From its evergreen-topped rockbound coastline
shrouded in fog to its great title rivers, Maine has attracted sailors for centuries. Pain
takes his readers from shipbuildings meager beginnings in the early 17th
century to the battleships fishing and lobster boats of today. Historic photographs and
prints of paintings help to illustrate Maines long-time relationship with the sea.
Paine relates Maines maritime history through a simple
narrative peppered with liberal doses of evocative first person anecdotes. As one
historian of American shipbuilding has written:
Sawing plank was a laborious process. A pet was dog and a
staging setup across it, the log was levered out on the staging and sawn by the use of a
long two-man handsaw... one man stood in the staging, astraddle the log and facing
opposite to the direction of the saw cut. The man in the pit faced the direction of the
saw cut, to avoid sawdust, and by alternately pulling on the saw, the man could rip a log
into a plank. The work was slow and required so much work that the "sawyer"
became a recognized trade.
Easily read in an evening or two, Down East deserves to
become part of every sailor or would be sailors library. Clearly written and lacking the
pretension found in some Maine resorts, its a book for everyone who loves the sea.
Maine attracts visitors because of its rich maritime history. For
Paine the maritime images of Maine are part of everyday life. But for many visitors, these
images need to be conjured up and savored from time to time. Paine describes the logs
driven down to the Penobscot River to be milled for shipbuilding and export.
He devotes an entire chapter to coastal schooners, the big rigs
of the maritime world during the last half of the 19th-century. Carrying coral,
granite, lumber, lime and other goods, they helped build the economy of towns along the
Maine fosters a conservative nostalgia for tradition and
Paines history carries that well into the 21st century. He has created a
navigational guide to help his readers make their way through centuries of maritime
fortitude and self-reliance. Lovers of Maine and all things to do with the sea will
cherish Lincoln Paines book Down East.