The Marine Quarterly, summer 2014

The Marine Quarterly summer 2014

The summer edition of the excellent The Marine Quarterly came out a couple of weeks ago. If you have almost any interest in the sea, it’s well worth reading for its solid, informative and often entertaining articles on sailing, fisheries, adventuring, merchant shipping, conservation, natural history, culture and heritage, trade, naval matters, nautical books, and anything else that relates to life on salt water. Subscribe here.

In the latest The Marine Quarterly, you’ll find:

  • Richard Hopton describing the Tai-Mo-Shan’s 1933-4 voyage from Hong Kong to Falmouth via Japan,  where the unfortunate crew were suspected of spying because officials did not find women or drink on board
  • Nigel Sharp penetrates the mysteries of oyster dredging in the Carrick Roads on the River Fal, a place where oysters have been harvested since the middle of the nineteenth century, and where in order to preserve the stocks and protect the beds from overfishing, a bye-law prevents oyster fishermen from using engines while dredging
  • Rudyard Kipling describes fishing on the Grand Banks ‘The dories gathered in clusters, separated, reformed, and broke again, all heading one way; while men hailed and whistled and cat-called and sang and the water was speckled with rubbish… ‘
  • MQ editor Sam Llewellyn editor crosses the Pacific on a container ship and is woken by the shock of a big wave a thousand miles from land
  • Philip Marsden debates Marine Conservation Zones with Britain’s biggest trawler owner.
  • Roger Barnes writes a paean to the joys of small-boat cruising
  • Douglas Lindsay brings an antique across the Atlantic – the replica galleon Golden Hinde
  • Rod Heikell outlines the early history of yachting
  • Sophia Kingshill navigates in the general direction of the mythical island Hy Brasil, which somehow remained on the charts until 1853
  • Jonathon Green goes looking for linguistic lowlife and discovers the influence of the 19th century American merchant marine.
  • Oscar Branson goes us deep under some very cold water ‘At around three hundred metres there is no light at all. It is an ice-cold world, and it feels stone dead. Nothing could be further from the truth.’
  • And there is the usual The Marine Quarterly departments – North Sea News, Flotsam and Jetsam, book reviews, items on seamanship, eccentricity, and even the odd poem, all edited by the meticulous Sam Llewellyn and decorated with the drawings of Claudia Myatt
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The latest issue of the wonderful The Marine Quarterly and two books: Mike Smylie’s Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe and an account of cruising in canoes in the 19th Century

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Novelist Sam Llewellyn’s other project, the unfailingly beautifully edited The Marine Quarterly,  continues to impress, and I’m enjoying the new edition as much as I have each of the previous nine editions. I say it’s essential reading, and that a full set – if one could keep them together – would be an asset when waiting for the tide.

This issue includes an illuminating history of pilots and piloting by Tom Cunliffe, Ken Duxbury’s account of visiting his first Greek island aboard his Drascombe Lugger Lugworm,   and an introduction to the story of pier-head painting by artist and illustrator Claudia Myatt.

In fact, if anything it gives me even greater pleasure because it includes a piece from Ben Crawshaw. Ben, as regular readers may remember, built one of my small boat designs, the Light Trow, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his remarkable adventures. (See the ad at the top right of this weblog.)

Mike Smylie Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe

I’m also just beginning to read Mike Smylie’s latest book, Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe, which aims to tell the story of how the various types of fishing boats evolved over hundreds of years in line with the catches they were built to chase, the seas and climates in which they must work, and of course the cultural influences involved.

It’s a complicated story and clearly an important project, and I’ll be fascinated to find out just how he can cram all of that information between two covers! No doubt he can, though, because he’s done this kind of thing before and knows what he’s doing…

Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes

Jim Parnell’s Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes is clearly a must for  anyone interested in the remarkable story of sailing in these little boats.

It’s really a historical record of the adventures of the three New Zealand canoeing Park brothers, George, William  and James, who were active in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and includes material from their logs and from newspaper cuttings, and is written very much in the quite formal, slightly detached style of that era.

Still, the adventures they describe are quite something, and include crossing South Island (including a long portage, naturally) and crossing Cook Strait on a night with no moon. I needn’t mention how dangerous the Southern Ocean can be – but the Parks, particularly George Park, seem to have been indomitable.

The Marine Quarterly summer 2012

The summer issue of novelist Sam Llewellyn’s charming, informative and plain entertaining The Marine Quarterly is due out any day.

It think it’s well worth a sub. We greatly enjoyed the last two issues and excitement is rising at the prospect of a new one.

If you haven’t seen it, you should know that it’s a 112-page compendium of what Sam calls ‘intelligent sea reading’ in a pocket sized format, printed on hefty, creamy paper and illustrated with charts, woodcuts and line drawings.

Here’s a sample paragraph snatched from the last issue and written by a chap called Ernest Gann, who was at the time in the throes of realising his dream of owning and sailing a square rigger. I like the colour in the writing, but its candour is even better:

‘To gain experience in a square rig of any size you must either be a foreign cadet, or serve in the US Coast Guard’s Eagle. So I had to depend heavily on Holcomb, who caressed his dolphin-striker jaw and allowed as how there were enough menaces to navigation in the Bay without turning me loose in a rig which at least looked complicated. To serve as crew I had assembled a heterogeneous group of people who believed that as I had managed to captain the Albatross all the way from Rotterdam without calamity, certainly an afternoon in the Bay should be a lark. I did not bother telling them how little I knew during a sort of rehearsal just before leaving the dock. It was easier demonstrating what I did know. I lectured slowly and with many repetitions, since I was aware that as soon as my supply of book learning was exhausted we would be obliged to sail.’