Thursday, September 27, 2012

Literature: You Can't Fool an Old Salt

The Brethren know probably better than most that there is no way to economize when writing about the sea. If I didn't know it before, I learned it working on this blog. One slip and a good old salt is ready to pounce. And rightly so; there should be no quarter given when writing is sloppy and facts go unchecked.

That is why I found this entry in Peter H. Spectre's A Mariner's Miscellany so amusing. Having recently read some pages from an all too earnest piece of "nautical fiction" (I use quotations because the novel is actually a romance and, in all honesty, a thinly veiled piece of fan fiction to boot), I recognized the comments of Lincoln Colcord as all too true. I can tell you too, I surely empathized with his father's spot on sarcasm:

The sailor is well aware that the stalls are filled with sea books written by landlubbers. Rarely, indeed does he find a work which bears the authentic stamp of seamanship.

How vividly I recall my father's scorn at an incident in one of the novels of a famous writer of nautical fiction. He was reading the book aloud one evening, on board the bark Harvard, going up the China Sea.

The tale had arrived at the point of love-making; the scene was set on the quarterdeck of a sixteen hundred ton sailing packet. The heroine reclined on a deck-chair against the lee rail; a gentle air from the spanker wafted down upon her, for they were sailing sunny seas. The hero whispered his message; and while she listened, turning her face away, she trailed her hand idly in the water.

"Ha!" Snorted my father when he reached this passage. "That fellow had better look out for himself - she has long arms."

~ from An Instrument of the Gods by Lincoln Colcord published in 1922

Header: The Lady and the Captain by John Ward Dunsmore c 1900 via Wikipedia


Blue Lou Logan said...

LOL. And maybe she's as tall as mizzenmast?

Undine said...

Oh, great. Now for the rest of the day I'm going to be picturing a winsome romantic heroine with limbs like Gumby.

Pauline said...

Lou: Or she's a mermaid, eh?

Undine: That's exactly what I thought of too, right down to that bilious green color.

Blue Lou Logan said...

Or, if she's a green lass, ye best warn Capt. Kirk. ;-)

Timmy! said...

Or maybe she is just really limber and it they wer doing it in one of those funky kama sutra positions...

Pauline said...

Even then, it would be a very long way to the water from the rail of the quarterdeck. This is more like something out of a Syfy movie, really.