RYE WRITES: Sailing into Treacherous Waters with Jim Ruddle

Jim Ruddle is the kind of guy that middle-aged men used to dream of being while sitting at their desks on upper floors of skyscrapers, having been asked to do one more dumb thing by their boss or to attend yet another HR training program.

Published July 17, 2014 5:00 AM
3 min read

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ryewrites-thJim Ruddle is the kind of guy that middle-aged men used to dream of being while sitting at their desks on upper floors of skyscrapers, having been asked to do one more dumb thing by their boss or to attend yet another HR training program.

 

Sailboats are about the prettiest things that a man ever made.

– Luke Constance

 

Jim Ruddle is the kind of guy that middle-aged men used to dream of being while sitting at their desks on upper floors of skyscrapers, having been asked to do one more dumb thing by their boss or to attend yet another HR training program.

In Ruddle’s case, the powers that be in local Chicago news wanted to emphasize news-lite over what he thought were far more important stories. Having been an award-winning newscaster for years and, luckily, a diligent saver and investor, Ruddle really did sail into the sunset.

Actually, he sailed into many sunsets in a 35-foot sailboat around the Great Lakes for four years.

Ruddle learned to sail on lakes in Oklahoma where he grew up. Later, he learned a lot more about boats in the North Atlantic while in the Coast Guard. All of that happened years before he moved to Blind Brook Lodge on Milton Road.

ryewritesIf there is one thing Ruddle loves as much as sailing, it’s reading, which he did prodigiously all his life. Both of Jim’s parents were great readers and his mother taught him to read when he was 4.

Given that combination, it’s no wonder that Ruddle became an author himself, penning a novel, “My Name Is Luke,” which was just published by Amika Press. It is also no big surprise that it is a sailing novel, about a 15 year-old Marblehead boy who is kidnapped aboard his grandfather’s boat, the Mary Constance in 1858.

If you’re thinking “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped,” or Huckleberry Finn,” you wouldn’t be far off. Ruddle admirers all of those works of fiction, and Marblehead just happens to be one of his favorite places to sail his current 22-foot – Narragansett and Buzzard’s bays are a couple of others.

Luke, whose father died at sea when he was 2 and his mother shortly afterwards, is a normal kid for his time and place, except that he was raised by his grandparents. He plays pranks with his pal Ez and has a crush on Agatha. He is also particularly well-read, a trait that adds to his narrative. In his spare time, he reads to workers in local shoemaking shops.

Luke knows more about schooners than many sailors much older than he and tells his tale with wit. His predicament and how he deals with it – we can’t give away the story – will test all of his resources and courage if he is to survive.

“My Name is Luke” is available at Arcade Books and online.

— Tom McDermott

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