In The Pilot (1824), James Fenimore Cooper invented a new literary genre: the sea novel. Bold, vigorous, original, it is a tale of high adventure that vividly captures the majesty and power of the seafaring life. Cooper drew on his direct knowledge of ships and sailors to present a truer picture of life on the sea than had ever before achieved in literature. As a boy of seventeen he had experienced the life of a common seaman, learned the craft of sailing, encountered terrifying storms, was chased by pirates, and watched the impressment of crew members by a British man-of-war.The Pilot is loosely based upon stories of John Paul Jones's daring hit-and-run tactics during the Revolutionary War. The shadowy hero, modeled on Jones, leads a squadron of the infant American navy in a series of raids on the English coast, braving fierce storms and the guns of hostile warships, yet never revealing his identity. In this novel Cooper introduced the character of the old salt," the seasoned deckhand happy only aboard ship.