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Praise for Taking the Sea

“Incredibly well-researched and descriptive, Taking the Sea skillfully draws the reader into the precarious life of shipwreck salvage…A fascinating read.”
                — Jennifer Hooper McCarty, co-author of What Really Sank the Titanic:
                New Forensic Discoveries.

“Definitive and engrossing history of those fearless and determined seagoing entrepreneurs of yesteryear known as the `master wreckers'…No maritime library is complete without Dennis Powers's Taking the Sea."
                — Bruce Henderson, author of Down to the Sea: An Epic Story of Naval Disaster and Heroism
                 in World War II.

“A wonderful story that all shipwreck hunters, wreckers, and lovers of the sea will enjoy.”
                — Jim Kennard, shipwreck explorer & discoverer of the HMS Ontario

“A compelling story of the brave and ambitious men who forged a new industry in the waning days of sail…Dennis Powers salvages valuable treasure from the depths of America’s rich maritime history.”
                — Brian Hicks, author of Raising the Hunley and When the Dancing Stopped: The Real
                 Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake

Taking the Sea is a book to be relished by readers who love tales of maritime adventures…a fine book.”
                — Willie Drye, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

“A remarkable book, well written and thoroughly researched – one of the best reads of the decade.” 
                — Michael G. Walling, author of Bloodstained Sea, the U.S. Coast Guard in the Battle of
the Atlantic, 1941-1944

“Dennis Powers dives deeply into the long-forgotten tales of ingenuity and bravery in search of what was thought lost to Neptune…rivals Bella Bathurst's The Wreckers and Henry Kittredge's Mooncussers of Cape Cod as the definitive work in this area.”
                — John J. Galluzzo, Executive Director, U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association.

“A page-turning story that readers of all ages will find both interesting and exciting...”
                — Floyd Shelton, Commissioner of Ports, State of Oregon; Harbor Commissioner of
                 Astoria, Oregon, and Redwood City, California.

“With a skillful and intriguing narrative, the author explores a facet of maritime history that’s little explored…this belongs in every maritime library.”                  
                — Bill Kooiman,
Porter Shaw Library, San Francisco Maritime Museum.

"Maritime historian Powers (Treasure Ship, 2006, etc.) offers a series of vignettes from the golden age of American marine salvage. It extended from the end of the Civil War to the decade following World War I. Sail was merging with steam, wooden hulls with iron ones, but as the nation expanded westward in the wake of the Forty-Niners, the burgeoning demand for commercial transport, in advance of creeping railroads, put all manner of ships to work under good masters and indifferent ones, for better or worse. While these stories cover disasters on the Atlantic and in the Great Lakes, Powers uses as the centerpiece the operations of Captain Thomas P.H. Whitelaw, an emigrant Scot who, beginning as a hard-hat diver in San Francisco in the late 1860s, founded a marine-salvage empire covering the California and Pacific Northwest coasts. These often-foggy waters teemed with reefs and shoals not yet charted, lying in wait for the inexperienced skipper out for easy money. Whitelaw, who had gone to sea at age 12, saw the vast potential in wrecking and seized it with both hands, building a reputation for personal courage by often risking himself when crews and passengers were in immediate jeopardy on a vessel in peril. Many of these colorful Pacific stories are not well known - for example, that of "Dynamite Johnny" and the Umatilla, a diehard ship wrecked on its maiden voyage and five times subsequently. But while most shipwrecks tend to be similar - winds howl, seas crash, hulls crack - the native ingenuity of Whitelaw and his peers in raising vessels from the dead puts meat on the bones of the salvage stories. Occasionally plodding, but there are plenty of interludes blending tragedy and triumph, and a few wondrous, death-defying finales."
               — Kirkus Reviews


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Music: Justin R. Durban


Taking the Sea: Perilous Waters,
Sunken Ships, and the True Story
of the Legendary Wrecker Captains