Schooner Sultana: Building a Chesapeake Legacy -by Lucian Niemeyer and Drew McMullen, 148 pages, $35.95, Tidewater Publishers, Centreville, Md.
Drew McMullen spins a spellbinding tale as he recounts the events that culminated in the launch of the schooner Sultana, Chestertown, Md.’s addition to the Bay’s fleet of home-built wunderships. McMullen was there at the inception, exploring with shipwright John Swain the feasibility of such a project and then spearheading the day-to-day operations as the ship slowly took form at the little yard on a Chestertown side street. But what separates this particular book from countless others of its ilk in the how-we-built-a-boat genre is its riveting attention to the history of the original Sultana. Built in Boston in 1767 and used as a revenue cruiser, the original Sultana left behind ship’s logs and other archival tidbits that McMullen pieced together to create a portrait rich with colonial history. Juxtaposing this history against the contemporary re-creation of a colonial merchantman schooner, McMullen’s text leads the reader into the heart of the vessel as well as the community that brought her back to life. Lucian Niemeyer’s photographs add vivid detail to a well told story.