Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain, 1808-1833

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Viking, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 270 pages
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In the current wave of seafaring literature -- from Patrick O'Brian to C. S. Forester -- no fictional sailor's story can match this true, real-life adventure. Growing up in Boston with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Tyng first followed the call of the sea at age thirteen, going, to China and back as a ship's boy. Over the next twenty-five years he rose through the ranks and made his fortune as a captain and ship owner in the tea and sugar trade.

Before the Wind reads like a novel: the rich, wry observations of a curious mind wedded to a sensitive soul and a toughened body. With Tyng we roam the world of the early nineteenth century: sighting the first Atlantic steamship bound for Russia, visiting Lord Byron in Italy and opium dens in Hong Kong, and skirting Napoleon's prison isle of St. Helena. We sail into Havana Harbor and meet King Kamehameha of Hawaii and his three queens. We learn to shin up the rigging, pump out a leaky brig, siphon rum from the captain's cask, and allay its aftereffects with pepper sauce. From pirates and mutinies to shipwrecks and cholera, Tyng's eye for detail is sharp and his storytelling as fresh as an offshore breeze. Armchair travelers, history buffs, and lovers of Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm will long to run away to sea with Before the Wind.

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User Review  - Ella_Jill - LibraryThing

This book was published by the author’s descendant who found it. The memoirs describe the author’s career working on merchant ships, from ship boy to captain, during which he made 18 various trips. I ... Read full review

Before the wind: the memoir of an American sea captain, 1808-1833

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

When Tyng (1801-79), not quite 14 years old, embarked from Boston as a "sailor boy" on the merchant ship Cordelia for a year-and-a-half voyage around the world to China and back, it was an event that ... Read full review


A Boston Boyhood
First Voyage I
Return to China

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About the author (1999)

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