Messing About In Boats

Ursula Le Guin once had a conversation with Halderman, which is ostensibly about boats but is actually about writing.

ALISON HALDERMAN: You do invent wonderful landscapes. The Earthsea trilogy creates such a vivid picture of the sea — have you done a lot of sailing?

URSULA LE GUIN: All that sailing is complete fakery. It’s amazing what you can fake. I’ve never sailed anything in my life except a nine-foot catboat, and that was in the Berkeley basin in about three feet of water. And we managed to sink it. The sail got wet and it went down while we sang “Nearer My God to Thee.” We had to wade to shore, and go back to the place we’d rented it and tell them. They couldn’t believe it. “You did what?” You know, it’s interesting, they always tell people to write about what they know about. But you don’t have to know about things, you just have to be able to imagine them really well.

The Last Interview

So there you go. You don’t have to ‘write what you know’. Write what you can imagine, and also what you are able to sufficiently and properly research.

Now for some illustrations of boats. I’ve roughly ordered them from cosy to dark. The boat scene can definitely be both!

For a wider discussion on the symbolism of ships, see here.

written by Eudoxie Dupuis and illustrations (here, cover, Newton, Cheops and the monsters before the appearance of man) are signed R. André
written by Eudoxie Dupuis and illustrations (here, cover, Newton, Cheops and the monsters before the appearance of man) are signed R. André
Billy Fishbone And Other Sea Stories by Martin Waddell, Illustrated By Reg Cartwright, Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1994 cover
Billy Fishbone And Other Sea Stories by Martin Waddell, Illustrated By Reg Cartwright, Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1994 cover
Row Row Row Your Boat told and illustrated by Iza Trapani
Row Row Row Your Boat told and illustrated by Iza Trapani
1933 Feb AMERICAN BOY Magazine Albin Henning Cover
1933 Feb AMERICAN BOY Magazine Albin Henning Cover (detail)
Stead's Review Rare Vintage Magazine October 1st, 1921 detail from cover
Stead’s Review Rare Vintage Magazine October 1st, 1921 detail from cover
December 1936 Yachting magazine cover art
December 1936 Yachting magazine cover art
Vintage 1938 Rockefeller Center Magazine September 'Full Sail' Back Issue
Vintage 1938 Rockefeller Center Magazine September ‘Full Sail’ Back Issue
Lotus Lilies (1888) by Charles Courtney Curran (American, 1861–1942)
Lotus Lilies (1888) by Charles Courtney Curran (American, 1861–1942)
'The Bears and the Moon'- illustration by Yuri Vasnetsov
‘The Bears and the Moon’- illustration by Yuri Vasnetsov
Wrapper drawing by John Plant, 1957 Three Men In A Boat
Wrapper drawing by John Plant, 1957 Three Men In A Boat
Go Dog Go P.D. Eastman, 1961
Go Dog Go P.D. Eastman, 1961
William Andrew Pogany (August 24, 1882 – July 30, 1955) was a prolific Hungarian illustrator of children's and other books
William Andrew Pogany (August 24, 1882 – July 30, 1955) was a prolific Hungarian illustrator of children’s and other books
Kawase Hasui, Morning at Dotonbori in Osaka, 1933
Kawase Hasui, Morning at Dotonbori in Osaka, 1933
DER SCHATZ AUF DER VOGELINSEL (1956) Karel Zeman (Treasure On Bird Island)
DER SCHATZ AUF DER VOGELINSEL (1956) Karel Zeman (Treasure On Bird Island)
DER SCHATZ AUF DER VOGELINSEL (1956) Karel Zeman (Treasure On Bird Island)
Fanciful frog limerick with illustration by Edmund Dulac
Fanciful frog limerick with illustration by Edmund Dulac
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964) boat
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964)
Douglas Macpherson (1871 - 1951) April 1912 illustration showing the lowering the lifeboats on the SS Titanic after the liner collided with an iceberg. Original publication from a page of The Graphic
Douglas Macpherson (1871 – 1951) April 1912 illustration showing the lowering the lifeboats on the SS Titanic after the liner collided with an iceberg. Original publication from a page of The Graphic
Edgar P. Jacobs (1904) 1948 illustration for ′Le Journal de Tintin'
Edgar P. Jacobs (1904) 1948 illustration for ′Le Journal de Tintin’
Science fiction boat from the 1970s
Science fiction boat from the 1970s
Dulac, Venice (The London Illustrated News, 1912)
Dulac, Venice (The London Illustrated News, 1912)
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964) castle and boat
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964)
Mermaids’ Rock Edward Matthew Hale ca. 1894
Mermaids’ Rock Edward Matthew Hale ca. 1894
November 1936 Yachting magazine
November 1936 Yachting magazine cover art
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964)
Hannes Bok, pseudonym for Wayne Francis Woodard (1914 – 1964)
'Mevagissey, Cornwall', Stanley Royle, oil on canvas, 1960 boats
‘Mevagissey, Cornwall’, Stanley Royle, oil on canvas, 1960
Albert Chevallier Tayler - The Thames at Benson 1912
Albert Chevallier Tayler – The Thames at Benson 1912
James Aumonier - Where the Water Lilies Grow
James Aumonier – Where the Water Lilies Grow
William Marshall Brown - At the Water's Edge
William Marshall Brown – At the Water’s Edge
Robert McCloskey yacht
Robert McCloskey yacht
Winslow Homer - The Catboat
Winslow Homer – The Catboat
Poster illustrator not found 1930s
Poster illustrator not found 1930s
George Sheridan Knowles - Summer Pleasures on the River 1908 boat
George Sheridan Knowles – Summer Pleasures on the River 1908
Myles Birket Foster - The Ferry boat
Myles Birket Foster – The Ferry boat
From 'The Object Lesson' by Edward Gorey, 1958, Heavens, how dashing
From ‘The Object Lesson’ by Edward Gorey, 1958, Heavens, how dashing
HARRY ROUNTREE The butcher the baker the candlestick maker, 1910
HARRY ROUNTREE The butcher the baker the candlestick maker, 1910
Illustration from 'Time was Away' 1948 by John Minton
Illustration from ‘Time was Away’ 1948 by John Minton
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
N. Zeitlin - Tales of the Brothers Grimm Seven Brave Men boat
N. Zeitlin – Tales of the Brothers Grimm Seven Brave Men boat
Holling C. Holling. Paddle-to-the-Sea
Holling C. Holling. Paddle-to-the-Sea
Norman Mills Price (1877 - 1951) plane boat
Norman Mills Price (1877 – 1951)
Blackpool Illuminations souvenir, published by Saidman Brothers 1953 boat
Blackpool Illuminations souvenir, published by Saidman Brothers 1953 boat
Bernadette Watts - The Snow Queen
Bernadette Watts – The Snow Queen
John Patience - The Snow Queen
John Patience – The Snow Queen
Leonid Zolotarev - The Snow Queen boat
Leonid Zolotarev – The Snow Queen

A fresh wave of loneliness swept over him. He had lost Flag and he had lost his father, too. The gaunt little man he had last seen crouched in pain in the kitchen doorway, calling for help to stand, was a stranger. He pushed out his dug-out and took up his paddle and headed for the open waters. He was out in the world, and it seemed to him that he was alien here, and alone, and that he was being carried away into a void. He paddled for the location where he had seen the steamer pass. Living was no longer the grief behind him, but the anxiety ahead. Leaving the mouth of the creek behind him, he found the wind freshening. Out from the shelter of the land a brisk breeze was blowing. He ignored the gnawing in his belly and paddled desperately. The wind caught the dug-out and slewed it around. He could not keep it headed. The waves were mounting. Their soft lapping changed to a hissing. They began to break over the bow of the canoe. When it swung sideways, they washed in and it tipped and rolled. There was an inch of water across the bottom. There was no vessel of any sort in sight.

He looked back. The shore had receded alarmingly. Ahead of him, the open water seemed to stretch without an end. He turned about in a panic and paddled madly for the shore. It would be best, after all, to go back up the creek and get help from Mis’ Nellie Ginright. It might be better even to walk to Fort Gates and make his way from there. The wind behind him helped him, and it seemed to him that he could feel the north-bound current of the great river. He headed for an opening that must be the end of the Salt Springs run. When he reached it, it was a blind opening in the shore that led only into swamp. The mouth of the run was nowhere to be found.

The Yearling, 1938
N.C. Wyeth from The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Published by Scribner's 1940 Jody Lost, You don't contract Wyeth for a job without asking him to do clouds.
N.C. Wyeth from The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Published by Scribner’s 1940 Jody Lost, You don’t contract Wyeth for a job without asking him to do clouds.
Vikings Heading for Land, 1873, by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853- 1928)
Vikings Heading for Land, 1873, by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853- 1928)
A Basket in the Reeds, illustrated by H. Hechtkopf, 1966
A Basket in the Reeds, illustrated by H. Hechtkopf, 1966
Magazine cover art, System D, Peach To Flambeau, 1925
Sophie Anderson - Elaine (The Lily Maid of Astolat) 1870
Sophie Anderson – Elaine (The Lily Maid of Astolat) 1870
Edmund Blair Leighton - In Time of Peril
Edmund Blair Leighton – In Time of Peril
George Sheridan Knowles - Seeking Sanctuary
(c) Gallery Oldham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
BLUE BOOK (Bedsheet Size Pulp Magazine). May 1943
BLUE BOOK (Bedsheet Size Pulp Magazine). May 1943
Venice, Full Moon over Santa Maria Salute by Karl Heilmayer (German, 1829–1908)
Venice, Full Moon over Santa Maria Salute by Karl Heilmayer (German, 1829–1908)
Fishermen at Sea (1796) by J. M. W. Turner (England, 1775–1851)
Fishermen at Sea (1796) by J. M. W. Turner (England, 1775–1851)

Header illustration: William Henry Knight – On the Thames 1859

Lemon girl young adult novella

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