November 14th, 2020

Boats

I'm a good sailor, I've never been seasick- and I'm not afraid to be out on the water, but...

...It's the confinement I dislike. To see for miles and miles and yet be unable to access any of that space because you're stuck in a funny little tub- I find that hard. If I went on a long ocean voyage I'd spend much of my time wishing I was a bird...

In the Hornblower books, C.S. Forester has his hero pacing backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, imagining (or am I making this bit up) that he's strolling over open country or parkland or rolling hills or anything but a nasty splintery deck. That'd be me- assuming I was an officer, of course, and had access to the time and space in which to take that kind of exercise. But if I were a common seaman...

We romanticise Nelson's navy, but I don't see that the common sailors were much better than slaves. Many of them had been press-ganged (meaning kidnapped), their living conditions were atrocious and any flicker of disobedience or rebellion was punished brutally. Captain Bligh had it coming.

Nelson, by the way, as we're now finding out- was an enthusiast for the institution of slavery- to the extent of launching his "voice against the damnable and cursed doctrine of Wilberforce and his hypocritical allies.” And is that really any surprise when he was- to all intents and purposes (in his capacity as a Royal Naval officer)- a slave driver himself?

I have wandered from the point, which was to say how much I love boats- as objects- just so long as I don't have to travel on them. A week and a half ago I went for a walk on the beach at Hastings- and took pictures of the fishing boats. They are just so, so beautiful...