Monday, August 17, 2009


I love the sea. I've lived near the North Atlantic Ocean for all my life, and can't imagine being anywhere, for a long period of time, without checking to see what temperament the sea is exhibiting today. For it changes all the time. I can see the point from my front window, and it's become a ritual to scan the waters to ascertain its mood and view its colour. The colours are amazing. It's a misnomer to say that the ocean is only blue, it has a wide range of colours and hues. There's dark blue, light blue, baby blue, aqua, green, gray, gray/black, black, at times redish, clear, almost white, and different shades of blue in different areas. The list goes on. Its state also covers a wide range, from calm, choppy, ripply, wavy, entirely still, white caps, angry with waves quite high spewing spray into the air, to dead still. Also foggy, misty, hazy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the sea is always changing, never the same.

But I have the greatest respect for the sea, it's a powerful force that demands caution. Being in the sea, or at times near it, is like playing tag on the shoulders of a potentially ferocious giant. The sea doesn't take kindly to fools. I often wonder what was going on in the minds of some tourists who see huge waves crashing over the rocks on shore, and run to the end of those rocks to...what exactly? Feel the ocean spray? The ocean quickly claims them, of course.

There's a story that seems incredible enough to be true. I have no idea if it is---maybe just a ocean myth. It goes: There were two buddies---quite drunk---walking along a Cape Breton beach on a blustery, angry-sea day. As they walked, talked and laughed, they were getting closer and closer to the waters' edge. A huge wave presented itself and knocked them down. The buddy who was walking on the outside of the surf got back on his feet, pulled the seaweed from his face, righted himself, looked around for his friend, but soon realized he was alone. He called to his buddy, but to no avail. His friend's sudden disappearance had a sobering affect on him right then. He sat down on the sand trying to clear his head---difficult task, indeed, and after some time scanning the ocean for, he hoped, the bobbing head of his mate, he decided to seek out the local police to access the situation. On the long, arduous trek to the police station, he was having serious doubts as to whether his friend was actually with him at all on his walk. He became completely confused about he whole matter, and said so to the police.

The cops naturally thought he was lying(They always think that), and arrived at the conclusion that he had murdered his friend and buried him in the sand. They conducted a thorough search for this now missing man. After many cups of coffee and several intensive interrogations, all they could get from this drunken survivor were many trips to the bathroom and a raving about a HUGE wave that took his buddy. Tears were flowing as easily as urine in the police station that day. A college professor who was a marine biologist was consulted as to the possibility of such a wave dong such a thing. This learned man introduced the word "rogue wave" to the locals. Actually, rogue waves are still debated as to whether they really exist, but for the police who had no idea what to do with this man who can't usually stay on his feet for any period of time let alone kill someone, closed the case marked as a rogue wave victim. Police officers were instructed to scan the shores daily in case the victim washed up. He never did.

My favourite sea quotes:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea, and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
by John Masefield

I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear they skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.
by Coleridge

Haul on the bowline"
We sang that melody
Like all tough sailors do
When they are far away at sea.
Bob Dylan's 115th Dream

So, it's cheer up, me lads
Let your hearts never fail
For the bonny ship the Diamond
Goes a fishin' for the whale.
Sea shanty

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea.
You and I, you and I,
Oh how happy we'll be.
Song( sorry. I don't know who wrote it)

For some reason, I have to have a sea book(fiction or non) to read during the summer. It's become a ritual now. I picked up a non-fiction sea book at a friend's book sale last month. It's called THE FLOATING BROTHEL by Sian Rees. I really enjoyed it. It's not what you think it is...well, it is, actually; but it's not...I mean, you know..."brothel"'re thinking that...well, it's more than times.... I'll explain in a later post.

Next: The greatest sea books---novels and non-fiction.

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