SSoP Podcast Episode 06 — The Sea: Tales of Poets and Pirates

SSoP Podcast Episode 06 — The Sea: Tales of Poets and Pirates

Monday, 17 February, 2020

The ocean — vast, brutal, beautiful, and so very deep — is a thrilling setting for stories. Seafaring heroes and heroines are challenged by external forces like the wind and waves, as well as internal demons that become unwelcome companions in the close quarters of a ship.

The sea is a metaphor for everything that’s important to us: for adventure and creativity and love. It’s fascinated humans since the beginning of time, inspiring poets, historians, and novelists, as well as adventurers, conquerors, and pirates.

From luxury cruises to battered warships, open seas to exotic ports, the ocean is a compelling setting for stories of big adventure, quiet moments, human vs. nature, and the drama found above and below decks.

In this episode, we discuss essential words and phrases associated with the sea — including an introduction to the first poet (a lady poet!) — and recommend books that made us feel the ocean breeze and smell the salt in the air.

Then David chats with B.J. Porter, an American father and husband from Ohio, who sailed with his family halfway around the world in their boat the Evenstar.

transcript

Read the full transcript of Episode 6: The Sea.

Dark Voyage

buy | read review

Into the Storm

buy | read review

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

buy | read review

Moby Dick

buy | read review

The Last Cruise

buy | read review

Death by Water

buy | read review

Dead Wake

buy | read review

other books we mentioned

rule

our charming guest

When you’re out to sea like that, it’s… It’s never quiet, but it’s not noisy. There’s sort of a rhythm of noise, you know, the boat’s moving and you hear the hiss of the water, and you hear the flutter of the sails, and you rarely hear things like birds. But then again, other times at night, it’s quiet enough so that you can hear dolphins come up and breathe next to the boat. — B.J. Porter

For the past eight years, B.J. Porter has been sailing half the world, from New England to New Zealand, with his wife and his two children. He tells us about how they got started, what it was like raising two adolescents at sea, and some of the books that inspired him in the first place.

Connect with B.J.

Books mentioned by B.J.

The Coconut Milk Run: This is the route across the Pacific from east to west, and includes ports in the Galapagos, the Marquesas, the Tuomotus, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. More details on the Coconut Milk Run.

rule

other cool stuff we talked about

Enheduanna, the world’s first known poet. More on Enheduanna.

This is the Disk of Enheduanna, a calcite artifact that depicts Enheduanna (third from right, with her hand raised) as she oversees a ceremony. It dates from around 2300 B.C; its outside diameter is 9.8 inches/25cm.

Ya’qubi, 9th-century historian and geographer. Here’s the passage Ya’qubi wrote about the seven seas:

Whoever wants to go to China must cross seven seas, each one with its own color and wind and fish and breeze, completely unlike the sea that lies beside it. The first of them is the Sea of Fars, which men sail setting out from Siraf. It ends at Ra’s al-Jumha; it is a strait where pearls are fished. The second sea begins at Ra’s al-Jumha and is called Larwi. It is a big sea, and in it is the Island of Waqwaq and others that belong to the Zanj. These islands have kings. One can only sail this sea by the stars. It contains huge fish, and in it are many wonders and things that pass description. The third sea is called Harkand, and in it lies the Island of Sarandib, in which are precious stones and rubies. Here are islands with kings, but there is one king over them. In the islands of this sea grow bamboo and rattan. The fourth sea is called Kalah and is shallow and filled with huge serpents. Sometimes they ride the wind and smash ships. Here are islands where the camphor tree grows. The fifth sea is called Salahit and is very large and filled with wonders. The sixth sea is called Kardanj; it is very rainy. The seventh sea is called the sea of Sanji, also known as Kanjli. It is the sea of China; one is driven by the south wind until one reaches a freshwater bay, along which are fortified places and cities, until one reaches Khanfu.

From ‘Two Truths and a Lie’:

Footlight Parade: In Alan Furst’s novel Dark Voyage, the crew of the watch Busby Berkeley’s 1933 film Footlight Parade on the deck of the ship.

Cruise ship libraries: See a photo and get the full story on cruise ship libraries here.

Sea shanties — Roll the Old Chariot: The clip of the song ‘Roll the Old Chariot’ in our podcast is performed by David Coffin and a group of people at the 2010 Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival. David Coffin is a musician and educator who performs throughout New England.

And more sea shanties because we can’t get enough:

rule

subscribe

Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss a must-read book or thrilling destination!

If we're not available on your favorite podcast-listening platform, send us an email!

Top image courtesy of Henrique Setim.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

On 21 November 1922, a luxury liner embarked on a 130-day cruise around the world to 22 ports: Yokohoma and Shanghai, Rangoon and Bombay, Egypt, Cuba, and Naples. This is the true story of that grand adventure.
It's never smooth sailing when the Honorable Phyrne Fisher is involved — but it is always a lot of dangerous and delicious fun. Dine on this delightful shrimp salad while catching up on Phryne's high seas adventures.
The Tom Collins is the ultimate highball, a combo of gin, simple syrup, lemon, and bubbly water. This classic is effervescent and refreshing — the ideal go-along for a literary thriller set on a retro luxury liner.
It's anchors aweigh on these literary voyages that promise excitement of both the physical and emotional variety. You'll meet a lady pirate, a WWII freighter captain, the passengers of a luxury liner, Ishmael, and more.
Once you've heard a crew singing 'Roll the Old Chariot,' you'll not forget it. Sea shanties are infectious — and they served an important function aboard ship. We've got the backstory on this charming nautical art form.

sharing is caring!

Wanna help us spread the word? If you like this page, please share with your friends.

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.