Ode to the wooden boat



If it’s true that boats have souls then there’s a craft out there somewhere that’s bereft. For author Adrian Morgan, whose book The Trouble with Old Boats has just been published, writes like a lost soul looking for the perfect vessel. You get the feeling, reading his oddly-troubled prose, that he’s condemned like the Flying Dutchman to search forever.
The siren has already led him to shed his City flat and move to a Scottish croft close to a boat-building shed where he could learn the skills of the shipwright.
Fortunately for the rest of us he hasn’t cut himself off entirely from his old job as a yachting hack – he used to be feature editor on Yachting Monthly – as he still shares his search with a growing army of fans in a superb column for the much-loved Classic Boat magazine.In case you missed any this book is a collection of the best. Unlike so many journalists who hope, in vain, that a collection of their columns will make them an author, this hangs together like a book proper.
In its pages you will discover that some timber from the J Class yacht Britannia, sacrilegiously scuttled to honour King George V’s last request, exists in a South Coast attic. In the age of ‘Kevlar ironing boards’ you will find men who can trim a dipping lugsail for close windward work. And how many times have you looked at a beautiful wooden dinghy at a Boat Show and said : ‘I could buy a second-hand GRP cruiser for that’. Well here Adrian explains why £8,500 ain’t a lot for a new dayboat.
And that goes someway to explaining Adrian’s lost soul: he can’t dis-invent fibreglass.
The Trouble with Old Boats, Adlard Coles Nautical £7.99.