A monthly book club discussing works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that have the Great Lakes as a setting or as subject matter. This month’s selection is Deckhand: Life on Freighters of the Great Lakes by Nelson Haydamaker and Alan D. Millar.
With numerous photographs and engaging stories, Deckhand offers an insider’s view of both the mundane and intriguing duties performed by deckhands on ore boats. Boisterous port saloons, monster ice jams, near drownings, and the daily drudgery of soogeying–cleaning dirt and grime off the ships–are just a few of the experiences Mickey Haydamacker had as a young deckhand working on freighters of the Great Lakes in the early 1960s. Haydamacker sailed five Interlake Steamship Company boats, from the modern Elton Hoyt 2nd to the ancient coal-powered Colonel James Pickands with its backbreaking tarp-covered hatches.
Deckhand will appeal to shipping buffs and to anyone interested in Great Lakes shipping and maritime history as it chronicles the adventures of living on the lakes from the seldom-seen view of a deckhand.