During my last eight weeks of shoulder rehab I have had ample time to catch up on reading material, so firstly special thanks to the Good Samaritan who left a batch of new magazines including fishing, boating, camping and science topics at my front door early on in this period. Would love to thank you personally, but still don’t know who you are? One of my visitors back then was Brendan Symes, who has a keen interest in sailing, having sailed overseas for many years in his younger days and later owning a 36’ vessel, ‘Psyche’, which I located for sale in Broome last year. Anyway, Brendan arrived with a very old looking book under his arm that he thought I may be interested in, so I am now part way through, ‘Sailing All Seas In The Idle Hour’, by Dwight Long.
This is a classic, first published in 1938 and gives an insight into the prevailing thoughts of adventurers back then. On the inside cover of the book, in pencil of course, the preferred writing material of that period, are the personal details of the original owner of the book, quite fascinating on it’s own. “Lieutenant Commander A.C.D.Leach, HMS ‘ Kenya’, c/o GPO London, England and c/o FMO Trincomalee, Ceylon” ( now Sri Lanka ). Imagining having your mail collected from GPO London nowadays.
I will not describe the sailor’s journey around the globe here, but have rather chosen to quote direct from the preface by Alan Villiers, a renowned Australian author, adventurer, photographer and mariner to highlight the mood of the time, which for some, still remains.
“Wandering through the South Seas in these days, one is astonished at the number of small yachts sailing there. …. In frail craft I would have trembled in, they make long and often hazardous voyages with surprising ease….. now and again, of course, one of the vessels may find permanent moorings on some pacific reef. Then the crew go home, and build themselves another boat. There are reefs enough to go around… In all this intrepid band the name of Dwight Long stands out. With most things against him …. he took his little ‘Idle Hour’ from Seattle …… and all those lovely far-off places, and weathered hurricanes and avoided reefs, and paid his bills and pacified his crews, and made friends and sailed his way leisurely and pleasantly along. What a life! Yet it takes courage of a high order and determination rare in these days, and a sea-skill born of long experience; and the ability to suffer much, and find contentment and companionship in one’s own mind… He is the true sea-wanderer, in these hurried days, when the professional seaman sees little but ports…. and the wandering globetrotter has his soft way sped until the whole earth is fast developing-for him-into nothing but a nerve-racking kaleidoscope of which, his voyage made, he remembers little.” Perhaps some meaning to be found in amongst there for all of us?