A set of five volumes of short stories that will enlighten the imagination and the intrigue of the sea with many told and untold adventures, now revealed as short easy-to-read stories about the Alaskan seas, adventures and people. The stories are compilations taken from real events. Captain Hopkins has captured the seafaring life in Alaska along with the people who live and work the magnificent Alaska coastline. The series is reminiscent of the popular television reality series set in the Bering Sea, and includes stories of crab fishing, cruise ships, tugboats, and Alaska ferries. The books are beautifully designed with inviting full-color covers and include Alaskan photos along with the text. An added bonus is the Alaska Travel Notes section at the end of every volume. **Each set is bound together in an attractive, nautically-designed packet and includes a hand-signed gift tag.**
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As a captain on the Alaska Marine Highway System, William Hopkins sailed the waters of Alaska from the Bering Sea to the Inside Passage for thirty years. Prior to sailing as a master on the ferries, he also spent many seasons as a pilot on the cruise ships plying the waters of the Inside Passage, and before that had experience on a tug in Southwestern Alaska.Review:
In his story The Motor Vessel Tustumena, Capt. William Hopkins tells of a captain and crew gathered on the stern deck of that Alaska state ferry for a beloved shipmate's funeral. The deceased was a card-playing man, and the chief mate has placed an ace of spades into the urn of ashes that soon will be soaring with the winter wind over Resurrection Bay. With cold-numbed fingers, the captain opens a Bible, and reads from Psalm 107... They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in the great waters; these see the works of the Lord. The scene neatly summarizes Alaska Sea Stories, a collection of five slim volumes of nautical tales written by Hopkins and published earlier this year by Scott Company Publishing. Together, the 11 stories provide an insider's perspective of the sea-going life in Alaska that, like a ferry-deck funeral, are far beyond the daily realm of most folks. Hopkins retired from AMHS in late 2006 after a 29-year maritime career that spanned the full length and breadth of the system's 3,500 miles of routes from the Aleutian Chain to Bellingham, Wash. He observed many things during those years of going down to the sea in ships, from the beauty and fury of Alaska nature to the camaraderie and foibles of shipboard life. With Alaska Sea Stories, Hopkins helps bring those experiences to life for others. Each of the 11 stories is a compilation taken from actual events in Alaska. The ferry Tustumena and its adventures in the difficult water of Southwest Alaska figure large here, but Southeast Alaska isn't left out. Hopkins also has included stories about a former logger-turned-king-crab-crewman in A Reaching Hand, and an unexpected method for safely piloting a tug and barge in the Naknek River. Readers can breeze through Hopkins' stories. But that rather misses the point and a great opportunity. Hopkins brings to the page the tremendous attention to detail, learning and understanding that brought him through a 29-year seafaring career with an unblemished sailing record. Thus, the careful reader can learn much when one of Hopkins' stories touches on subjects like weather, navigation and geographic features. In fact, the reader is well-served to have maps or even charts on hand to enhance the lessons that Hopkins has tucked into his narratives. Regarding shipboard life, the stories focus mostly on the official side of mariners' lives. There are mentions of off-duty situations involving alcohol, a seasick elephant or, in the case of the deceased crewman, the playing of cards. But Hopkins sticks primarily to interactions between on-duty crew, especially focusing on the captains as they handle various, and sometimes emergency, situations of navigation. And that's fine. What shines through these stories is Hopkins' affection for the maritime life in Alaska. He appreciates his opportunity to serve, and the people with whom he served. It makes for a set of stories worth reading more than once, so as to not miss a telling detail. --Scott Bowlen, Ketchikan Daily News
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