The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death… Joseph Conrad


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Treachery at Sharpnose Point : unraveling the mystery of the Caledonia’s final voyage  Jeremy Seal  New York : Harcourt, c 2001  Hardcover. 1st ed. Maps of the English coast, including the Bristol Channel on endpapers. 316 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [309]-313). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

NPG D35614; Robert Hawker by William Blake, published by  A.A. Paris, after  John Ponsford

While walking through a cliff-top graveyard in the town of Morwenstow on the coast of Cornwall, the author encounters a wooden Scottish figurehead that once adorned the Caledonia, a ship wrecked on the English coast in 1842. Through further investigation, Seal begins to suspect the townspeople, and chiefly the town’s parson, Robert Hawker, for the Caledonia’s demise on the jagged shores below.

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Though no one has ever been brought to court for “wrecking” – luring ships ashore to loot the cargo – it’s a commonly held belief that this sort of cruelty did take place. But, is that what happened in Morwenstow? Having meticulously researched maritime logs, broadsides of the day, and other first-hand documents, Seal weaves history, travelogue, and imaginative reconstruction into this marvelous piece of detective work, bringing us a mystery of the best kind – the sort that really did happen.

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