I found John Howlett’s book in my favourite second-hand bookshop – Books by the Sea in Bude.
‘Mostly About Boats’ could have been the title of this blog.
Three pages in: “We are so controlled and directed and generally bedevilled from the cradle to the grave, that any activity engendering personal initiative and self-reliance – qualities in serious danger of extinction, is surely laudable in itself . . .”
I’m beginning to like this man.
Talking of a trip to Flushing and the Scheldt, “. . . we were so fortunate as to see a Schevingen Bom. Nearly as broad as she was long and completely rectangular, save that the angles were rounded off, she was immensely strong, and was built to run in anywhere on the sands, where she was loaded or unloaded from carts at low water. Like so many things of character and individuality, they are now extinct.”
. . . and about cruising: “Escapism? Well, that is an easy taunt to throw at those who ignore the values of the herd; but if we seek contentment and, perhaps, some enlightenment on those same values, here is a road for those who will take it.”
. . . and then a sentence that resonates: “The flood of man’s ingenuity has overwhelmed his power to create beauty.”
I looked at the short biography of the author on the cover – Mr Howlett, the Editor of the Cruising Association Bulletin, who calls his book a “hydrobiograpy” . . .
The date of publication? – 1956.
He must have been more or less the same age as I am now.
What would he think of 2010?