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Old 14th Nov 2011, 09:26
  #23 (permalink)  
Little cloud
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: UK
Age: 60
Posts: 48
My second all-time favourite book after E K Gann's, Fate Is The Hunter would have to be his book Song Of The Sirens. It is more or less to boats what the former is to aviation. A great read, which I've gone back to many times over the past 40 odd years.
Tpad, try also Joseph Conrad's "Mirror of the Sea", his only non-fiction autobiographical work. Some uncanny parallels with Gann's book. It's downloadable from the Project Gutenberg website.

As, rounding a dark, wooded point, bathed in fresh air and
sunshine, we opened to view a crowd of shipping at anchor lying
half a mile ahead of us perhaps, he called me aft from my station
on the forecastle head, and, turning over and over his binoculars
in his brown hands, said: "Do you see that big, heavy ship with
white lower masts? I am going to take up a berth between her and
the shore. Now do you see to it that the men jump smartly at the
first order."

I answered, "Ay, ay, sir," and verily believed that this would be a
fine performance. We dashed on through the fleet in magnificent
style. There must have been many open mouths and following eyes on
board those ships--Dutch, English, with a sprinkling of Americans
and a German or two--who had all hoisted their flags at eight
o'clock as if in honour of our arrival. It would have been a fine
performance if it had come off, but it did not. Through a touch of
self-seeking that modest artist of solid merit became untrue to his
temperament. It was not with him art for art's sake: it was art
for his own sake; and a dismal failure was the penalty he paid for
that greatest of sins. It might have been even heavier, but, as it
happened, we did not run our ship ashore, nor did we knock a large
hole in the big ship whose lower masts were painted white. But it
is a wonder that we did not carry away the cables of both our
anchors, for, as may be imagined, I did not stand upon the order to
"Let go!" that came to me in a quavering, quite unknown voice from
his trembling lips. I let them both go with a celerity which to
this day astonishes my memory. No average merchantman's anchors
have ever been let go with such miraculous smartness. And they
both held. I could have kissed their rough, cold iron palms in
gratitude if they had not been buried in slimy mud under ten
fathoms of water. Ultimately they brought us up with the jibboom
of a Dutch brig poking through our spanker--nothing worse. And a
miss is as good as a mile.
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