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richard purinton | local author to appear on WDOR

Crossing Death’s Door in Fall | Photo by Paula Hedeen


Washington Island ferry captain/writer, Richard Purinton, WORDS ON WATER, A Ferryman’s Journal, will be a guest on WDOR, “Talk Show with Eddy Allen,” 93.9 FM, 910 AM, Friday, October 23rd at 11:20 A.M.

A limited, first edition of the book was published by Cross+Roads Press in June and sold out by August. A larger, second printing was immediately ordered and made available by September.

This stunning photo by Paula Hedeen, dramatically captures the Washington Island ferry making another crossing through Death’s Door in the gusty, wet and wild days of late autumn and serves as a vivid reminder of all that Dick Purinton captures in his life and ‘words on water.’ It’s a compelling tale of island living, both current and historical.

The publisher urges one and all to ‘listen-in’ this Friday on WDOR. He further suggests that readers, lovers of Door County, continue to keep the book alive by word-of-mouth—and keep it in mind as we enter the holiday season.

WORDS ON WATER is available by mail order, check to: Cross+Roads Press PO Box 33, Ellison Bay, WI. 54210, $19.95 plus $2.75 Postage

Books are also available at the following locations in Door County: The Maritime Museum, (Sturgeon Bay); Main Street Market (Egg Harbor); Novel Ideas (Baileys Harbor); Passtimes Books, Book World (Sister Bay); William Caxton Books Ltd, (Ellison Bay); The Washington Island Ferry Terminal and Islandtime Books (Washington Island).

Unsolicited Testimonials

  • Congratulations on selling out the first printing and in record time! C.H.
  • A great review [Charlie Calkins, The Pulse]. Congratulations on doing such a great job with Purinton’s book. It’s one for the ages. B.V.
  • Thank you for encouraging Dick to write the journal. I am enjoying it. K.M.
  • We would like to order 2 copies of Words on Water by Richard Purinton– Neenah Public Library
  • Thanks for the heads up – yes, I would like a copy. After your post, I went to his blog and found it very interesting – a mix of the technical and people/community/weather observations. Reminded me of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” reality show — — portraying the life on the sea for Alaska’s crab fishermen. Great photos, too. So much wisdom out there. I am glad Cross+Roads is giving him voice. P.K
  • I am so excited about this book. Congratulations on selling out the first printing so fast. Excellent reviews. P.H-M.
  • This is excellent! …. You’ve drunk boldly from the intoxicating chalice of success…. J.W.
  • it makes my heart sing to see an edition of anything from an independent press SELL OUT! J.B.
  • You heard about the shortest exchange of messages known in the publishing world? Apparently Victor Hugo was vacationing at the sea and wanted to know how Les Miserables was doing, sent a card that said “?” and got a card back that said “!”. Apocryphal or not, somehow I knew that Words on Water would be a great success. Paul S. PS being the good reference librarian I checked online and found in Wikipedia, ‘The book was a great commercial success. The shortest correspondence in history is between Hugo and his publisher Hurst & Blackett in 1862. It is said Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables (which is over 1200 pages) was published. He telegraphed the single-character message “?” to his publisher, who replied with a single “!”.’
  • Congrats but that comes as no surprise — wonderful both for you and your captain. I bet that book is selling out to the tourist trade. My god, nb — you goin’ commercial? Biga love, B
  • Oh, and I just Love that Words on Water book…. it is so evocative of Door County It brings back so many memories. And it is extremely well written. Thanks so much for sending a copy. I was up until all hours reading it.. D.T.
  • …like that she [Barbara Vroman, review DCT, WA] compares it to “BallyKiss” & its draw of closeknit / smallness ~ this accurately describes the appeal of Purinton’s writing for me; I’m reading it a day at a time, so I can start my day with the feeling of being home. You saw that coming for readers ~~~ JAKxox
  • I’m sending a check along for three “Words on Water” special editions. I have friends on Washington Island and want to see that they have signed copies. C.H.
  • Thanks for this, Norb. Nice memory…I recall us going over to Washington Island on the ferry…..A.F.
  • …We are looking for 12 [copies] of them … L.D.
  • Just returned home to find Dick’s book had arrived “hot off the press”.. Congratulations!!! Although I have not read it–just skimmed it–the book looks great. Did you come up with the title? I really appreciate it… Again, congratulations on a job well done!!! C.C.
  • A gentleman named Klaus in France kindly provided your e-mail address to me. I would REALLY like to purchase a copy of Dick’s new book that I just read about in the Washington Island Observer, April 30, 2009 issue that arrived at our home in Colorado yesterday (5/1). I’ve been a visitor to Washington Island since 1939 when the ferries were the Welcome and the North Shore. Please let me know if there’s a way I can buy a copy, even one of the Special Editions but I’d guess that’d be difficult. Best regards, B.T.
  • I am interested in purchasing “Words on Water” for Wisconsin’s Water Library at UW Madison. A.M.
  • I was listening to Wis. Public Radio today and the interview of Richard Purinton. My family has had ties to Door County since the 1960’s. We visit the county each Summer and have made some trips to Washington Island on the car ferry… It sounds very interesting. –F.W.W.
  • Listening to Dick’s interview. Again, thanks for the heads up. Good for you to motivate him to write the journal. I smiled when I heard Dick say that he had met you on the ferry and you had suggested the journal to him and later sent a notebook and pen to get him going. Well done! –G.B.
  • It doesn’t matter if I’m on the “Patron’s List” as I would just like to receive an autographed copy. It looks to be a great read. –R.G.B.
  • We would like to order 8 copies of “Words on Water.” C.M.

Publisher Norbert Blei introduced Dick Purinton to an attentive audience at the Sister Bay Public Library on Saturday, December 5, 2009. Blei inspired Purinton to keep a journal for a year recording his thoughts about weather, operating a ferry boat company, and day-to-day life living on an island. The journal has been turned into a wonderful book entitled “Words on Water: a Ferryman’s Journal, Washington Island, WI”. Purinton is a gifted writer and a talented storyteller. If you haven’t read it yet, check out a copy from your local library, or order one from Cross + Roads Press: P.O. Box 33, Ellison Bay, WI 54210. Tim Sweet


  1. David Dix

    Yea, though I’ve not sailed through the valley and wavy shadows of Death’s Door in some years, this book, with the two friends I’ve given it to, stirred us deeply.

    One, a CA retired attorney, practiced artist, and NPR documentary-doer on Nepal’s high-altitude Dolpo tribe, was a ‘ferryer’ with me in the 70’s. Along with him, as a former cabdriver, a ferryer for the Milw. Boynton Yellow Cab Co., I know the challenging responsibility of safely transporting travelers from A to B.

    Land or sea, it’s awesome, especially so when the route is through the Portes de Morts. Purinton’s journal of his piloting twixt Northport and Washington Island for years, trustworthily back and forth, is an important and delightful read.

    (Hail the NB COOP NEWS!)

    David Dix, Waukesha WI

  2. Jujitsu Wiker

    THIS TOO? Oh goodie! In spirit, I shall crack some bubbly on the bow of the Coop in celebration of yet another web masterpiece launched into cyberspace.

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