From Boatsheds to Battlefields 12 Four Happy Years

End of 11th Entry: Our light canvas canoes, speedy easily handled and seaworthy dodged in and out of the channel when a heavy boat risked swamping ere she got full way on her and though often our canoes were capsized, now and again broken we all swum like fish and a most merciful providence invariably landed us no further hurt than bruises.

In the beginning, we were content with double-bladed paddles and fishing close inshore or paddling out into the midst of a fishing fleet on in-lying banks. Then one youth fitted his canoe with a pair of skulls and a rudder.

This enterprising individual now made his chum row whilst he steered and when need arose assisted his crew’s efforts with the original paddle. Other owners enthusiastically followed suit and as we were all keen on canoe building the new models were enlarged and widened more well given and space made for two oarsmen.

At this time the majority of us were in receipt of very tiny allowances seldom exceeding a shilling a week. The cost of material needed for a canoe was an obstacle requiring some ingenuity to surmount. We made however quite good money at fishing and material I blush to say came in ways which would have caused our relatives many a thrill of horror.

We required canvas – tarpaulin did splendidly – paint, ceiling boards for ribs, flooring boards for strips, good solid deal (pinewood) for keel shapes and bow and stern posts and in many a mysterious way they arrived. We never manifested any curiosity as to where our friends procured their necessities and most certainly we evaded all reference if any was made as to how we got ours.

But now we longed for swifter flight over the bosom of the Atlantic and sailing experiments came to the fore whereby our people were left puzzling over lost bedsheets and tablecloths though soon the money made fishing enabled us to have real sails, masts, booms and sprits made by sailmakers in town and we took our places as equals nay superiors in sea craft amongst fisherfolk.

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So passed four happy years of life spent in continual struggle with wind and wave and though always the mountain loomed in the background and often thought lingered on her cliffs and hovered over her hidden joys of heights ascended, glens explored no opportunity came to wrest them from the unknown until I reached nearly sixteen.

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