Sailing in a Spoonful of Water: A Landlubber's Education on a Vintage Wooden Boat

Joe Coomer, Author Picador USA $22 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-15646-6

From the very start, readers will be awash in water and simile (""classifieds are like a home pregnancy test""). But surfacing above syntax, Coomer's (Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God) warmth and sanguine enthusiasm in all circumstances are endearing: ""If I should become an errorless pilot I may grow old with nothing to remember."" Coomer's journal of a love affair with and on the water centers on his purchase of a 60-year-old wooden motor sailer. In learning the ways of his small antique wonder, he is surrounded by loving family--wife, siblings, parents, grandparents, all participants in his learning experience. A Texan, he is not unfamiliar with the water, but what is new is the currents and fog of the Maine coast and the neediness of an elderly wooden craft. Anyone who has ever been owned by a boat, seduced by sea water, wind, waves, islands, will empathize with Coomer and his log books filled with seasick guests and failing engines. With his family, in-laws, momentary epiphanies continually occur: e.g., the joy of freeing an injured gull from two fishhooks. This is not a romanticized vision of sailing off into the sunset or a searing memoir of family dysfunction, but rather a journal filled with much caring and genuine respect. Photos. (June)