Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world—Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.
You know those books from young childhood. The ones where you remember the feel of the cover and the pages between your fingers and most of all the vividness of the story upon your young mind. And you love the memory of it yet you sometimes wonder, “Is it really as good as I thought it was?” Then perhaps you find it again and pick it up, wondering all the time and also a little worried that it might not be as good as you thought. You read half of the book in one sitting. You take notes because the book has just so much information! The seed the story left in your imagination and heart through all those years grows even deeper and you find even more. So it was with this story of a young man who 'sailing by the ash breeze' refused to be daunted by any setback, and who learned and studied everywhere he went. A man who after the age of twelve never received any official tutoring and who ended up receiving an honorary degree from Harvard. A man who saw his dreams smashed and pluckily rose up to greater ones. The story and writing are easy to read and simple to grasp as I found it a decade ago, but it is now also inspiring and convicting...and still as memorable.