High Spots: The Seagoing Memoirs of Captain James Wilbur Johnston

September 15, 2012|
High Spots: The Seagoing Memoirs of Captain James Wilbur Johnston by James Johnston
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James Wilbur Johnston was born in 1854 in Great Village, Nova Scotia. Family oral history related that in the latter part of the 18th- or early 19th-century his grandfather was kidnapped (or “pressed” by the English Navy) from the streets of an Irish port city and forced to work as a crew member on board a sailing vessel bound for North America. Arriving at the port of Halifax, he was able to jump ship and escape to Colchester County.Wilbur was born into the world of sailing men and sailing ships that he had inherited from his grandfather. He had many adventures at sea and a thousand stories to tell. This memoir of his early days at sea was written as an intimate and revealing story for his children and his grandchildren, written in the 1930s to record the “high spots” of his time as a sailor and a captain.As Bruce Graham notes in his introduction, “What a story it is! The captain of cool temperament reveals tales of spell-binding voyages and dangerous adventure in understated tones. There is no bragging here, no ego on the pages, no huffing and puffing and it is exactly this playing down of danger, this off-handedness of high adventure and life-threatening misadventure, that give his words such a fascinating legacy. Captain Johnston is no teller of tall tales. He reveals his experiences as if his was an ordinary life. He witnessed murders, experienced ship wrecks, survived wicked winds, explored tropical islands and far-off lands. But it is more - much more than that. This is not your typical seagoing story. Turning the pages, you actually get a sense of this man, as if he is in the room with you. Seldom is a reader granted such an experience.A man like Captain Johnston was accustomed to the stinging whip of a North Atlantic gale as well as the windless lulls of southern climates, where a ship could lay idle for days or weeks waiting for trade winds. These men knew lonely days with restless. A good captain was all things to his crew; disciplinarian, doctor, barber, pastor and yes, when necessary, even pacifier. He cut their hair, blessed the dead and demanded life-threatening risks of the living. It was a dangerous life and the crew either adored and loved their captain or detested every breath he took. The captain had shipmates but no friends at sea.”At the close of Wilbur's seagoing adventures in the manuscript, in 1886, he went home to Great Village married his village sweetheart and they moved to the U.S. But his adventures did not end there.High Spots appears in print for the public to read for the first time.
Title:High Spots: The Seagoing Memoirs of Captain James Wilbur Johnston
Product dimensions:157 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.38 in
Shipping dimensions:157 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.38 in
Published:September 15, 2012
ISBN - 13:9781897426432

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