[lit-ideas] Re: The Yachtman's Library

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 19:10:26 -0800

Two books that any self-respecting arm-chair sailor must have in his library
are 1) The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst.  Crowhurst and what
happened to him is an interesting puzzle.  And The Long Voyage by Bernard
Moitessier.  Crowhurst was a nutty controlling genius who was so smart he
outsmarted himself - or else had an epiphany at sea - or else decided he
could walk on water.  And who but a Frenchman could win the around the world
race only to decide not to go across the finish line but to keep on sailing?
Crowhurst at least was goal oriented, but Moitessier was a mystic - and a
national hero in France I understand.  "My real log is written in the sea
and sky; the sails talking with the rain and the stars amid the sounds of
the sea, the silences full of secret things between my boat & me, like the
times I spent as a child listening to the forest talk."  Perhaps one can be
satisfied reading about Crowhurst once, but Moitessier must be reread
several times.

 

Lawrence

 

From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 6:25 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] The Yachtman's Library

 

"I could have gone down there from time to 
time and climbed up inside and read some of those books you are talking
about."

 

Yes, indeed. So many good reads!

 

I rather recently got hold of the two-volume edition -- published by
Abercrombie and Fitch --, my favourite designer --, no less, on The Crusade
of the Falcon.

 

One learns so _much_ about it; it's so far from the days of political
correctness. The author's description of inland Argentina is just a delight.

 

I believe that you cannot know a _country_ unless you are familiar with the
_coast_ of the country, and so I pity Switzerland.

 

I also pity Sancho Panza who in Don Quixote is awarded with Barataria -- "an
island totally surrounded by land".

 

The idea _is_ stupid, but if you think of it, The Isle of Thanet, Kent, is
not what it _used_ to be.

 

Californian coast, I'm not too familiar with, although I know my Berkeley.
But I'm not familiar with marinas and things, and don't see much point in
sailing INSIDE a bay, anyway.

 

"Baja California" sounds interesting too.

 

This book on Long Island Sound is from a series of Sailing in New England,
and must say New England is (except for the weather) the yachtman's
paradise, although the coast gets _very_ complicated in the Newport area,
and the funny shape of Cape Cod, not to mention the difficulties one can
foresee in MAINE!

 

I'm not familiar with the coastline south of the Long Island Sound, or even
the Caribbean. Of South America, just with Rio de La Plata, from Punta del
Este (Uruguay, the official mark of the River Plate) to the imaginary line
that contacts it with Cabo San Antonio in San Borombon Bay in the Province
of Buenos Aires, and which is the southern boundary of the aforementioned
River Plate.

 

My _focus_ of interest indeed upstream river from, say, Samborombon to, say
Boca de Riachuelo. We have some good historical spots there, like the
Ensenada de Barragan -- and the La Plata Regatta Club -- where the Brits
tried to invade way back in 1805 --. The Quilmes Sailing Club, where
(nearby) the Brits tried to invade for a second time -- and the monster that
is the Buenos Aires harbour itself.

 

I read that Buenos Aires treasures the ONLY art-deco lighthouse in the
world. It looks rather gay to me, but must have to do with that idea of
fashion that people thought to associate with Buenos Aires once. Give me the
old New England rough lighthouse (or beaker, what's the point of a _house_),
I say.

 

North of Buenos Aires, up the River Plate, it all becomes too muddy for me,
and the delta is a disaster and more of a _rowing_ country than a _sailing_
one. 

 

In his Autobiography, Noel Coward retells how he sailed downstream from
Iguazu to Buenos Aires, and apparently he had fun, but then he was gay, and
he keeps sprinkling his stupid autobiography on how he was flirting the son
of the Brazilian ambassador ('of a very Aryan type', he hasten to add, lest
we think the youth was a 'native'). 

 

Mediterranean literature is very abundant, and it mixes with the historical
when one thinks of Nelson (Trafalgar, Minorca) and even the Roman Aurelia
and Heraclea Way -- which went all the way from Rome to Gibraltar -- the
Pillars of Hercules. 

 

Mouton has a series of which I have the "Sea of Seas" volume -- on the
Mediterranean -- and the Long Island Sound one.

 

Must say that the Long Island Sound is more of a restricted interest. One
harbour tends to look exactly like the next -- and even the Sailing Guide to
Long Island Sound -- in the Boating Series -- is a boring read unless you
count some interesting anectdotes like on Sachem's Head in Guilford, or the
bird reservations in "Fairfield County".

 

Even IRELAND I did some research on the coast of, mainly in trying to assist
a book club who was fighting with Finnegans Wake and the opening line --
riverrun into the Castle of Howth. You _have_ to know the geography to even
start to understand that! And there are some good volumes on Irish
round-sailing.

 

If you think of it, and the Angles, it is said that when they left ANGELN
(on the Baltic See) and sailed towards "England" they left "Angeln"
deserted, which I think is a nice line one reads in Tacitus, Germania. 

 

That area, I'm slightly more familiar with, and treasure Childers's The
Riddle of the Sands, which is all about the Frisian Islands off Leeuwaarden.
I am familiar with the area and treasure that little rhyme that the Dutch
and the Frisians hold dear to their hearts, "White swans, black swans, will
you sail me to England?" (I'm supposed to know that in Dutch).

 

ITALY itself, other than the LIGURIAN bay (Levante, Ponente), I find a bit
boring, but I realise that the Bay of Naples is the best thing God created. 

 

I am reminded now that the Loeb has a Geography by STRABO, which I hope
contains some information on the coast. Since, what is _geography_ but the
description of how the land meets the _sea_?

Cheers,

 

JL

   Santa Maria dellos Buenos Aires
         (after Italian sailors' patron saint). 

 





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