Turning an old boat mold into a new sailboat

By Floyd Inkjet

JOTR Book Review Editor

Was it magic?

Anything but, writes reporter, author and blogger Joel Thurtell in this collection of essays about the joys and trials of transforming an industrial artifact into a functioning sailboat.

PLUG NICKEL contains 20 of some 60 columns Thurtell wrote for Flashes, the newsletter of the International Lightning Class Association. Thurtell’s columns have been credited with igniting interest in restoring old wooden Lightnings. The first version of PLUG NICKEL was published in 2001, when Thurtell and his boat, “Plug Nickel,” took part in a celebration of Lightning sailboat history at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.

The first of a projected multi-volume series of books containing Thurtell’s popular boat columns, PLUG NICKEL stresses that the author is a layperson, not a trained woodworker or boat builder. Yet he managed – on a limited budget – to convert an old fiberglass boat mold into a working sailboat.

 A constant theme in PLUG NICKEL is that if Joel Thurtell can do it, so can you.

Thurtell was a newspaper reporter for more than thirty years at the Detroit Free Press and the South Bend Tribune.  His blog, joelontheroad.com, was named “best example of an independent blogger raising hell” by MetroTimes, Detroit’s alternative newspaper.

He is the author of UP THE ROUGE! PADDLING DETROIT’S HIDDEN RIVER, published in 2009 by Wayne State University Press, and he produced an audio book of UP THE ROUGE!

Other books by Thurtell are, PLUG NICKEL, a collection of essays about restoring a wooden sailboat, SHOESTRING REPORTER, a how-to book for aspiring journalists with the subtitle, HOW I GOT TO BE A BIG CITY REPORTER WITHOUT GOING TO J SCHOOL AND HOW YOU CAN DO IT TOO! and his debut novel, CROSS PURPOSES, OR, IF NEWSPAPERS HAD COVERED THE CRUCIFIXION.

He’s also the author of SEYDOU’S CHRISMAS TREE, an inspiring book for all ages about what a Muslim youth taught him and his wife about Christmas when they were Peace Corps volunteers in West Africa.


Hardalee Press  ($16)

ISBN: 978-0-9759969-2-8

LC: 2009906578

For interviews, contact:

Joel Thurtell



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