Ready About by Dave Gale
Review in The Abaconian by Jennifer Hudson

One of the newest books in the bookshops is Ready About, Voyages of Life in the Abaco Cays, by Dave Gale. This is a book to be enjoyed by visitors and Abaconians alike. I was loaned a copy of the book to take with me on a recent trip to the U.S. and what a delightful travel companion it was.

Dave writes with an in depth knowledge of his subjects and a style which is both picturesque and humorous. Shining throughout the book is Mr. Gale’s deep love of the sea with all its moods and creatures and also for his island home on beautiful Parrot Cay. His entertaining and informative narratives have been published in Skin Diver, Sail, Southern Boating, Keepers Log, Sea History, Abaco Life and other magazines.

Mr. Gale hails from the shores of Long Island Sound, New York. There he met his wife, Phoebe, in junior high school and they married in 1953 as soon as she graduated from college and he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. Aside from Phoebe, boats were Dave’s only interest since boyhood. A year after their marriage, Dave and Phoebe were invited by friends Eric and Ruth Lundgren to visit their home, Newhope, in Hope Town. As they peered through the windows of the five-seater plane at "the aqua jewel of Hope Town harbour," Dave knew that he would never return to his former home as this was where he belonged. After four and a half years in Hope Town where he and Phoebe adapted to the rigours of island life in the fifties, they took a lease on Parrot Cay for the sum of ten pounds sterling a year ($28) and began creating Island Marine which, after much hard work, developed into a flourishing business.

Ready About is not only an account of Dave’s experiences but is a treasure trove of information on wildlife such as frigate birds and on marine life including turtles, stingrays, "Old Three Spot," Dave’s barracuda buddy and the "Octogroupercrab." It is an enlightening history book covering such topics as wrecking and buried treasure, the birth of BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association), Hope Town in the fifties, mail boats and lighthouses, to name a few. These charming vignettes are then grouped together by theme to form a series of what the author terms Voyages.

One delightful description is of Fletcher and Birdie Bethel, an elderly couple who were the Hope Town Rope Makers in the fifties. It tells how Pa Fletch in his wide-brimmed straw hat and Miss Birdie in her faded flour sack dress made their rope out of old, worn hawsers discarded from inter-island freight boats. They would use two contraptions which Pa Fletch had built and which "looked a little like the push scooters we used to have as kids." With Miss Birdie "using her considerable weight to keep the contraptions from moving" the strands were twisted into a highly marketable rope.

In another tale, Message Misread, the author gives an amusing account of a rescue he was asked to assist in by BASRA, which turned out to be rather "suspicious." Dave’s account of his attempt to earn a dollar in his early days on the cay by selling homemade Lizard Life Rafts also elicits a chuckle.

Not only did I enjoy this book immensely but also gained a great deal of knowledge from it and highly recommend it for anyone’s bookshelf.