Clean, Sweet Wind: Sailing with the Last Boatmakers of the Carribean

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9780070526792: Clean, Sweet Wind: Sailing with the Last Boatmakers of the Carribean

As a young man, Douglas Pyle sailed his small boat throughout the Caribbean, ostensibly to measure, photograph and describe indigenous workboats. In this book, he does much more. "Clean, Sweet Wind" is a lyrical evocation of a place and time, the Lesser Antilles from Grenada to the Virgin Islands around 1970. Before the tourist boom, life in the Caribbean revolved around boats and the communities that built them. Through these stories of boatbuilders and fishermen we glimpse a society as vivid as the aquamarine waters of its reefs and the patched sails of its graceful fishing boats and interisland traders.

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From the Back Cover:

"Clean, Sweet Wind is one of the very best books about boats ever written. . . . In its feeling for its subject, its understanding of not only how but why these island craft were built as they were, and its empathy with the remarkable people who built them, it is a classic of both maritime and Carribbean history."
Louis D. Rubin, Jr., author of Small Craft Advisory

"Clean, Sweet Wind takes me back to a time in
the Caribbean when gliding through the harbor in a locally built Bequia Sweet was tantamount to heaven."
Steve Thomas, host of PBS's "This Old House" and author of The Last Navigator

"A fine book of nautical history."
Ocean Navigator

"When I found myself unable to separate the vessels from their builders, the people from their traditions and culture, and my observations from the enjoyment of observing, I realized that writing down the information still embedded within the experience of gathering it was my only hope to finish the exercise. When I finished, to my delight I discovered that not only had I accomplished the original scholarly goal, I also had both a store of how learning actually occurs and an organized picture of the
islands and islanders in that time pocket of observation. It is my hope that in setting down this description of the watercraft, the builders, and their life as I saw it in its unique island setting, I succeed in conveying the uncommon pleasure of their acquaintance."

from the Introduction

About the Author:

Accident put Douglas Pyle in the position to write the story of the boatbuilders and boatbuilding in the island chain of the Lesser Antilles. After finishing his Master's degree and teaching at a college for a year, he went to England to buy a sailboat. He sailed Eider, a lovely 1939 Robart Clark sloop, back across the Atlantic, fetching up in the Virgin Islands in 1968. Short of cash and liking the place, he took a job teaching in St. Croix. He had intended to end his tropical sojourn at summer's end, but curiosity and a strong admiration for local wooden boats and their makers held him. This interest led to his five-year study of the boats and lives of Caribbean islanders and, ultimately, to Clean, Sweet Wind. Today Douglas Pyle is a rancher; he resides in Oklahoma with his wife Nancy Fowler Pyle.

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