Peter Muilenburg Releases New Book “A Sea Dog’s Tale”


A Sea Dog’s Tale

Following up on his popular collection of seafaring tales in “Adrift on a Sea of Blue Light,” St. John sailing icon and author Peter Muilenburg is at it again.

This time it’s the Muilenburg family dog Santos who takes center stage in “A Sea Dog’s Tale: The True Story of a Small Dog on a Big Ocean,” printed by Cadent Publishing of Maine.

Muilenburg recently moved back to the states after years of living on St. John and logging thousands of miles, along with his wife Dorothy, twos sons and schipperke Santos, on his classic schooner Breath.

With “A Sea Dog’s Tale” Muilenburg’s distinct voice is back, once again alive with wondrous adventures and moving family moments; it’s like having an old friend sharing some of his favorite stories.

While the book is due to hit local bookshelves — look for it at Papaya Cafe, Bamboula, St. John Spice Company, Maho Bay Campground and more later this month — this collection of stories was actually penned before “Adrift.”

“I wrote it some years before ‘Adrift on a Sea of Blue Light,’” said Muilenburg. “It was written in its entirety and I tried to get it accepted by some big publishing companies. After a few rejections, I figured I’d try to put out some other stories instead.”

With the success of “Adrift” Muilenburg once again submitted the “Sea Dog’s Tale” stories and this time found some interest.

“A former editor of mine who was with a big firm ended up going out and forming his own small publishing company with a colleague of his,” said the author. “They had liked the book the first time I had sent it in, but thought the timing wasn’t right. This time they were excited to publish it.”

Anyone wondering if one little schipperke could possibly have experienced enough adventures to fill a 268-page book, must not have crossed paths with the inimitable Santos. Muilenburg sets readers straight about the special dog right from the Preface.

“A biography of a dog?

“Why not? Since long before Zoroaster declared them sacred, people have loved dogs; and ever since Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, literature has valued accounts of exceptional lives, for their own sake as well as for the light they cast on their times.

“So…this book details such a life, that of Santos, a noble dog. Hey, don’t laugh; after all, the choice spirits of an age come to animals as well as to people. As much as Pericles or Brutus, the story of Santos illuminates its little corner of life and history, and it provides a new twist on a timeless subject — seafaring.

“And after all, people are a lot like dogs. Of all the animals, dogs are probably the closest to us in spirit (if we charitably draw a veil over war, soccer hooliganism, child abuse, and classroom massacres), and they present us with a model of life that is recognizably close to our own.”

The dog did live a life of travel and excitement of which only a few brave souls even dream.

“Santos, a schipperke, came to us as a tiny puppy and sailed with us all his life, 75,000 deep-sea miles. He sailed four times across the Atlantic, crisscrossed the Caribbean, ranged far up African rivers, gunkholed the Eastern seaboard of America, and explored the Med.

“He survived kidnap, hurricane, raging surf, and being lost overboard. We gave him up for dead twice. His adventures were written up in SAIL magazine and were the subject of two Reader’s Digest articles. Time and again people who met him on charter aboard his boat Breath went home and acquired schipperkes of their own. He was a celebrity on his home island of St. John. Charisma streamed off him. He may have been an 11-pound dog, but he strode through life like a lion.”

It’s obvious from the very outset of the book just how special Santos was to the entire Muilenburg family.

“Santos joined us during Breath’s maiden voyage and was there, an integral member of the crew, throughout our family voyaging, when Breath made her most memorable trips and when our two sons formed their tight bonds with each other, with their dog, and with the sea. He was a third brother and an inspiration to our family — an authentic, questing adventurer, without fear or compromise, true to himself and to us. Climbing a mountain in the Cape Verdes, running before a North Atlantic gale, discovering ancient ruins in Turkey — always the dog’s keen spirit augmented the event.

“When our sons left the nest, our era of family voyaging passed and, not long after, Santos left us, too. He checked out quick and clean and left a lasting memory behind — of an incandescent spirit like a bright, steadfast little flame.

“He showed us how to live, and he showed us how to die.

“One thing we know for sure — we’ll never have a dog that cool again.”

Be sure to look for “A Sea Dog’s Tale” on local bookshelves later this month. The book is also available on Amazon and Kindle.