Book sailing – “Only So Many Tides”

I have been reading and enjoying Jon Wainwright’s book. He spent nearly four decades sailing a traditional wooden boat – locally referred to as a nobby (although he wasn’t totally convinced) from the north west, which he brought through the canals across England to the east coast and down to Felixstowe and the south east.

Aged forty he found himself getting excessively tired and discovered he had a heart condition. This had the prospect of slowing him up considerably. Nevertheless he kept sailing – both cruising and racing with the Old Gaffers.

A particular passage resonated:

“Obviously, time was not on my side, and it made me realise that there were only so many tides that Deva and I were going to catch. That is the problem of having a real concept of mortality. I see so many people who embark bravely on big rebuilds of smacks and other larger vessels, reckoning to take five years and often taking ten or more. I could not conceive of that possibility. Even if I survived the effort of rebuilding a boat, how fit would I be to sail for much longer afterwards? Some of the rebuilders who are fit when they start probably are not so when they finish; the broker’s advertisements feature vessels from such situations. But they do not see it in that way. They laugh about being knocked down by a bus, but do not believe it will happen to them.

So my situation meant that work on Deva is not a cabinet-maker’s standard. It is fit for purpose, not built for posterity. The decks are painted, not laid teak. Some jobs are neglected . . .”

I know how he felt.

Time and tide . . .