Updated:
Original:

Northern Pirate, Southern Hero

"June 30, 1861, CSN Sumter. Mississippi Delta. Bound for the sea. Blazing sun, thick haze.The eyes of Commander Raphael Semmes are burning, and there is nowhere to turn for relief. It’s high tide at Head of the Passes, his only chance to break from the cage Abe Lincoln’s sea boys have built round him and New Orleans. And right now the South’s little bark-rigged raider, the ship channel

"June 30, 1861, CSN Sumter. Mississippi Delta. Bound for the sea. Blazing sun, thick haze.

The eyes of Commander Raphael Semmes are burning, and there is nowhere to turn for relief. It’s high tide at Head of the Passes, his only chance to break from the cage Abe Lincoln’s sea boys have built round him and New Orleans. And right now the South’s little bark-rigged raider, the ship channel ahead, the marsh grass . . . they all look aflame..."

By the time you've finished reading the brief preface to Randall Peffer's new historical novel, Southern Seahawk, set during the Civil War, you'll be aware that you're putting your next few reading days into the hands of an expert. Peffer is not only a skilled writer (and frequent contributor to SAIL over the years), but one with long experience as a working mariner on traditional sailing vessels. The verisimilitude of his description of a devastating storm at sea that results in loss of a U.S. Navy vessel, many of her crew, and the career dreams of her commanding officer will encourage you to stop looking for gaffes in the maritime narrative.

And by the time you finish reading about Rafael Semmes's transformation from disgraced Federal naval officer to Confederate commander of the cruiser Sumter to the Union's public enemy number one at sea, you'll be glad that Southern Seahawk is the first of a planned trilogy. Semmes took more than 80 prizes and devastated Northern commerce from his two ships, Sumter and Alabama. He left a two-volume memoir, and his ships' logs are in the Navy archives. Peffer bases his tale on well-researched facts, brought to life by his novelist's imagination.

Download an excerpt of Randall Peffer's Southern Seahawk.

Click here to watch and listen to an interview with Randall Peffer filmed aboard his schooner, the Sarah Abbott.

Related

ed3b8ae9-b65d-2941-47ec-cd0277bfcbe8

Mirabaud Voting Open to the Public

Photos from the industry's top photographers are in, and the 12th annual Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition is underway. An international panel of judges has selected this year's 80 finalists, which have been published online. The panel will also select the winner of the ...read more

P1320232-copy

Annapolis’ Boat Show is Back

After a year off in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis is back. From the diminutive Areys Pond Cat 14 XFC to the massive Lagoon Sixty 5, many of the SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Nominees are on display for the public to get a firsthand look at, and SAIL’s Best Boats panel ...read more

05-Squall-in-the-ITCZ

Close-Hauled to Hawaii

The saying “Nothing goes to windward like a 747,” is one of my favorites. I actually once took a 747 upwind, retracing my earlier downwind sailing route across the Pacific. I’ve also done a fair bit of ocean sailing to windward. The 747 was a lot more comfortable. But then ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG-2106

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 3

If you missed the first installment, click here. The hull and deck of Shirley Rose had been repaired, but what kind of sailboat would she be without a sturdy rig? I was told she was ready to sail, and that the owner replaced the standing rigging a few years before. Shirley Rose ...read more

211007MINI_1208-2400x1600

Mini Transat: Bouroullec and Fink Win Leg One

The Mini Transat is a roughly 4000-mile course that comprises two legs— Les Sables D’Olonne, France to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries, and Santa Cruz de La Palma to the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe. Two fleets of Mini 6.50s compete—the Production class in ...read more

01-LEAD-7-1-Rhiannon-loaded-on-the-truck-with-Clark,-Andre,-and-Louis

Book Excerpt: Taken By The Wind

In 1975, as a senior at Harvard, the question for Chicago-area sailor Mike Jacker became what to do next. The answer, as related in his new book Taken by the Wind, was to make a small-boat voyage to Tahiti with his grade-school friend Louis Gordon and Harvard classmate Clark ...read more

Maserati _Arthur Daniel

The RORC Caribbean 600 is Back

With a start planned for February 21 in Antigua, the famed 600-mile Caribbean race is back. The course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands starting from English Harbour, Antigua, and heading north to St Maarten and south to Guadeloupe, passing Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and ...read more

01-LEAD-14_00_210613_TORE03_JRE_4266_16961-3000x3000

The Ocean Race Europe

The fully crewed, round-the-world Ocean Race has experienced tremendous change over the years. From the 1993 transition to a one-design fleet to an ever-shifting route, what began as the amateur Whitbread Round the World Yacht Regatta in 1972 is a very different race today. The ...read more