Postscript

A wake is better than a funeral. Rather than finishing with the necessary sadness of the previous entry I discovered this fragment of writing that I wrote – I hazard a guess – perhaps in early spring of this year. It seems an appropriate way to end this journal, re-directing us towards the beauty of boat life and why we all do it to begin with.

“I feel that I should record that, for no particular reason now more than ever – I really love Hawisia.

There have been times when I have doubted the boating life – found it too difficult, too draining. But now the gentle rocking of my boat is one of the few true pleasures that I have to look forward to when I return home from work. The smell of old cinders and smoky wood fills my brain like a cloud of ambergris, the worn armchair, in its place, offers an envelope of calm peacefulness that counteracts the trials of the day. The scatter-gun effect of rain hitting my roof like a thousand tiny plastic pellets, is a kind of familiar melody, which brings, oddly enough, comfort. The miniature tornados of wind which throttle down the chimney and rock the boat, one way, then the other, are almost old friends. Sometimes the wind lures and draws the flame of the fire into a fine, silken tongue through the shaft of the chimney, but at other times a downwards draught can stamp out a fire like a blot of black ink. Then puff! And a globe of smoke appears from underneath the stove riddle, which gradually fills the boat like church incense. The sound of wind whooshing and flooing down the chimney, the whistle of the kettle, the ephemeral but soft feather-like brush of Behemoth’s tail against my leg: these are the pleasures of boating not to be forgotten. Then the sleep upon water, oceanic yet still, is far better than any sleep upon land. It is a kind of elaborate return to the womb, this life upon water, but not in a fleshy but hard shell – returning us to the universal memory of the mother.

So if I ever have cause to doubt my choice – for hard labour, and damp and cold and sometimes fear – I will always read this entry and take heart, that if anyone can love a boat, I love her – Hawisia – my wide-keeled battle maiden.”

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