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The Boat Who Wouldn't Float by Farley…

The Boat Who Wouldn't Float (original 1969; edition 1984)

by Farley Mowat

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6901133,137 (4.06)55
It seemed like a good idea. Tired of everyday life ashore, Farley Mowat would find a sturdy boat in Newfoundland and roam the salt sea over, free as a bird. What he found was the worst boat in the world, and she nearly drove him mad. The Happy Adventure, despite all that Farley and his Newfoundland helpers could do, leaked like a sieve. Her engine only worked when she felt like it. Typically, on her maiden voyage, with the engine stuck in reverse, she backed out of the harbour under full sail. And she sank, regularly. How Farley and a varied crew, including the intrepid lady who married him, coaxed the boat from Newfoundland to Lake Ontario is a marvellous story. The encounters with sharks, rum-runners, rum and a host of unforgettable characters on land and sea make this a very funny book for readers of all ages.… (more)
Title:The Boat Who Wouldn't Float
Authors:Farley Mowat
Info:Starfire (1984), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Boat Who Wouldn't Float by Farley Mowat (1969)

  1. 10
    Offwatch with Old Harry: The Funny Side of Sailing by Des Sleightholme (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Those of us who grew up and/or sailed along the South Coast KNOW Old Harry!

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» See also 55 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
one of my favorite books... ( )
  sohlej | Feb 23, 2022 |
Excellent experiential maritime muddled with deftly drawn comedy. Observant, wry. poignant, like everything of Mowat’s read, does-not-disappoint. So thankful he chose to write and has kept it up for the duration. Merci, Mr. Mowat, for sharing your life with the world. Imagine how many you’ve touched and all of the enjoyment and interest you’ve added. Count us among the thankful. ( )
  AyRGH | Nov 16, 2020 |
This book was hilarious, exciting, touching, thoughtful, heartfelt, and then it was funny again. I've recommended it several times since reading it. ( )
  ZanaDont | Nov 5, 2020 |
A most enjoyable story. It aims for light humor (and not much more), and usually succeeds. The humor is never cruel, but always tolerant and humane. The people, the boat, the dog, are all wonderful characters (yes, even the boat). There is some real adventure, but Mowat's endurable cheer is relentless.

> She immediately proceeded to give evidence of what was to be her most salient characteristic. She leaked as no boat I have ever known, before or since, could leak.

> A hundred arms began to wave as hoarse voices were raised in a great shout. Jack, at the wheel of the red beast, was delighted. He thought the people were welcoming him to Muddy Hole. He also thought he was still on the ill-defined track which led down the boulder scree to the shore of the cove. He was wrong on both counts. There was no road, and the inhabitants were trying vehemently to warn him of this fact. "My son!" one of the observers of the scene told me afterwards. "It were a wunnerful sight to see!" And here I had better explain that in Newfoundland the word "wonderful" still means what it used to mean in older times: full of wonder, full of awe. The car negotiated the first few yards without incident, then the slope abruptly steepened and although Jack, suspecting by now that all was not well, tramped on the brakes, it was too late. Down came the red behemoth, careless of the boulders in its path and heedless of a number of split-stick fences, leaping and bounding with the abandon of a hippopotamus driven mad by hashish

> There was no clutch and no gear box. When, and if, the engine started, the boat immediately began to move. She did not necessarily move forward. It is an idiosyncrasy of the make-and-breaks that when they start they may choose to turn over either to left or to right (which is to say either forward or astern), and there is no way known to man of predicting which direction it is going to be.

> It was Jack who saved us all. He did not even pause to curse, but leapt into the engine room with such alacrity that he caught the bullgine sleeping. Before it knew he was there he had spun the flywheel and, even without a prime, the green beast was so surprised she fired. She had been taken totally off guard, but even as she belched into life she struck back at us, thinking to make us pay for our trickery by starting in reverse. There were a great many people watching from the fish-plant wharf. Since they could not hear the roar of the bullgine above the thunder of the plant machinery they were incredulous of what they saw. Under full sail and snoring bravely along, Happy Adventure slowly came to a stop. Then with all sails still set and drawing—she began to back up. The fish-plant manager, a worldly man who had several times seen motion picture films, said it was like watching a movie that had been reversed. He said he expected to see the schooner back right up Obie's stage, lower her sails, and go to sleep again.

> The engine roared and the heat became so intense that we were sweating almost as much water back into the bilges as we were pumping out. We pumped.

> Trepassey is, as they say in other parts of Newfoundland, "t'place where t'fog is made." I believe it. Happy Adventure lay in Trepassey for almost a week, and during that time we never knew if the sun still shone somewhere, or if it had been extinguished by some cosmic cataclysm.

> "They're a nasty bunch over there. They won't hardly part with a drop of gasoline on tick. Won't give a feller no credit at all. I told 'em last time I filled up there I’d pay 'em when I got the money, and one of these years I may."

> The bullgine had learned how to heat herself up until she got so hot that when we tried to stop her we could not do it. Disconnecting the battery did no good because the igniter, having become incandescent, would continue to fire the gasoline charges anyway. The only way we could stop her was to turn off the gasoline tap at the main tank, and it then took up to five minutes for her to consume the gasoline remaining in her huge carburetor before she would finally give up the ghost. She revealed this distressing new trait the day before the Jeannie Barnes arrived, when we made a voyage across the harbour to the wharf of a small merchant who sold fuel, food, and sundries to fishermen. His dock was crowded with small boats and so, for safety's sake, I ordered Jack to stop the engine while we were still some distance, off. The engine refused to stop and we ploughed ahead at full speed. I managed to heel her over in a sharp turn, doing no more damage to the moored boats than to skin the paint off a trap skiff. Shaken to the quick, I headed the vessel back toward the cen tre of the harbour—whereupon the engine stopped. Naturally it would not start again.

> While stationed in Holland after the end of the Second World War Mike Donovan stole a German v-2 rocket. After painting it blue, building a wooden conning tower on it, and brazenly calling it a one-man submarine, he shipped it back to Canada as a glorious souvenir.

> We had given up our original intention of sailing to the tropics because it was clear from a scrutiny of our log that, even if we maintained our current rate of progress, it would take us sixteen months to reach the Caribbean; twenty-nine months to reach the Azores; and seven and a half years to reach the South Pacific.

> Happy Adventure puttered blindly on into the dark and brooding murk and I was soon fog-chilled, unutterably lonely, and scared to death. Since rum is a known and accepted antidote for all three conditions I took a long, curative drink for each separate ailment

> "Where you bound, Skipper?" someone called across to us. "St. Pierre," I cried back. "Heading to clear Cape St. Mary’s with a five-mile offing." There was a long thoughtful silence from our neighbour. And then: "Well, byes, I don't see how you’re going to do it steering the course you is. Unless, that is, you plans to take her up the Branch River, carry her over the Platform Hills, and put her on a railroad train. If I was you, I'd haul off to port about nine points. Good luck to ye!"

> The thought occurred to me that if we had to find ourselves in a situation of some jeopardy, we were better off aboard Happy Adventure than aboard a well-found, comfortable, and properly equipped yacht. "You have to be kidding!" Jack said when I propounded this idea. "Not at all. Look at it this way. If we were in a hundred-thousand-dollar yacht we’d have to worry like hell about the prospect of losing her. We don't have that worry aboard Happy Adventure."

> They were very good about some other small matters to which I had forgotten to attend before we left Muddy Hole. For one thing, I had not obtained official clearance for my vessel to sail to foreign ports. Also, I had not bothered to have her registered and so I had no papers. No papers. No flag. No port of registration, and not even a name painted on her stern or bow. It was a wonder that Mike and I were not immediately jailed and our ship interned.

> "If one o' they cutters comes onto we, we heaves bags and boxes over side. The salt, bein' heavy, takes the boxes straight down below, and there they stays 'till the salt melts into the water. How long that'll take depends on how much salt you uses and what kind o' bag. A brin bag'll soak out fifty pounds o' salt in fifteen hours; but fifty pounds in a flour sack'll take nigh onto twenty-four hours."

> The cargo that was lovingly unloaded from the skiffs was the real stuff; whereas the cargo we had carried from St. Pierre consisted of fourteen wooden cases—filled with rocks—ballasted with fourteen salt bags—filled with sand. Our role, as determined for us by the Hondas brothers, had been that of a stalking horse charged with deflecting and preoccupying the hounds of the law

> They had her hauled on the slip, nominally for repairs, but when they discovered she only needed cleaning out and the replacement of one plank in her counter, they arranged to increase the repair costs by the simple expedient of tearing off six feet of her stern with crowbars.

> What, two months earlier, had appeared to be the prospect of a pleasant voyage to Expo now loomed as an ordeal from which it seemed unlikely that any of us would emerge unscathed. My one remaining hope was that the weather, which had been atrocious since late May, would stay that way until October, giving me at least a semi-legitimate excuse for remaining snugly moored in Messers Cove until the whole idiotic scheme had been forgotten. The weather on the Sou'west Coast being what it was, I felt reasonably safe in publicly announcing that we would sail on the first fair-weather day. Wednesday, August second, dawned fair. … The inexplicable facts are these: when I woke at nine o'clock it was to find a clear, cloudless day, not a breath of wind, perfect visibility, and a sea as calm as an average lily pond. And Happy Adventure was not leaking. At first I did not believe any of it, but when conditions had not changed by noon I had to accept the unpalatable conclusion that there was nothing, short of my sabotaging the boat or engine, that was going to enable me to abandon the voyage.

> "She sucked the mud right into her," Ralph explained. "Filled her pores right up with mud. Now she can't leak no matter how she tries…not until the mud washes out of her, that is. And when it does, well, you better find yourself another mud bank, quick."

> "Put back? God almighty, that's all you ever do! If you had the guts of a canary you'd hold your course. Afraid to die, are you? Bloody coward!" I was very much afraid to die, but I was also afraid of having to live with Jack in future years unless I took his dare.

> Once beyond Cap Gaspé, and properly into the estuary of the mighty St. Lawrence River, our progress slowed from a healthy snail's pace, to that of a badly crippled one.

> "Christ Almighty," he burst out. "We could swim to Montreal faster than this!" He was overstating the case a little, but was not far enough off the mark that I cared to argue with him. I kept my peace because, although he was not yet aware of it, we were changing our position in regard to Fame Point. We were getting farther and farther away from it!

> It was perhaps underhanded of me, but I arranged with the man who told me the story to come aboard Happy Adventure one night, and tell it again. When he was through I asked him what would happen to the forlorn little vessel. "The government, they take her for wharfage fees," he said, and, brutally, "they sell her cheap to some fellow in the town. This winter he will haul her out and cut her up for firewood. Good riddance, too." That night Happy Adventure did not leak a drop. When we departed for Quebec on September first, she behaved so well that we ran on by day and by night.

> Somehow Glen had switched his attention from the light on Goose Cape to the bright masthead light of a big ship heading east down the southern channel. Happy Adventure was making about seven knots over the bottom, on a falling tide, and heading resolutely for salt water and for home.

> "Well, dear, it's all over now. Want some coffee? I'll put the kettle on." I swung my legs out of my bunk…and stepped into twelve inches of cold water. She had done it again. ( )
1 vote breic | Jan 18, 2020 |
If you don't laugh out loud at some point when you read this book, there is something wrong with you. This is a, supposedly, true tale of Farley Mowat's adventure with the boat Happy Adventure. Along the way, a ship-mate is acquired who becomes Clair Mowat, Farley's wife. Enjoy! ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Se videoen her om boken:
«Jeg var slave av en synkende skonnert»

Denne boken er kanskje den morsomste som noen gang er skrevet om kjærlighetsforholdet mellom en mann og hans båt!

Skonnerten Happy Adventure hadde en fatal feil. Hun lakk som en sil. Hvorfor noen ville utsette seg og sine beste venner for denne sta, egenrådige, ukomfortable og ikkeflytende lørja, som ved siste opptelling hadde sunket åtte ganger, er mer enn noen kan fatte. Enhver forklaring synes umulig. Men historien er sann, tro det eller ei.

Dette er en fornøyelig beretning om livet med og i en gammel båt; om råtne seil og helbredende rom; om livet på yttersida og om hunder, havet og kjærligheten.

«En utrolig morsom bok. Hvis ikke den gir deg lyst til å kjøpe en gammel båt, er du ved dine fulle fem»
added by KystbiblioteketOslo | editFlyt Forlag, Anne Nygren
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For her friends who have loved her despite her faults: to Claire, Jack, Théo, Peter, Albert, Andy, Angus, Sandy, David, and all the others . . . But in particular to Mike Donovan who will voyage no more upon the unquiet waters.
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I have an ingrained fear of auctions dating back to the third year of my life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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It seemed like a good idea. Tired of everyday life ashore, Farley Mowat would find a sturdy boat in Newfoundland and roam the salt sea over, free as a bird. What he found was the worst boat in the world, and she nearly drove him mad. The Happy Adventure, despite all that Farley and his Newfoundland helpers could do, leaked like a sieve. Her engine only worked when she felt like it. Typically, on her maiden voyage, with the engine stuck in reverse, she backed out of the harbour under full sail. And she sank, regularly. How Farley and a varied crew, including the intrepid lady who married him, coaxed the boat from Newfoundland to Lake Ontario is a marvellous story. The encounters with sharks, rum-runners, rum and a host of unforgettable characters on land and sea make this a very funny book for readers of all ages.

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