{Alongshore} John R. Stilgoe Alongshore

{APN} The American Practical Navigator

{BG} Boston Globe

{Brereton} John Brereton “Briefe and True Relation. . .”

{CCC} Cape Cod Canal website

{Carter} Robert Carter A Summer Cruise on the Coast of New England

{CGNEC} Robert C. Duncan et al. The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast

{DV/FF} Daniel Vickers Farmers & Fishermen

{ECP} Eleanor C. Parsons THACHERS island of the twin lights

{ET&P} Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book

{Foole} Tom McGrath Voyages of the Damn Foole

{HDT/CC} Henry David Thoreau Cape Cod

{HeartofSea} Nathaniel Philbrick In the Heart of the Sea

{HFN/tisbury} Henry Franklin Norton Martha’s Vineyard

{I&M} The Inquirer and Mirror

{JEG/NS} Joseph E. Garland The North Shore

{Laighton} Oscar Laighton Ninety Years at the Isles of Shoals

{LFH} L. Francis Herreshoff The Compleat Cruiser

{Medley} The Medley (blog)

{Moby-Dick} Herman Melville Moby-Dick

{Mourt} Mourt’s Relation

{MVCMA} Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association


{NH/AN} Nathaniel Hawthorne Passages from the American Notebooks

{NH/SL} Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter

{Norie} J.W. Norie, et al Sailing Directions for. . . North America

{nps/mhm} National Park Service Maritime History of Massachusetts

{NPT} Nantucket Preservation Trust

{NYT} New York Times

{OPP} William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation

{Rutledge} Lyman V. Rutledge The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend

{SEM/MHM} Samuel Eliot Morison The Maritime History of Massachusetts

{SHS} Sippican Historical Society

{Slocum} Joshua Slocum Sailing Alone Around the World

{TTOR} The Trustees of Reservations

{Voyages} Voyages of Samuel de Champlain


The American Practical Navigator

Known as “Bowditch”, and published today (much updated) by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, this has been the American “Epitome of Navigation” since it was first published by Salem shipmaster and mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch in 1802.

Boston Globe

Bradford, William; Of Plymouth Plantation

First-hand account of the Pilgrims’ migration and of their experience in Massachusetts from 1620 through 1647, written by the governor of the Plymouth Colony.

Brereton, John; “Briefe and True Relation of the Discovery of the North Part of Virginia in 1602

A dozen-page account of Gosnold’s trip, includes the naming of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. Available online here.

Cape Cod Canal

The Canal’s website has complete regulations, history, great old photos. Available online here. 

Carter, Robert; A Summer Cruise on the Coast of New England (1864)

In the pantheon of cruising narratives. References are to the 1969 reprint titled Carter’s Coast of New England.

Duncan, Robert C. et al.; The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast (2002)

This is a venerable book, with roots that reach back to the 1930s. Infrequent revision and an old-school layout heavy with text may limit its appeal, and its broad reach leaves it thin in spots. But the writers have a profound feel, and love, for the coast, coupled with an appreciation of cruising that long predates on-board microwaves and dockside cable tv hookups.

Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book

“The most trusted guide for East Coast waters, since 1875.”

Garland, Joseph E.; The North Shore (1998)

Prolific Gloucester author’s account of “Boston’s Gold Coast 1823-1929”. I find the style a little too enamored of it’s own breeziness and wit to read in quantity, but the book is rich with detail, anecdote and illustrations.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel; Passages from the American Notebooks (1850)

A writer’s journal, with observations and story ideas. Abridged version online here.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel; The Scarlet Letter (1868)

Herreshoff, L. Francis; The Compleat Cruiser (1956)

The Marblehead yacht designer and determined curmudgeon’s presentation of “the art, practice and enjoyment of boating” was probably obsolete the day it was published. But some of the advice, and attitudes, are timeless. Great vignettes of cruising in New England at the beginning of the post-War boom.

Inquirer and Mirror

Nantucket’s newspaper. Website has articles and good links.

Laighton, Oscar; Ninety Years at the Isles of Shoals (1930)

Son of Thomas Laighton, Oscar came to the Isles when he was not yet a year old and helped manage the family’s Appledore House for most of its existence. His recollections are personal and colorful. Quotes from the 1971 Star Island Corporation reprint.

Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association

McGrath, Tom; Voyages of the Damn Foole (1997)

A dory sailor out of Nahant offers sharp observations of coastal culture, filtered through a thick layer of endearing, self-deprecating sarcasm. The extended riff on Carter’s Summer Cruise. . . is quite funny.

South Coast Vintage

A fun, quirky blog that explores out-of-the-way south coast history. Here’s the post referenced in the Marion pages.

Melville, Herman; Moby-Dick (1851)

Morison, Samuel Eliot; The Maritime History of Massachusetts (1921)

Written when academic historians weren’t embarrassed to talk about the big-picture, or tell good stories about dead white males in jargon-free prose. Morison is the patriarch of American maritime historians, and was an avid sailor too. References are to the Northeastern Classics edition, 1979.

Mourt’s Relation (1622)

First-hand accounts of the “beginning and proceedings of the English plantation settled at Plymouth.” References are to the Applewood Books edition, 1963.

online version of the Vineyard Gazette

Nantucket Preservation Trust

Nantucket Preservation Trust’s mission is to protect, promote and preserve the island’s unique architectural heritage and sense of place.

National Park Service; Maritime History of Massachusetts

A tour of National Register of Historic Places sites in coastal Massachusetts

New York Times

Their archives are now free.

Norie, J.W. et al.; Sailing Directions for the Coasts, Harbors and Islands of North America (1856)

Not so much distinguished as it is representative of the genre. On Google Books here.

Norton, Henry Franklin; Martha’s Vineyard (1923)

Online version from an eclectic and very useful sight for Vineyard history.

Parsons, Eleanor C.; THACHERS island of the twin lights (1985)

A quick, fun, easy to read overview of the island’s history. Lots of color and anecdote.

Philbrick, Nathaniel In the Heart of the Sea (2000)

A great piece of popular historical writing, describing the sinking of the whaleship Essex, by a whale, in 1820 and her crew’s unbelievably grueling journey in open whaleboats to the Chilean coast. Nicely establishes the contexts of Nantucket society, the whaling economy, human starvation and cannibalism.

Rutledge, Lyman V.; The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend (1965)

Rutledge was a Unitarian minister who spent summers at the Isles over a 50 year period, and served as executive director of the Star Island Corporation. This seems to be the authoritative history of the Isles from early European contact through their acquisition by the SIC in 1915-1916. Better researched and less anecdotal than the title suggests.

Sippican Historical Society

Pretty good quality and quantity of content on their website.

Slocum, Joshua; Sailing Alone Around the World (1900)

The indispensable cruising narrative. References are to the Collier paperback edition, 1958.

Stilgoe, John R.; Alongshore (1994)

Obliquely slanted observations of coastal geography, language, culture and imagery. The author is a Harvard prof who styles himself a “barefoot historian” – deconstructionist meets bikini-obsessed beachcomber? Insightful, quirky and fun.

Thoreau, Henry David; Cape Cod (1865)

Thought-provoking (and quite readable) musings inspired by his travels on the Cape in the 1850s. References are to the 1987 Penguin Nature Classics edition.

Trustees of Reservations

Website. Their collection of preservation land throughout the state is astonishing. Many properties are close to harbors and most are free.

Vickers, Daniel; Farmers & Fishermen (1994)

An academic history that’s readable (though no page-turner). It studies work patterns in Essex County (Nahant to the New Hampshire border) from 1630 to 1850. Truly illuminating.

Voyages of Samuel de Champlain

Famous and recognizable accounts of his early 17th century explorations of the New England coast. There’s an online reprint of an 1878 English-language version here.