Hungry Mother Festival vendor collects the stories behind boat names

Published online: Jul 15, 2011 News Stephanie Porter-Nichols
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This weekend, Johnny Mac Sturgill will help introduce his wife to Hungry Mother Lake, a place where he spent many summer days as a high school student, camping with friends. The Marion native recalls spending time at the lake with just the clothes on his back and cold cans of pork and beans.

This visit will be different. He's returning as a retiree, ready to help his wife, Linda S. Sturgill, sell copies of her book, "Boats, Their Names and Why," during the three-day Hungry Mother Festival. Linda is joining publisher Ken Henderson of Henderson Publishing for a joint book signing at the 38th annual event, which features more than 100 exhibitors of arts and crafts, food and more.
Linda said the idea for the book was born from simple curiosity. She and Johnny Mac now live most of the year in their Smith Mountain Lake home, but the couple heads to Ft. Myers, Fla., in the winter months. In both locales, boats are a common feature. Linda said they would notice "unusual boat names on boats and yachts and wonder why a particular name was chosen."
The first answers she got piqued her curiosity. After asking a few captains "why the name and getting unexpected answers, I was more intrigued to ask others. It just kept tugging at me when seeing a named boat - what's the story? So much so, after taking 4,000 photographs of boats and after many interviews, the book was born."

The publication was something of a team effort. Linda explained that Johnny Mac "drove the boat and kept the camera in working order while she photographed the boats and wrote the book."
She took more than 4,000 photographs, eventually culling them down to 1,000 of boats from Virginia, 1,000 of boats from all over the country, and a few from international locations.

"The names and stories were just too good not to share," said Linda, who, nearly a year after the book's release, is still amazed by its completion and the revelation of her inner spark. "I never had considered writing a book or doing anything this `creative' after 30+ years in bank management with so much compliance."


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