November 22, 2011

Giving thanks for boats

WELL, HERE IT IS, coming up to the end of November, and what is there to be thankful for? The usual, I guess. Wives. Husbands. Turkeys. Beer. Football. Television. And boats. Ah yes, boats.
When I was rummaging around in a 100-year-old copy of The Rudder magazine recently I came across a delightful little paean to the sailing ship. It was written by the editor, Thomas Fleming Day, and it was naturally a little one-sided and biased — faults totally eclipsed by the man's passion and his command of the language. I think it ought to be inscribed on a bronze plaque and put on display in a prominent pace to remind everybody, not just the sailors among us but everybody, of what we have lost, and what still remains that we can be thankful for. But judge for yourself:
"Unquestionably the sailing vessel is the most majestic and perfect creation of man. It above all his works embodies those perfections of detail which, taken as a whole, form a beautiful and inspiring object. He has never wrought in any other line a fabric which in its actions so mimics the graceful and delighting movements of a symmetrical and buoyant living thing. It seems to embody the very spirit of enterprise that created it. It confers beauty upon the element that it traverses and takes from every change of the seam sky and air a fresh grace and a more enchanting appearance. And when we realize what it has done for mankind: how in the shadow of its sails empire have sprung up and grown to greatness, how cities have flourished, races been nourished and houses in plenty and splendor; how it broadened the world only to bring its widely parted lands closer together, binding all in the golden bands of trade. When we recall who have trod the decks of these ships, who built, navigated and fought them, the master men of the ages, the welders and shapers of our present civilization. Thinking of these things we cannot but regret the passing of the sailing ship."
To which I can only add, 100 years later, that ships under sail still have not completely passed away, especially small ones, and for that we should be truly grateful.

 Today's Thought
All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
— Samuel Butler
A Seattle sailor has invented a combined corkscrew, can opener, and bottle opener. It saves losing them overboard separately.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Oded Kishony said...

There is a strange synergy between sailboats and violins.
Two of Einstein's favorite hobbies were sailing and fiddling. A great many violin makers are also boat addicts.
The violin, also considered a "perfect invention" in that it has not been improved upon for the past 300 years-still going strong.

Oded Kishony