Subtitled “A Treasury of Good Reading on Coastal and Inland Cruising,” this collection of excerpts from well-known to as-yet- unpublished authors is enjoyable cover to cover. Although they are excerpts from larger works, they have been chosen so well that they stand alone. Nevertheless, you may find yourself making notes of titles and authors that pique your interest for more.
As fellow “boat nuts,” we may enjoy in this collection everything from the whimsical adventures of Mole and Rat to historical naval battles. We are taken through the experiences and imaginations of a wide variety of people who have loved “messing about in small boats.” We can share the appreciation of fine craftsmanship in descriptions of small-boat building, the hardships of explorers, and the childhood discovery of the pleasures of boating.
One of the editor’s goals was to choose from the works of good writers, many of whom may be quite familiar to the average reader. However, he shows himself to be a good writer, also, in his informative and apropos introductions to each story. In his own readable style, he sheds light on the authors and the circumstances surrounding the stories, so that even familiar tales may be read with fresh enjoyment.
Small Boats on Green Waters would make a treasured addition to anyone’s library, especially on board where a short story at the end of a long day is just the thing to relax the mind. There is a danger, however, for you may even begin to long for the simpler life of sailing a small boat in shallow waters as you read of the pleasures to be found in less ambitious and less costly journeys. On the other hand, if you, like the editor in his boyhood, are “boatless, reading everything you can on the subject, and waiting for the day when you can lay your hands on something that will float,” perhaps you will be inspired to start out in a small boat and on the greenest water you can find near home.
Small Boats on Green Waters edited by Brian Anderson (Breakaway Books, 2007; 340 pages)