Harry Gratwick,
Historic Shipwrecks of Penobscot Bay
(History Press, 2014)

Penobscot Bay, a picturesque point along coastal Maine, has held a special place in my heart for several years now. Loving all things nautical, I of course leapt at the chance to read a book about the many shipwrecks that have occurred there!

Harry Gratwick's Historic Shipwrecks of Penobscot Bay certainly fits the bill. In clear, interesting prose, the author describes the circumstances that led up to various wrecks, the captain and crew that manned each vessel, the weather at the time or whatever other factors might have been involved. It all hinges on the location, of course, and Penobscot Bay serves up a plentiful selection of wrecks to choose from.

There are wrecks from war, from storms, from carelessness and plain bad luck. Gratwick gives a sampling of each, and he provides just enough detail to keep the reader interested without bogging the text down with too much minutiae. He talks about the cost in lives, the cargoes vanished beneath the waves, and the ultimate fate of the ships, whether they sank or ran aground, were lost at sea or refloated and returned to port. The book also has lots of photographs, both of the ships themselves and the people who sailed them.

Sometimes it seems like Gratwick stretches the point a bit -- some of the ships wrecked outside the bay and simply had some connection to it -- but overall I recommend this book highly to anyone who loves the Penobscot area or ships in general.

book review by
Tom Knapp

27 September 2014

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