“When we were young we dreamt of adventure. Then as we got older we were taught that dreams of adventure are for the young, and we got scared by poverty, joblessness and the responsibility of relationships and children.” pg. 254 Boff Whalley, Run Wild

Apologies in advance to Boff Whalley, but in the following quote I’ve played around with the original text – replacing running with boating – as I feel Whalley’s words on running are an articulate expression of my own feelings about boats and boating…

“Most good adventure stories, with their narrative arc of highs and lows, setbacks and survival, seem to end with the ghost of Edith Piaf singing as the red velvet curtains close in one grand, final swish. Non, je ne regrette rien. But it isn’t true in my case. I have one regret: I didn’t find running boating until I was almost thirty years old. […] Since then running boating has sewn itself like a thread through my life, a badly stitched, wonky, wiggly thread that is in places unpicked and worn and in places deceptively neat. Running Boating has been a constant, albeit an unpredictable and continually surprising [and often alarmingly expensive!] one.”  pg. 255

In a time of relentless, restless stress; of constant demands; of increasing challenge and an overwhelming sense of frantically paddling just to keep still, I’m drowning not waving, and I’m using the boat as my life raft.


The boat is my thread, a strong line running wonkily through life, and holding the patchwork quilt of things, stuff, life together.

From family boating to photos pinned to my office wall; from story-telling to poetry; from digital sunshine to the home mooring; from good friends to country pubs, the list of boat-related golden moments to savour in the gloomy time goes on and on.

we have all the time in the world…

summer morning
on the cut
a boat
moving slowly
bass-beat exhaust
of an engine singing
I’m swallowed by sound
adrift on the water path
on a boat miles out at sea
a quixotic isolation
one inch from the land

from Mid-land by Nick Holt


A version of this post first appeared in November 2012


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