On the Water: Discovering America in a Rowboat

By Nathaniel Stone

An exhiliarating chronicle of one man's attempt to row about the "eastern island" of the U.S. in a 17-foot scull. A remarkable, original tour of America & the cultures that line its shores. 5x8 inches, 256 pgs.


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Few people have ever considered the eastern United States to be an island, but when Nat Stone began tracing waterways in his new atlas at the age of ten, he discovered that if one had a boat, it was possible to use a combination of rivers, lakes, and canals to travel up the Hudson River, across the barge canals, down the Mississippi River, and back up the eastern seaboard. Years later, still fascinated by the idea of "rowing the circle", Stone read a biography of Howard Blackburn, a 19-century Gloucester fisherman who had tried to sail around the eastern United States, without completion. So he decided to launch his scull beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and see how far he could get. After 10 months, 6000 miles, and 2 million strokes---which took him up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, down the Allegheny to the Ohio and the Mississippi, and finally around Key West to head north along the Atlantic coastline--he arrived at his goal: Eastport, Maine.

Retracing Stone's extraordinary voyage and recalling his encounters and chance adventures with characters he met along the way, On the Water is a marvelous portrait of the vibrant cultures inhabiting American shores. In lyrical, timeless prose reminiscent of William Least Heat-Moon and Henry David Thoreau, Stone flavors his narrative with local history and lore, introduces readers to those who rely on the water for livelihoods or rejuvenation, and records the evolution of what started out as an adventure, but became a lifestyle. A tribute to childhood dreams, solitary journeys, and the tranformative powers of America's aquatic byways, On the Water is a perfect summer escape for armchair travelers and boat lovers everywhere.

Nathaniel Stone
, a graduate of Brown University, is a former teacher whose journey around the eastern United States was featured in The Boston Globe. He currently lives in Zuni, New Mexico, where he founded the local newspaper.


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