In scientist Bradley G. Stevens’s The Ship, the Saint, and the Sailor, a 143-year-old shipwreck is recovered; the narrative tracks its discovery and preservation.
The Kad’yak sank in an Alaskan harbor almost a century and a half before Stevens’s adventure. As his fascination with the boat grew and as he studied the captain’s navigational path to determine its resting place, the possibility of uncovering the ice-trading cargo ship became not just a dream but a distinct possibility.
Images of the crew and their time spent on the boat and underwater are included, as are detailed maps and timelines of the Kad’yak‘s recovery. Journal entries from Stevens’s days at sea searching for the wreck and from the time of its discovery add a real-time flavor to the journey, as do accounts of the dangers the crew met while diving toward the ship.
Alaska’s land and sea are beautifully described, showcasing Stevens’s deep love for nature. Such details also bring into clarity how dangerous the mission was. Refreshingly honest anecdotes about mistakes, regrets, and difficulties show the human side of the risky undertaking.
Though the book is heavy on facts, Stevens also conveys his deep longing to understand the historical details behind the Kad’yak’s sinking; his curiosity adds a necessary storytelling element to the text. Realistic details, such as about the legalities involved in claiming the wreck and the money that it took to preserve the ship, as well as the history around Russian-Alaskan trade during the time of its sinking, are eye-opening and revealing.
The Ship, the Saint, and the Sailor is poetic in its approaches to the landscape but is also a factual account that teases out the unseen sides of discovering a shipwreck.
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