during such maneuvers as "heaving to" in which you look straight down on the masts make it much clearer about the setting of the yards. 0-87021-955-3 Naval Institute Press, 10 X 12 inches, pages 320. H, List price 67.50, Your Price 47.20, B00132.

Ships and Seamanship: Maritime Prints of J.J. Baugean by John Harland, --Jean Jerome Baugean was a French marine artist of the Napoleonic era whose engravings are prized by ship historians for their accuracy and detail. Apart from his accomplishment as a artist, Baugean was also an experienced sailor, and he often used his illustration to demonstrate a specific point of seamanship, shiphandling, or port activity. In this collection of nearly two hundred prints, John Harland describes the significance and nuances of each engraving. For example, he points out how Baugean depicted a French ship-of-line fly-block as secured to the backstay with a short rope becket to prevent it from becoming a dangerous missile should a halliard part. A fascinating collector's volume. John Harland is author of Sea Room's Seamanship in the Age of Sail. 1-55750 985-9 Naval Institute Press, 8.5 X 11 inches, pages 208. H, List price 65.00, Your Price 55.25, B00907.

Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor; The by Darcy Lever, --An unabridged republication of the second edition published by John Richardson, London 1819. John Harland edited this reproduction. First published in 1808, Sheet Anchor quickly became a standard for Jack Aubrey's contemporaries and current students of Nelson's navy will welcome the authentic detail it contains. Starting with a precise explanation of the principles of rigging, Lever continues his exposition through a well defined account of a ship's operation through the effect of the wind on its sails. Detailed drawings accompany the explanations. An opportunity to add an important treatise of sailing and seamanship to your library. 40220-7 Dover, 8.5 X11 inches, pages 256. P, List price 14.95, Your Price 12.70, B00451.

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