The sort of dinghy we’re told a boy should have. Now
that part seems fair enough!
Have you got the proper proportion of salt in your veins?
These days they say too much salt in your veins causes osmotic pressure leading to raised blood pressure, which leads ultimately to end-organ damage. But it wasn’t always like this, and certainly not when they were busy bringing up the breed that led men into the dreadful battles of World War 1.
I’ve been reading The Complete Yachtsman by B Heckstall-Smith and E Du Boulay, first published in 1912. Much of what it has to say is sensible and reasonable. For example, there’s a great section on the draftsmanship involved in yacht designing. All in all, I’m pleased I invested in a copy.
Nevertheless, there are some bits that bear all the hallmarks of 1912. Take this priceless paragraph on teaching a boy to row, for example:
‘If a boy is of the right sort, with the proper proportion of salt in his veins that a British boy ought to have, he will soon get to love his little craft and a steady development in his character and improvement in his health will be visible to all who know and watch him; for there is no sport in the world that brings out all that is best in a man like that of learning to use the sea for his playground; judgement, courage, and especially self-reliance, are learned there as they can be nowhere else. In all other branches of sport, when a lad or a man feels he has had enough of it he can generally retire. Not so at sea; if he should be caught out in a squall he must fight his way back himself, using his brain to set one force of nature against another to his advantage, and not until the fight is over, and the boat is safe in some shelteredwater, can he rest or retire. This is why the sea so often makes men of boys, and heroes of men.’
Can’t you just smell the tanned leather, liniment and pipe-smoke in that voice? Pass the port Heckstall-Smith, and damn and blast the foreigners.
Copies of The Complete Yachtsman may be obtainable via ABE Books – I’ve been told there are lots around in second-hand bookshops, but the one I have is the first I can recall having seen.
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