Messing About in Boats


John R Muir

With a Foreword by Sam Llewellyn

Inex­plic­ably out of print since the late 1940s, Mess­ing About in Boats is one of the most charm­ing and evoc­at­ive accounts of work and leis­ure afloat in the years either side of the Great War. John Muir describes with human­ity and humour the per­ils of boat acquis­i­tion and own­er­ship by the impe­cuni­ous, and the some­what mixed tal­ents of the Paid Hand. But his account is more than bal­anced by the interest and pleas­ure he took in work­ing and sail­ing in Eng­lish waters, from the North Sea to the Bris­tol Chan­nel, in an age long before the mar­ina, GPS and radio.

Muir provides two valu­able first-hand accounts of work afloat under steam and sail before the War, while he was on half-paid leave between assign­ments in the Royal Navy: In the North Sea ‘box­ing’ fleet of trawl­ers which remained on sta­tion for weeks on end, where he served in his med­ic­al capa­city, and later in the Bris­tol Chan­nel Pilot ser­vice, where he crewed on a cut­ter, deliv­er­ing the pilot to incom­ing ships in all weath­ers.

His unfa­vour­able views of the qual­it­ies of the Bris­tol Chan­nel Pilot Cut­ter as a yacht may sur­prise its afi­cion­ados today, but he relen­ted suf­fi­ciently to own two of them, Maud and Freda, which fea­ture in the book.

Cover: ‘Come Aboard’ (detail), water­col­our by Martyn Mack­rill. One of our fore­most mar­ine artists, Martyn Mack­rill is Hon­or­ary Paint­er to the Royal Yacht Squad­ron and Royal Thames Yacht Club.

Read a sample here.

ISBN 978–1-907206–38-2; 216 x 156mm, 208 pages, pho­to­graphs.
Soft­cov­er with sewn bind­ing, cover flaps and matt lam­in­a­tion.

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