Captain Hale’s Covenant

Written by Thomas E. Crocker
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Captain Adam Hale is a blockade runner during the American Revolution. Beginning in 1783, he decides to put his maritime experience to use in building a wide-ranging merchant business centered on seafaring trade. At the same time, he is raising a family along with his dear wife, Nabby. As the years pass, Captain Hale must navigate not only through dangerous seas but also through shifting alliances among the various European powers. American mariners tend to be canny entrepreneurs, and Hale is among the best of them.

Operating out of his home port of Portland, Maine, he enlists the aid of his sons in exploiting the market for ships’ masts constructed of good Maine timber. Trading partners include the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese but, depending on the year and political conditions, these same partners can become military enemies of the young United States, which makes the Captain’s task infinitely more difficult. He and his sons must also determine what it means to be an American in service to one’s country and to be God-fearing Christians. Given the dangerous times, it is not unexpected when Captain Hale experiences both business losses and family tragedies. He continually strives to persevere through it all.

Spanning from 1783 to 1822, this multi-generational novel is both a sentimental family saga and a rip-roaring, action-filled adventure of sailing ship battles in the Atlantic. The reader must also be prepared for intermittent passages of philosophical and religious introspection. There were a few historical anecdotes which surprised and fascinated me especially as to the importance of Maine in trade and commerce at the time—it’s a very interesting period, when an infant country was just beginning to spread its wings. Recommended.