Messing about in boats

Seafaring nations have the ocean in common, but not all are as intimate with the seven seas as Portugal and England. (Spain, the third great maritime power which sent its ships out to explore and conquer, has considerably more inland territory, and thus is less informed by the sea.)
It’s not too great a claim, then, to say that I have the sea in my blood, even though my heritage is not entirely English. Though I can’t claim any connection with the notorious Captain Kidd other than the name, my father (English to the core) spent WWII on minesweepers— a hazardous and unpleasant business he rarely spoke of.
I am drawn to the sea, involved with islands, content upon the water— although the biggest craft I’ve ever captained was a sailing dinghy. I would be in heaven on a sailing ship, even though I know that when they ruled the oceans life on board tended to be nasty, brutish and short. On the water, for me, peace is easy to come by. If there’s a boat trip to be had when I’m on vacation, we are first in the queue and I’m first on board.
Not that I’m claiming any of this qualifies me to write about life on board a barque in the early years of the twentieth century, as sail surrenders its mastery of the seas to steam. But I can feel the huge rush and boom of a world made of wind on a ship under full sail, taste the salt spray, and be perfectly content. It’s a most exhilarating thing, even if it is all a product of my imagination.


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