Vern Hobbs has done it again. In June 2010 we reported that Good Old Boat author Vern Hobbs had published his first book. While it was not exactly a sailing book, it was worth mentioning just the same: www.goodoldboat.com/reader_services/news/6-04-10_Vern_Hobbs.php.
That must have sent a message to Vern. He went back to the computer and returned with a sailing book this time. Well, at least it’s about the sailors who congregate around a marina. Come to think of it, these folks didn’t really go sailing much either, although in the happily ever after part of the book we’re pretty sure they all went cruising or scratched whatever boating itch each one had developed over years of liveaboard life in a funky Florida East Coast marina.
While Vern’s first book was full of characters and a bit of detective-style intrigue, his second could be said to be full of caricatures of the liveaboard community and while they are not confronted with a mystery, the reader is. A sailing buddy of theirs has gone off to circumnavigate the globe. Before achieving that goal, however, he dies of cancer in the San Blas Islands. His last request is that a dozen of his marina friends gather to celebrate his life on the autumnal equinox and stay the following day for a reading of his will.
Before the book has progressed very far it becomes clear to the reader that Cal, the sailor who has died, was a very wealthy man. Cal had never let on to his fellow sailors that he was wealthy, however, because he wanted to be accepted at face value. As the story progresses, the reader realizes that something special is coming, although Vern drags out the suspense until the very end. The unsuspecting marina friends invited to Cal’s last dock party have no clue what his will might offer them in terms of money, insight, or special requests. At the risk of spoiling the plot, I’ll just say that he offers each a bit of all of the above, changing their lives and their relationships with each other and their cruising dreams in profound ways.
Once again Vern has developed a charming cast of characters. Just as he is good at developing characters, Vern is good at character development in the fictional people he creates. As the story proceeds, the individual liveaboards of Mudfish Creek evolve first through acts of their own and later through encouragement and some thoughtful nudging by their friend Cal.
Mudfish Creek by Vern Hobbs, (www.flying-fish-creative.com), 2013, 353 pages